Does Immigration Erode Social Capital? The Conditional Effects of Immigration-Generated Diversity on Trust, Membership, and Participation across 19 Countries, 1981-2000ISER External Seminars

This article is an attempt to qualify existing evidence that increasing diversity is detrimental to a vibrant civil society. We focus specifically on immigration-generated diversity, and argue that while it may have negative effects on some specific civic and political outcomes in some contexts, these effects vary widely across advanced democracies. Our argument rests on analysis of a cross-national, cross-sectional time-series dataset that brings together individual level World Values Survey data with country-level variables. With these data, we track within country changes over time in trust and engagement. We show that immigration can have a negative effect on social trust, organizational membership, and political engagement, but that institutional arrangements shape this relationship in systematic ways. In more economically equal societies and in more multicultural countries (where cultural minorities are recognized and accommodated), the negative effects of immigration on trust and engagement are mitigated or even reversed. We conclude that there is no general link between immigration-generated diversity and collective-mindedness. Rather, the direction and strength of the relationship depend on institutional and policy contexts.

Presented by:

Christel Kesler (Nuffield College, University of Oxford) Co-author: Irene Bloemraad (University of California, Berkeley)

Date & time:

12 Oct 2009 15:00 pm - 12 Oct 2009 16:30 pm


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