Local Inequality, Co-ethnicity, and Perceived Economic Status
Recent studies have found that the self-perceived, rather than the objective, income position affects individual political behavior. How, then, do individuals self-assess their own position? Based on previous studies, we expect that individuals make social comparisons with those that are nearest to them, taking information from their immediate physical environments. Also, they should focus in particular on people they identify with, which means that comparisons should be most likely within their co-ethnic networks. We use geo-coded Afrobarometer survey data from nearly 100,000 participants in 36 countries to study citizens’ perceived economic position and how this depends on the inequality surrounding them. To measure the latter, we employ a new method to estimate inequality with satellite data of nighttime light emissions. Measuring wealth as light consumption, we calculate the Gini coefficient in a two-kilometer radius around an individual’s location. Lastly, we use spatial data on ethnic settlements to investigate how co-ethnicity affects the relationship between local inequality and perceived economic position.