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Social Engagement and Student Body Diversity at Elite American Colleges


  • Sharissa Barrow
  • Douglas Coate



Putnam has concluded that trust in others and civic and social engagement in the community are inversely related to the racial and ethnic diversity of the population. In this paper, we examine how measures of social engagement among college students vary with student body racial and ethnic heterogeneity at elite U.S. colleges. We find that socialization measures from the Fiske guide to colleges and from the Princeton Review guide to best colleges are inversely related to student body diversity. We also find that student retention from the freshman to the sophomore year is positively related to student body diversity. This may be because less intense social lives leaves more time for study during the freshman year, when students are learning to manage their time.

Suggested Citation

  • Sharissa Barrow & Douglas Coate, 2009. "Social Engagement and Student Body Diversity at Elite American Colleges," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2009-007, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
  • Handle: RePEc:run:wpaper:2009-007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Gilles Duranton & Laurent Gobillon & Sébastien Roux, 2010. "Estimating Agglomeration Economies with History, Geology, and Worker Effects," NBER Chapters,in: Agglomeration Economics, pages 15-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item


    social capital; social engagement; student body diversity; American colleges;

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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