State-Building in a Diverse Society
Diversity poses fundamental challenges to state-building and development. We study the effects of one of post-colonial Africa's largest policy experiments — the Tanzanian Ujamaa policy — which attempted to address these challenges. Ujamaa aimed to create a national identity and consolidate state authority by mandating a highly diverse population to live in planned villages, where children received political education. We combine differences in exposure to Ujamaa across space and age to identify long-term impacts of the policy. We show persistent, positive effects on national identity based on surveys and inter-ethnic marriages. We observe no systematic differences for cohorts that were above or below treatment-age during Ujamaa. Our preferred interpretation, supported by evidence that considers alternative hypotheses, is that changes to educational content drive our findings. Moreover, while Ujamaa contributed to establishing the Tanzanian state as a legitimate central authority, it appears to have lowered demands for democratic accountability.
We thank Sam Asher, Ralph Austen, Tim Besley, Georgy Egorov, Leander Heldring, Seema Jayachandran, Horacio Larreguy, Ted Miguel, Joel Mokyr, Nathan Nunn, Elias Papaioannou, Dan Posner, Nancy Qian, Luis Rayo, Bryony Reich, Cory Smith, Jörg Spenkuch, Christopher Udry, Léonard Wantchekon, Noam Yuchtman, and participants at the 2021 Working Group on African Political Economy (WGAPE), 10th European Meeting of the Urban Economics Association, Northwestern Development Lunch, Northwestern Economic History Lunch, and the 2nd Annual Conference on Governance and Local Development (Gothenburg) for useful discussions and feedback. We are grateful to Ted Miguel, Tina Green, Mike Shand, and Philip Osafo-Kwaako for sharing historical data and many conversations. For excellent research assistance we thank Elizabeth Cameron, Mary-Crescent Carter, Mathias Ngowi, and Tenny Tsang. We thank staff at the Institute for Democracy, Citizenship, and Public Policy in Africa, at the University of Cape Town for assistance with the Afrobarometer data, the Tanzanian National Archives and the Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University for assistance with historical government data. Financial support from Northwestern’s Global Poverty Research Lab, Ford Motor Company Center for Global Citizenship at Kellogg School of Management and CIFAR’s Azrieli Global Scholars Program is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.