Ethnic Politics and Job Performance in the Kenyan Police

Oliver Vanden Eynde (Paris School of Economics)

Abstract: Using a panel of 6,725 Kenyan police officers 1955-1970, we show how ethnic politics encroached and changed the daily behavior of the members of the police force as soon as after Kenya’s first multiparty elections in 1961. We find a significant detoriation in discipline for Kikuyu officers after 1961, when the Kikuyu-dominated KANU party emerged as the most powerful political force. We investigate the channels of this detoriation in discipline. We find little evidence for selection: The quality of new recruits did not detoriate, nor did well-performing police officers disproportionately leave the force at independence. We also find little evidence that the reorganisation of police divisions caused the divergent trends. The effects appear to be driven by individual policemen changing their behaviour.