Monday, September 12, 2016

Robert Putnam on the Negative Effects of Diversity

Robert D. Putnam’s paper “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty‐First Century” (2007) should be required reading for multiculturalist leftists.

From the abstract:
“Ethnic diversity is increasing in most advanced countries, driven mostly by sharp increases in immigration. In the long run immigration and diversity are likely to have important cultural, economic, fiscal, and developmental benefits. In the short run, however, immigration and ethnic diversity tend to reduce social solidarity and social capital. New evidence from the US suggests that in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’. Trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer. In the long run, however, successful immigrant societies have overcome such fragmentation by creating new, cross-cutting forms of social solidarity and more encompassing identities. Illustrations of becoming comfortable with diversity are drawn from the US military, religious institutions, and earlier waves of American immigration.”
Putnam (2007: 137) begins by asking how increasing ethnic diversity and multiculturalism in the Western world affect social cohesion, or what Putnam calls “social capital,” in terms of social “reciprocity and trustworthiness.”

High levels of social cohesion (or social capital) lead to societies with much better outcomes with respect to everything from economic, social, and health outcomes to happiness (Putnam 2007: 138).

Putnam is of course a multiculturalist liberal: he thinks mass immigration and ethnic diversity are desirable and a social asset in the long run (Putnam 2007: 138).

However, Putnam argues that in the short run mass immigration and diversity break up social cohesion and inhibit social capital (Putnam 2007: 138).

Let us examine Putnam’s analysis of ethnic diversity and its negative consequences below:
(1) Putnam (2007: 141–142) first notes that the “contact hypothesis” (beloved by liberals) argues that diversity enhances inter-ethnic tolerance and social solidarity.

Unfortunately, says Putnam, most empirical studies refute the “contact hypothesis” and actually provide evidence for the “conflict theory”: the latter being that
“ … diversity fosters out-group distrust and in-group solidarity. On this theory, the more we are brought into physical proximity with people of another race or ethnic background, the more we stick to ‘our own’ and the less we trust the ‘other’ …” (Putnam 2007: 142).
Putnam cites an impressive range of studies in support of this as follows: Blumer 1958; Blalock 1967; Giles and Evans 1986; Quillian 1995 and 1996; Brewer and Brown 1998; Taylor 1998; Bobo 1999; Bobo and Tuan 2006.

Now Putnam does conclude that even the “conflict theory” is not exactly correct. But his own conclusions and thesis are even worse than the “conflict theory,” as we will see below.

(2) in terms of workgroups, as the internal diversity of groups increases (whether in terms of age, ethnicity, etc.), the more one finds lower group cohesion and lower satisfaction. Putnam cites evidence from both the US and Europe: Jackson et al. 1991; Cohen and Bailey 1997; Keller 2001; Webber and Donahue 2001.

(3) evidence from many nations shows that, as ethnic diversity increases, the more social trust falls (see Newton and Delhey 2005; Anderson and Paskeviciute 2006). Even worse, empirical studies relating to local regions of the US, Australia, Sweden, Canada and Britain show that rising ethnic diversity is accompanied by falling social trust and sometimes even falling investment in public goods (see Poterba 1997; Alesina et al. 1999; Alesina and La Ferrara 2000, 2002; Costa and Kahn 2003;Vigdor 2004; Glaeser and Alesina 2004; Leigh 2006; Jordahl and Gustavsson 2006; Soroka et al. 2007; Pennant 2005).

(4) even in the Third World, diversity brings deleterious effects. Studies show that in Pakistan, with rising clan or religious differences, this diversity is corrected with the failure of the maintenance of collective infrastructure (see Karlan 2002; Miguel and Gugerty 2005; Khwaja 2006).

(5) in behavioural experiments involving things like the prisoners-dilemma or ultimatum games, with a greater diversity of players, the more players are likely to cheat and defect (see Putnam 2007: 143).

(6) from his own reading of the evidence, Putnam himself suggests that increasing diversity may actually decrease both in-group social cohesion and out-group solidarity, a thesis which he labels “constrict theory” (Putnam 2007: 144). The evidence for this is given below in (7).

(7) Putnam cites the “Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey,” which was conducted in the Unites States in 2000 with a sample size of about 30,000 people (Putnam 2007: 144).

The results of this study are devastating to liberal multiculturalism: it shows that as diversity rises in a community and ethnic homogeneity is reduced, so inter-racial trust falls (Putnam 2007: 147). So it turns out:
“Inter-racial trust is relatively high in homogeneous South Dakota and relatively low in heterogeneous San Francisco or Los Angeles. The more ethnically diverse the people we live around, the less we trust them. This pattern may be distressing normatively, but it seems to be consistent with conflict theory.” (Putnam 2007: 147).
Even more devastating is the evidence that, as diversity rises, the more people tend to distrust their neighbours and even people like themselves, even of the same ethnic group or race (Putnam 2007: 148–149).

(8) Increasing ethnic diversity also leads to all sorts of other deleterious consequences, as follows:
(1) decreasing confidence in government and the news media;

(2) lower frequency of voting registration;

(3) decreasing expectation that others will provide cooperation necessary for collective action;

(4) fewer people participating in community projects;

(5) less giving to charity;

(6) fewer close friends;

(7) less happiness and the perception of a lower quality of life;

(8) more disengagement from the world and more time spent watching television (Putnam 2007: 149–150).
(9) In short,
“Diversity seems to trigger not in-group/out-group division, but anomie or social isolation. In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’ – that is, to pull in like a turtle.” (Putnam 2007: 149).
Putnam concludes that these findings support his own “constrict theory” of the negative consequences of diversity (Putnam 2007: 149).

While diversity does not necessarily increase inter-ethnic hatred,
“… inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbours, regardless of the colour of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television. Note that this pattern encompasses attitudes and behavior, bridging and bonding social capital, public and private connections. Diversity, at least in the short run, seems to bring out the turtle in all of us.” (Putnam 2007: 150–151).
The findings are also true regardless of poverty, economic inequality, or the affluence of a community (Putnam 2007: 153, 157). Even though some differences exist, they are generally true even with respect to men and women, liberal and conservative people, whites and non-white people, and even young people and older generations (Putnam 2007: 153–154).

Increasing diversity per se always seems to have the same negative effect (Putnam 2007: 153).
Most notably, the negative effects of diversity are very clear and significant amongst liberals as well (Putnam 2007: 154), despite the widespread myth that liberals love diversity.

And even amongst young people the somewhat more receptive attitude to diversity may be nothing but a passing phase of life (Putnam 2007: 155).

Though Putnam does not discuss the issue, it seems rather obvious that greater diversity is more likely to destroy the chances for a democratic socialist society, a vision so beloved by the left.

If anything, democratic socialism requires a high trust and hence highly homogeneous society. Diversity is more likely to reduce people to atomised, isolated people, disconnected and distrustful of the people around them.

Another issue not in Putnam’s paper is this: do the negative consequences of diversity also include a lowering of the birth rate? Maybe it does in some minor way or maybe not, but it is an interesting question, nevertheless.

Putnam’s liberal spin on all this emerges from p. 159 of the paper.

In the long run, Putnam contends, America will be able to overcome the terrible, divisive effects of increasing ethnic diversity. At first, he appears to endorse the melting pot assimilation model of liberal nationalism as the solution (Putnam 2007: 160–161).

However, Putnam stumbles badly when he discusses the history of American immigration as a model for how to solve the diversity conundrum (Putnam 2007: 162). As I have shown here, the degree of ethnic diversity in American history is grossly exaggerated and a subject of liberal myth-making. Before the 1960s, most immigrants were Europeans and mostly Christians (albeit of different denominations). These immigrants were from broadly compatible European cultures, and the increasing negative effects of diversity back then (Putnam 2007: 162) were more easily solved in the long run by the melting pot model of assimilation. But that model may not work with profoundly different Third World cultures that mass immigration brings into the West today. Even more importantly, as Putnam himself notes, the era of mass immigration into America was largely halted from 1924 to 1964 (Putnam 2007: 162), to give time for assimilation to proceed. Today mass immigration is unending, even accelerating, and there is no halt in sight.

So, in short, what is the hard evidence Putnam can provide that in the long run everything will be alright with accelerating mass immigration and diversity?

Well, it turns out that it’s all based on a “hunch” that Putnam has:
“Nevertheless, my hunch is that at the end we shall see that the challenge is best met not by making ‘them’ like ‘us’, but rather by creating a new, more capacious sense of ‘we’, a reconstruction of diversity that does not bleach out ethnic specificities, but creates overarching identities that ensure that those specificities do not trigger the allergic, ‘hunker down’ reaction.” (Putnam 2007: 163–164).
Well, I am sorry, that is not good enough. What if your hunch is wrong?

The hand-waving assertion that, in the long run, everything will be just fine with multiculturalism and mass immigration is nothing but faith-based social science. In Europe, we are already seeing the failure and the beginning of the collapse of this extreme multiculturalist faith.

So what if the pessimistic critics of mass immigration policy are correct?:

My own conclusion is this: the evidence seems clear that the regressive left obsession with diversity and mass immigration is doing horrendous harm to the possibility for an effective Social Democratic vision for the Western world with left heterodox economic policies, and, above all, to the possibility of a democratic socialism, which entails a high trust and, whether leftists like it or not, a highly homogeneous society.

Alesina, A., Baqir, R. and W. Easterly. 1999. “Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 114: 1243–1284.

Alesina, A. and E. La Ferrara. 2000. “Participation in Heterogeneous Communities,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 115: 847–904.

Alesina, A. and E. La Ferrara. 2002. “Who Trusts Others?,” Journal of Public Economics 85: 207–234.

Anderson, C. J. and A. Paskeviciute. 2006. “How Ethnic and Linguistic Heterogeneity Influence the Prospects for Civil Society: A Comparative Study of Citizenship Behavior,” Journal of Politics 68: 783–802.

Blalock, H. M. 1967. Toward a Theory of Minority-Group Relations. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

Blumer, H. 1958. “Race Prejudice as a Sense of Group Position,” Pacific Sociological Review 1: 3–7.

Bobo, L. D. 1999. “Prejudice as Group Position: Microfoundations of a Sociological Approach to Racism and Race Relations,” Journal of Social Issues 55: 445–472.

Bobo, L. D. and M. Tuan. 2006. Prejudice in Politics: Group Position, Public Opinion and the Wisconsin Treaty Rights Dispute. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Brewer, M. B. and R. J. Brown. 1998. “Intergroup Relations,” in D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske and G. Lindzey (eds.), Handbook of Social Psychology (4th edn.). Oxford University
Press, New York.

Cohen, S. G. and D. E. Bailey. 1997. “What Makes Teams Work: Group Effectiveness Research from the Shop Floor to the Executive Suite,” Journal of Management 23: 239–290.

Costa, D. L. and M. E. Kahn. 2003. “Civic Engagement and Community Heterogeneity: An Economist’s Perspective,” Perspectives on Politics 1: 103–111.

Giles, M. W. and A. Evans. 1986. “The Power Approach to Intergroup Hostility,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 30: 469–485.

Glaeser, E. and A. Alesina. 2004. Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe: A World of Difference. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Jackson, S. et al. 1991. “Some Differences Make a Difference: Individual Dissimilarity and Group Heterogeneity as Correlates of Recruitment, Promotions and Turnover,” Journal of
Applied Psychology
76: 675–689.

Jordahl, H. and M. Gustavsson. 2006. “Inequality and Trust in Sweden: Some Inequalities are More Harmful than Others,” Ratio Working Paper 106. Stockholm: Ratio.

Karlan, D. 2002. “Social Capital and Group Banking,” Unpublished manuscript, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Keller, R. T. 2001. ‘Cross-Functional Project Groups in Research and New Product Development: Diversity, Communications, Job Stress and Outcomes,” Academy of Management Journal 44: 547–555.

Khwaja, A. I. 2006. “Can Good Projects Succeed in Bad Communities?,” Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government Working Papers.

Leigh, A. 2006. “Trust, Inequality and Ethnic Heterogeneity,” Economic Record 82: 268–280.

Miguel, E. and M. K. Gugerty. 2005. “Ethnic Diversity, Social Sanctions and Public Goods in Kenya,” Journal of Public Economics 89: 2325–2368.

Newton, K. and J. Delhey. 2005. “Predicting Cross-national Levels of Social Trust: Global Pattern or Nordic Exceptionalism?,” European Sociological Review 21: 311–327.

Pennant, R. 2005. Diversity, Trust and Community Participation in England. Home Office Findings 253, Research, Development and Statistics Directorate.

Poterba, J. M. 1997. “Demographic Structure and the Political Economy of Public Education,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 16: 48–66.

Putnam, Robert D. 2007. “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty‐First Century. The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture,” Scandinavian Political Studies 30.2: 137–174.

Quillian, L. 1995. “Prejudice as a Response to Perceived Group Threat: Population Composition and Anti-immigrant and Racial Prejudice in Europe,” American Sociological Review 60: 586–611.

Quillian, L. 1996. “Group Threat and Regional Change in Attitudes towards African Americans,” American Journal of Sociology 102: 816–860.

Soroka, S. N., Helliwell, J. F. and R. Johnston. 2007. “Measuring and Modeling Interpersonal Trust,” in F. M. Kay and R. Johnston (eds.), Social Capital, Diversity and the Welfare State. UBC Press, Vancouver.

Webber, S. S. and L. M. Donahue. 2001. ‘Impact of Highly and Less Job-related Diversity on Work Group Cohesion and Performance: A Meta-analysis,” Journal of Management 27: 141–162.

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  1. I'd like to see some coverage (not of course demanding from you) of where this field has gone since this release. It was years in the making, then was sat upon and so I'd like to see advances/retreats on the arguments therein.

  2. A have a broader question that may or may not apply to this post. What standard(s) should one adopt when determining whether a policy should exist or not? For instance, when considering drug legalization, one could argue whether prohibition:

    -is economically efficient
    -violates the rights of those wanting to consume drugs
    -should be left to the states

    When you have a mixture of different ways to analyze an issue (e.g., normative, economic, constitutional, etc.), what analysis deserves priority when drawing conclusions especially when they contradict each other that may be the case of limited or lax immigration?

  3. This is something that I've noticed too. It's something that is something of a deep dark secret in the US.

    The US advertises itself as very culturally and ethnically diverse. In some senses this is true. In others it is not. There is a strong tendency toward ghettoisation in the US. Various groups will tolerate one another but mainly through politeness (and increasingly: political correctness, which enormously damages inter-racial communication by setting up anxieties and barriers from the get-go). They will tend not to interact however or at least not intimately.

    The approach to the 'other' is very different in small homogenous communities, like Ireland (where I'm from). The lack of PCism will cause more frequent overt racism. Nasty people will say nasty racial things more than in the US because they have less fear. But integration is far more rapid among normal well-adjusted people. They are far less inclined to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around the 'other' and so they will openly ask them about their culture and engage. Ghettoisation tends not to happen and absorption is very quick.

    I've experienced all of this myself as my girlfriend is a half-black, half-hispanic American and she has commented on all this at length. (It's very rare that people from such backgrounds ever experience anything outside of the US where they are rapidly ghettoised).

    You saw similar trends with integration in the UK with first-wave immigrants - from the West Indies, India etc. Those that are still having issues are mainly due to class-based issues and actually have fully integrated with impoverished whites. But the recent waves of (mainly Middle Eastern) immigration has created ghettos in the UK - and they are far worse than what exists in the US (where all the separate ghettos do in fact identify with American culture directly).

    Why? So far as I can tell it has to do with sizing. It is not hard to integrate controlled streams of immigrants into any society. I think that this is enormously beneficial and enlivens the society by, amongst other things, introducing a more diverse gene-pool (people will be better looking for one!). But very large-scale, uncontrolled immigration can be very damaging. The US is one giant melting pot and the darker side of that is very evident to me from living there. But in the US it still largely works because the immigrants have been assimilated to a common way of life and a shared (kind of, sort of) identity. It is in Europe that we are seeing something that is becoming problematic happening.

    1. the illusionist

      as i already noted before in my opinion the dark truth is that the lack of politically correctness and in some case rude behaviour (in limits) toward strangers make them feel less comfortable with their own culture and identity and make them seek the culture values and identity of the host country in order to be recognized as part of the host culture community because assimiliation and integration is a key of acceptence in the host culture in this case.

      while pcism create a situation where you can stay in your comfortable zone with your values and culture and there is no incenetives to abandon your culture and values and embrace new ones.

      now i am not saying that its always fine and that its pleasent but in order to maintain healthy stable country the state have to embrace uniculturism instead of multiculturism and its should advance its native language native culture and customs and values and actievly fight ghettozation by public housing and even prohibit it by law since ghettozation and self segregation is a huge threat for country wellbeing and stability.

      also i think you are right when you are saying that its depending on the number of people which coming into your country because if critical mass of people of the same community coming to your country they are become self sufficent in their segregated ghettos and their need to assimiliate in the society is going rapidly down.

  4. Clearly sad, but it's something that needs to be addressed before it explodes in our faces, and the Populist Far-right gains the initiative and gains power.

    1. That is the only way it will be addressed, and probably not even then. I've used the phrase "two city types" here before. They are the ones who won't admit there's an issue with terrorists even after we lose a city to a bomb or Sarin or whatever. They won't budge until we lose two cities, and many won't budge even then. Cultural leftists and SJWs measure their moral worth by their commitment to relativist blather and posing. Many will never change. (How's it hanging, Kevin Wayne?)

  5. The Japanese are often mocked for their many peculiar customs, but in avoiding immigration they are more than probably right.

    Their bet is technology and increased productivity, to a point in which a single worker can sustain many retirees.

  6. Fantastic job here. Putnam's study is one of the shibboleths of the Alt-Right, so I am glad that a self-described Left-wing blog picks it up, therefore showing how much of a real issue this is, not some tin-foil worry of the far-right.

    Bringing in massive amounts of foreign workers serves capitalists in three ways:

    -first and short term, they get a cheaper labor force.

    -second, they prevent the integration of the newcomers in the established trade unions due to their ethnic/cultural differences.

    -third, when necessary they get to pitch different groups of workers against each other due to those same differences.

    France is a textbook example of all this. Arab immigrants were initially lauded. By 1983, just when Mitterand was giving up on his heterodox economic policy (the so-called 'tournant de la rigeur'), the first clashes about immigration started to take place, and well as the public debate about prayer in the workplace and related issues. The Front National (FN) started to rise around that time, and the then ruling Socialist Party abandoned all intention of ever again be an economic alternative, focusing instead on "anti-racism" and the social issues so typical of the New Left. The Communist Party did pretty much the same. As a result, the FN has been winning a bigger and bigger share of the working class vote, especially since they dropped fiscal conservatism in the early 00s in favor of economic nationalism. Meanwhile the center-right of Sarkozy has always used the issues of "national identity" and law & order to fish for votes among ordinary whites.

    It's amazing how clueless some progressives are on this issue, believing all the open borders propaganda.

  7. Japan's problem though is a strange cultural dysfunction with sex and other gender roles. I do wonder what role Neoliberal Capitalism plays in it too, as it especially broke down following the bursting of the Japanese Asset bubble in 1990.

  8. What about a more practical critique? This is the intellectual stuff but how about something more substantial that matters to working people.

    This is how immigrant workers on zero-hour contracts and worse tend to live, and non-immigrant workers have to compete with that:

    Your points are why some of the Conservatives voted "Leave" but does not explain Labour.

    Labour's leave voters don't really object to "free movement of people", and had no problems with it before the low wage countries of eastern Europe joined the EU, and the UK government started advertising UK jobs in consulates in Poland and Romania. What they don't like is free immigration of very poor desperate people who are willing to work long hours for £4-5 pounds/hour and live 2-4 to a room and who therefore compete with them for jobs in the rich southern market towns.