The Effect of Neighbourhood Diversity on Volunteering: Evidence from New Zealand
An empirical literature has found that neighborhood heterogeneity lowers people's likelihood of contributing to public goods. We show that the estimated effect of any concave neighborhood characteristic on behavior may be biased when “large” rather than “small” neighborhoods are used. Large boundaries omit the effect of differences between small neighborhoods, biasing a characteristic's total effect even when the omitted differences lack economic effect. We next use three New Zealand census rounds to test whether volunteering rates are lowered by neighborhood heterogeneity by race/ethnicity, birthplace, income or language. We find boundaries matter, with only ethnic/racial heterogeneity robustly associated with lower volunteering.
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