Discussion Paper No. 160 of 2013 on Identity and Social Cohesion in Kenya: Linkage and Correlates
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Strategies aimed at enhancing social cohesion and reinforcing a “national identity” need to identify factors that are strongly associated with social cohesion as well as national attachment, and which are amenable to policy. This study uses household level data to examine and discuss the nexus between national and ethnic identities and social cohesion. It sheds light on the widely held assumption that widespread preference for a national identity over an ethnic identity promotes social cohesion. Focusing on the role of education, age, location, gender and ethnic diversity, it examines the determinants of social identity. The most robust factor seems to be education, which is positively correlated with a preference for a national identity. Three components of social cohesion are examined, namely trust, identity and inequality, and how their scores differ across social identity groups. Results indicate that the level of trust as well as pride by ‘individuals who prefer a national identity’ and those ‘who prefer an ethnic identity’ is not statistically different. These two groups, however, seem to differ on their perceptions of inequality. Specifically, the results suggest that perceptions of higher inequality may shift preferences from the ‘national identity’ towards an ‘ethnic identity.’ The study concludes that addressing inequality and perceptions of inequality may form a robust approach to promoting widespread preference for a national identity. Socio-economic factors influencing social cohesion and its components are also discussed. Education remains a robust factor. Ethnic diversity appears not to be bad for cohesion as is commonly found in the literature, while regions with higher poverty rates have lower social cohesion index scores.
Identity; Social Cohesion; National Identity; Inequality; Kenya
PublisherThe Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA)
SeriesDiscussion Paper No.160 of 2013;
- Discussion Papers