Moving to Diversity: Residential Mobility, Changes in Ethnic Diversity, and Concerns About Immigration
R. Koopmans, B. Lancee, & M. Schaeffer (Eds.), Social Cohesion and Immigration in Europe and North America: Mechanisms, Conditions, and Causality (pp. 38-55). London: Routledge, 2015
27 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 1, 2015
Studies on ethnic diversity and social cohesion are predominantly cross-sectional. Relying on longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel and applying a differences-in-differences design, this paper investigates how the event of moving to a more or less diverse neighbourhood affects people’s opinions about immigration up. This longitudinal design not only excludes reverse causality, but also renders unobserved heterogeneity a very unlikely alternative explanation. We show that individuals who move to a more diverse neighborhood are about 13% more likely to become very concerned about immigration. This effect remains even three years after the move. Because individuals who move to equal or lower diversity neighborhoods do not change their attitudes, it is not the event of moving as such that makes people more negative towards out-groups. Moreover, this study is the first to investigate whether previous experiences with diversity eliminate any threat effects of moving to a more diverse place. Interestingly, our results lend only partial support for this hypothesis, since those who to the top 15 per cent most diverse neighborhoods generally do not change their views. We consider whether this particular null-effect might be due to ‘threat immunity’ of such movers. Our sensitivity analyses questions this objection and instead suggests that populations often thought to be immune to threat seem to respond similarly.
Keywords: ethnic diversity, xenophobia, social cohesion, immigration
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