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Contact, Diversity, and Segregation

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  • Uslaner, Eric

    () (Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS)

Abstract

There is a growing concern across the West that diversity (and immigration) has led to a decline in trust and social cohesion. In this working paper, which is based upon the core theoretical chapter of my book under contract to Cambridge University Press, Segregation and Mistrust, I argue that it is not diversity but segregation that drives down trust. I argue that the negative effects of diversity have been overstated, as has the simple idea that contact among people of different backgrounds will build trust. There is stronger evidence for Allport's "optimal contacts," where people have deeper and more frequent contacts based upon a foundation of equality. There is little evidence of a direct link between diverse contacts and trust. Nor is there strong evidence of a negative relationship between diversity and trust. I argue that it is not diversity but residential segregation that drives down trust. To build trust, people must live in neighborhoods that are integrated and diverse-and have heterogenous friendship networks-as Allport and Pettigrew have argued. I show that diversity and segregation are not the same thing and show that segregation leads to both greater inequality and worse outcomes on several measures across American communities and across nations. I also argue that governmental multiculturalism policies reinforce a strong sense of ethnic identity, which leads to high in-group trust at the expense of generalized trust.

Suggested Citation

  • Uslaner, Eric, 2011. "Contact, Diversity, and Segregation," SULCIS Working Papers 2011:5, Stockholm University, Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sulcis:2011_005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    trust; segregation; diversity; multiculturalism;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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