A Generalized Index of Fractionalization
Series/Report no.Cahier de recherche #2008-01
The goal of this paper is to contribute to the economic literature on ethnic and cultural diversity by proposing a new index that is informationally richer and more flexible than the commonly used ‘ethno-linguistic fractionalization’ (ELF) index. We characterize a measure of diversity among individuals that takes as a primitive the individuals, as opposed to ethnic groups, and uses information on the extent of similarity among them. Compared to existing indices, our measure does not require that individuals are pre-assigned to exogenously determined categories or groups. We show that our generalized index is a natural extension of ELF and is also simple to compute. We also provide an empirical illustration of how our index can be operationalized and what difference it makes as compared to the standard ELF index. This application pertains to the pattern of fractionalization in the United States.