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Is there a tradeoff between ethnic diversity and redistribution? The case of income assistance in Canada

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  • Green, David A.
  • Riddell, William Craig

Abstract

Numerous studies conclude that ethnic/cultural/racial diversity has negative impacts on interpersonal trust and support for redistributive social programs. Although some Canadian public opinion data is consistent with this view, whether these impacts on public opinion are important enough to influence policy is unclear. Many scholars argue that Canada is an exception to experience elsewhere. This paper examines this question for the case of Canadian social assistance (welfare) policies - a central component of the social safety net. We exploit two salient features of recent Canadian experience. One is dramatic growth in the ethnic and cultural diversity of Canada's immigrant inflows in recent decades, but the extent of this growth has varied substantially across regions. The second is that welfare policies vary across provinces, and the ability of the provinces to employ different approaches to welfare programs has increased since the mid-1990s. We thus examine whether provinces that became more diverse reduced the generosity of their welfare programs, relative to provinces that experienced little change in the heterogeneity of their populations. We examine impacts of immigration on welfare benefit rates of four family types: single employables, single disabled, lone parents and couples with children. Our main finding is that there is limited evidence of increased immigration on any of these types other than families with children. Even in this case the estimated effects are small. Our study thus supports the view that Canada's experience stands as an example in which greater diversity has not reduced support for redistributive social programs.
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Suggested Citation

  • Green, David A. & Riddell, William Craig, 2017. "Is there a tradeoff between ethnic diversity and redistribution? The case of income assistance in Canada," CLEF Working Paper Series 10, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:clefwp:10
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/203340/1/CLEF-010-2017-Winter-Green-Riddell.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alan G. Green & David A. Green, 1999. "The Economic Goals of Canada's Immigration Policy, Past and Present," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(4), pages 425-451, December.
    2. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
    3. repec:zbw:espost:190836 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Michael Baker & Dwayne Benjamin, 1995. "The Receipt of Transfer Payments by Immigrants to Canada," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(4), pages 650-676.
    5. Algan, Yann & Hémet, Camille & Laitin, David D., 2011. "Diversity and Public Goods: A Natural Experiment with Exogenous Residential Allocation," IZA Discussion Papers 6053, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2001. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 500-528, June.
    7. Yann Algan & Camille Hémet & David D. Laitin, 2016. "The Social Effects of Ethnic Diversity at the Local Level: A Natural Experiment with Exogenous Residential Allocation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(3), pages 696-733.
    8. Johnston, Richard & Banting, Keith & Kymlicka, Will & Soroka, Stuart, 2010. "National Identity and Support for the Welfare State," SULCIS Working Papers 2010:11, Stockholm University, Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.
    9. Matz Dahlberg & Karin Edmark & Heléne Lundqvist, 2012. "Ethnic Diversity and Preferences for Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(1), pages 41-76.
    10. Ana M. Ferrer & Garnett Picot & William Craig Riddell, 2014. "New Directions in Immigration Policy: Canada's Evolving Approach to the Selection of Economic Immigrants," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(3), pages 846-867, September.
    11. Matz Dahlberg & Karin Edmark & Heléne Lundqvist, 2012. "Ethnic Diversity and Preferences for Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(1), pages 41-76.
    12. Nathan Berg & Todd Gabel, 2015. "Did Canadian welfare reform work? The effects of new reform strategies on social assistance participation," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 48(2), pages 494-528, May.
    13. Holger Stichnoth & Karine Van der Straeten, 2013. "Ethnic Diversity, Public Spending, And Individual Support For The Welfare State: A Review Of The Empirical Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(2), pages 364-389, April.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

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