The social effects of ethnic diversity, a block-level study from France

by on May 5, 2016 at 1:33 pm in Current Affairs, Data Source, Economics, Political Science | Permalink

Relying on diversity measures computed at the apartment block level under conditions of exogenous allocation of public housing in France, this paper identifies the effects of ethnic diversity on social relationships and housing quality. Housing Survey data reveal that diversity induces social anomie. Through the channel of anomie, diversity accounts for the inability of residents to sanction others for vandalism and to act collectively to demand proper building maintenance. However, anomie also lowers opportunities for violent confrontations, which are not related to diversity.

A sentence from the conclusion explains that last bit more clearly: “…fractionalization has no effect on public safety, diversity being associated with social anomie within the housing blocks rather than violent confrontations among neighbors — helped as well by an increase in municipal policing in municipalities of high diversity.”

The paper also offers a useful but brief survey of what we know about ethnic diversity and social capital.  Here is an earlier ungated copy (pdf).

1 ruhkukah May 5, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Steve Sailer citing Robert Putnam to the rescue!

2 Urstoff May 5, 2016 at 3:28 pm

They mention Putnam in this very study.

3 Josh May 6, 2016 at 5:50 am

Hooray! Fewer people interacting with each other leads to fewer “violent confrontations”.

4 D May 6, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Except this is almost certainly false in the US where diversity, as used by academia and the media to mean % black and Hispanic, where that’s the #1 predictor of crime levels in an area.

5 asdf May 5, 2016 at 1:46 pm

“Our evidence points to a possible third explanation, viz. that the social anomie resulting from diversity yields no contacts among neighbors rather than hostile ones.”

6 Dan in Euroland May 5, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Avoidance becomes optimal.

7 Troll me May 5, 2016 at 8:31 pm

“no contacts among neighbors” is the suburban American norm, no?

Regardless of views on race, diversity, etc., even in an ethnically/culturally homogenous neighbourhood, I think the trend in this direction in recent generations has had negative effects on society. Among other things, atomized individuals and families are easier for the “powers that be” to manipulate and control. Not that such entities would always do so, but I think it poses a degree of social risk.

This might imply, for example, that in a situation of higher diversity, it would be desirable to have some community institutions (ideally bottom-up self-directed non-government stuff) which promote such things. Something as little as occasional community events/festivals, etc. which explicitly seek out participation and interaction between different groups. Like “get to know your community … there will be foods of cultures ABCD and all these different faith groups are coming out to represent themselves as well…”

8 asdf May 5, 2016 at 11:40 pm

While I have some agreement with the general sentiment, I remember my own suburban childhood being one of constant street games, sports, biking to the park and hanging out. It seemed to be a high trust environment where kids went out wherever all the time.

By contrast when I moved to the city the first place I lived was downtown. Not in the ghetto, but close enough and with vagrants around even though it was near nice areas and businesses. There nobody talked to one another and were afraid to go out at night. This last summer the national guard rolled through that street with a tank to restore order.

9 Josh May 6, 2016 at 6:02 am

I live in the suburbiest neighborhood imaginable. I practically never see kids playing in the streets and costly. Things seem to have changed in past 25 years or so. Probably a combination of fewer children in general and a quarter century more of the isolating effects of the suburbs,Nokia maybe a bit of helicopter/tiger mothering. It’s never to early to starts practicing for that field hockey scholarship

10 Floccina May 6, 2016 at 12:20 pm

I grew up playing basketball in outdoor courts and touch football in the street daily. My kids grew up with no one in the streets or parks and with the parks to far to walk to, but once on vacation we stayed with some of my wife’s family in a part of NYC that was mostly Hispanic and I was delighted to see a lot of kids playing touch football in the streets. I would like to have had that for my boys.

11 Josh May 6, 2016 at 5:57 am

Indeed. And the suburbs were the result of the destruction of ethnic communities that were extremely social and life was very community oriented. Now we have anomie and the bureaucratization of more and more aspects of life.

My father describes growing up dirt poor in Brooklyn (his father died when he as young, so he was poorer than most in his neighborhood). I grew up relatively rich in the suburbs. Perhaps, he is just a superior story teller, but, except for the dead father part, I would trade childhoods with him in a second.

On a related note, did you know Catholic Churches often used to have bars and bowling allies in the basement. Marginal devolution.

12 Steve Sailer May 6, 2016 at 6:38 am

The stories I hear from my in-laws about the walkable urban neighborhood of Austin on the West Side of Chicago before 1967 make it sound like an urbanist utopia.

13 Turkey Vulture May 5, 2016 at 1:54 pm

So if you were a rich capitalist and you wanted to prevent the lower classes from expropriating your wealth or changing the system that creates that wealth for them, it would be in your self-interest to try to maximize ethnic diversity among the lower orders to prevent them from banding together to demand proper country maintenance?

14 P May 5, 2016 at 2:22 pm


That’s Alex Tabarrok’s ideal society.

15 The Original D May 5, 2016 at 2:41 pm

You could try that, I suppose, but finding new customers and markets is easier.

16 wiki May 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Is it? The historical fact of few stable and liberal developed societies throughout history shows how hard it’s been to create functioning market economies that preserve both wealth and liberty over long periods of time. They are still in the minority today and seem easier to destroy than to create.

17 Troll me May 5, 2016 at 8:37 pm

Maaaybe. But only if you did so with the intention to use a “divide and conquer” strategy with respect to non-elite classes.

I do not attribute this to all pro-immigration types. But it seems rather clear that at least some politically involved types are perfectly willing to exaggerate/inflame such issues for the sorts of reasons you suggest.

In the longer run, this may in fact drive a resurgence of class consciousness. Whether or not that is desirable is an altogether different question.

But in my opinion, it seems that, if there is such a thing as “class war” or “class struggle”, there is an additional major asymmetry: the lower class must do so in a highly visible manner which allows other to say “you guys are engaging in class warfare and therefore are threatening, so we need to “pacify” you” – but, elites are able to pull their strings very much out of public view, enabling them to claim “you guys are the trouble makers, not us”. Simple things like requiring transparency in lobbying, political donations, etc., I think should be considered as a movement towards the ideal in this respect.

18 Doug May 5, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Only the French would measure social anomie at the demographic level.

19 Horhe May 5, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Won’t anomie also make it more likely that you are a sitting duck for pressure (backed by a credible threat of violence) from an organized group like a gang? So, it may not lead to violence among individuals, but it does lead to submissiveness on the part of an individual towards a group willing to get more violent, especially if the police has already been neutered (by fearing to enter the neighborhood except in full force and so on).

20 duderino May 5, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Newsweek reported that 27% of French Youth are sympathetic ISIS, so this is probably accurate.

21 Troll me May 5, 2016 at 8:44 pm

Can you link to that please? I’m curious how “sympathetic” is defined. Like, I think they are massively manipulated and kind of feel sorry for them in a very minor kind of way, but as a militarily capable entity, I believe that their ability to maintain, let alone project, power, must not be allowed to succeed whatsoever.

In which case, I’m both “sympathetic” but also strictly supportive of measures to degrade their capacity in a way that will not promote additional backlash.

22 Nebfocus May 6, 2016 at 1:40 am

It’s the first search result. Do you know how to internet? 😉

23 Troll me May 6, 2016 at 2:13 am

Obviously I can find SOME report. I wanted to know the specific one being referred to. Anyways, looks like it’s the same one. Perhaps the snark is warranted.

For example, the first hit describes it as a “favourable view”. Included in that would probably be a lot of folks who are anti-imperialist, but with more refined questioning would support degrading the military capacity of ISIS, and given several options of alternatives to ISIS as the political power in that region, would likely place ISIS dead last.

Actually, I checked out the survey company’s website and was not able to easily find the specific wording of the questions asked. It’s a very unrefined datapoint.

24 Josh May 6, 2016 at 6:05 am

Like a gang or a government.

25 Gordon Mohr May 5, 2016 at 3:48 pm

Did they only track anomie, or did they also include measures of camaraderie, reverie, bonhomie and ennui?

26 Jeff R. May 5, 2016 at 4:49 pm

This comment is deserving of obloquy.

27 Sam Haysom May 5, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Le Departament de la Terminologie Sociologique does not recognize the existence of camaraderie because it never turns up in a Baudelaire poem title.

28 Ricardo May 5, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Shall I be the first one to admit that I had to look up the word “anomie” in the dictionary?

(Is this a well known term that I had never come across? Is it perhaps a dog-whistle? Does it carry political overtones?)

29 Sam Haysom May 5, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Yea George Wallace coined it after punching Emile Durkheim until he gave him an especially subtle term to use. It’s super racist like the term youths.

30 Thor May 5, 2016 at 7:26 pm

That’s “yoof” to you, sir, thank you very much.

31 So Much For Subtlety May 5, 2016 at 7:45 pm

So the usual Leftist claque at MR doesn’t want to comment?

Science is cool isn’t it? Especially when it agrees with your priors. I particularly like the fact that it is French science. You know, those sophisticated Europeans the Left would like America to mindlessly copy.

The only good immigration level is none

32 msgkings May 5, 2016 at 7:52 pm

LOL, wrong.

33 Troll me May 5, 2016 at 8:49 pm

One must be mindless to copy good ideas. Or even to entertain the possibility that they might be useful or informative.

Which European ideas do American leftists want to copy aside from universal health care, which probably costs a lot less at the society-wide level?

34 Troll me May 5, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Intuitively, it makes sense that people with similar culture, practices, longer standing inter-family and community networks, will tend to have higher trust, at least in the medium and even longish term until various community linkages are established over time.

However, I think the literature that paints a negative picture on this issue tends to draw its data from places where there are identifiable reasons for why integration (not necessarily assimilation or melting pot) didn’t work very well. Rather famous cases including the banlieus of France and Molenbeek in Belgium.

Among various instances that prove that this need not apply, just consider the example of Canada. Indeed, there are some folks who simply distrust of people who are different from them, who dress different from them, who have an accent, a different colour of skin, etc. But that is not a very large part of the picture in Canada. In a tolerant society where there is ALSO explicitly constructed mechanisms do ensure that things go OK (in some circles, much reviled policies of multiculturalism, for example), things may indeed turn out quite well. In India or the Middle East, I expect every shop keeper to TRY to “fleece me” to the max, because that’s a normal part of negotiation. However, this is rare among people of those origins who have spent much of any time in Canada, as they rapidly learn that such strategies lead to a very bad reputation.

35 asdf May 5, 2016 at 11:55 pm

Canada is far away from most third world countries, so they get little immigration from the wrong kinds of immigrants. They also have a stricter skill based immigration system (which amounts to an IQ test).

The overall level of diversity in Canada is quite low. Canada is 80% white, America is 63%. Most of Canada’s non-whites are high IQ Asians. Most of America’s non-whites are NAMs. America is 12.2% black, Canada only 2.9%. America is 16.3% Latino. Canada only 1.2%.

Canada doesn’t have a major problem with NAM behavior because it doesn’t have any NAMs. Import the same demographics as the USA and you’ll have the same problems. It’s got nothing to do with how immigrants are handled, it has everything to do with the genetic composition and quantity of the immigrants.

36 Troll me May 6, 2016 at 2:18 am

It’s not an IQ test. It’s a human capital (education) points bonus.

I still haven’t been able to figure out what “NAM” means.

37 Gareth Wilson May 6, 2016 at 4:47 am

Non-Asian Minority.

38 Roy LC May 6, 2016 at 6:46 am

Comparing the US to Canada is not a good comparison regarding diversity because they have completely different diversity inheritances. About 12% of US diversity is basically inherited from two centuries ago. As to Latinos Canada was a much less diverse place when modern immigration began and while Latino’s made up ~4% of the US population at the beginning of the modern immigration era, at that time a lot of people considered very white non hispanic today were about as distinct from most whites as many Latinos are today.

39 drpgq May 6, 2016 at 11:02 am

Yeah I’m not sure I would agree. Brampton Ontario is somewhere where I don’t want to spend any time. Especially due to all the car insurance fraud scams that diversity seems to bring.

40 Troll me May 7, 2016 at 4:30 am

I think that’s a mostly a first generation thing.

41 Steve Sailer May 5, 2016 at 9:06 pm

Here’s my review of the 2009 French movie “The Class” about what it’s like to teach a very diverse class in Paris:

42 Steve Sailer May 5, 2016 at 9:47 pm

Way back in 2001, I wrote up an illustration of Robert D. Putnam’s finding that ethnic diversity undermines cooperation for developing public goods from my experience living in ultra-diverse Uptown in Chicago:

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