Current Fellow

Persistent Effects of Diversity for Politics and Economics: The Case of Ottoman Turkey
Avital Livny
Fellow 2018-19

Despite considerable interest in the political and economic consequences of diversity, its true impact is difficult to estimate precisely because of the role of endogenous sorting in creating and then undoing patterns of inter-group contact. As a result, it is not yet clear what we know about the effects of diversity, especially in the longer-term. Professor Livny suggests that the Turkish case can be used to gain leverage on this very question.

Generations of intermingling between Muslims, Armenians, Greeks and Jews came to an abrupt end toward the end of the Ottoman Empire and in the early decades of the Turkish Republic through a state-sponsored program of homogenization, leaving behind an almost entirely religiously homogenous country. During her CAS appointment, Professor Livny will investigate how historical levels of religious diversity correlate to patterns of economic development, public goods provision and inter-group tolerance in Turkey today, combining geo-referenced Ottoman census data with contemporary statistics and representative survey data. Initial results suggest a substantive and significant positive effect of diversity on inter-group tolerance, indicating that diversity may indeed have a longer-term impact, one that does not operate through formal institutions, as is often assumed, but may indicate alternative, less formal channels of transmission, such as culture.