Was Robert D. Putnam’s long self-suppressed study that diverse places have less social capital on average wrong?
A new study in Brazil finds that all-black towns tend to be worse than part-black towns, much as homogeneous East St. Louis is even worse than heterogeneous St. Louis:
ALEXANDER KUSTOV (a1) and GIULIANA PARDELLI (a1)
Published online: 19 June 2018
How does ethnoracial demography relate to public goods provision? Many studies find support for the hypothesis that diversity is related to inefficient outcomes by comparing diverse and homogeneous communities. We distinguish between homogeneity of dominant and disadvantaged groups and argue that it is often impossible to identify the effects of diversity due to its collinearity with the share of disadvantaged groups. To disentangle the effects of these variables, we study new data from Brazilian municipalities. While it is possible to interpret the prima facie negative correlation between diversity and public goods as supportive of the prominent “deficit” hypothesis, a closer analysis reveals that, in fact, more homogeneous Afro-descendant communities have lower provision. While we cannot rule out that diversity is consequential in other contexts, our results cast doubt on the reliability of previous findings related to the benefits of local ethnoracial homogeneity for public outcomes.
Of course, “diversity” is one of those auto-antonym words, like “cleave,” with opposite meanings.
For example, there are lots of complaints about the NFL quarterback position not being diverse enough, even though it’s reasonably representative of the white-black division in the American population. In contrast, you never hear respectable pundits claiming that the all-black position of NFL cornerback isn’t diverse enough, even though nobody but blacks has started at one of the 64 positions for the last 12 years. Because another definition of “diverse” is “black” and another definition of diverse is “Good” (as “black” also means “Good” in modern media speech).
Thus, it’s a crime against diversity that Beyonce has only won 22 Grammys. True diversity would be Beyonce winning all the Grammys.
So to point out that cornerback in the NFL is not diverse (under the traditional meaning of the word) is, under the Newspeak meanings, is to say, “I am Bad.”
Not surprisingly, it’s hard for people in 2018 to think cogently about such matters. As in 1984, that’s the point of the changes imposed upon the language.
Perhaps we need some way to distinguish between two present day meanings of the word “diverse.” We could say, for example:
St. Louis is more diverse than East St. Louis, but East St. Louis is more Diverse than St. Louis.
iSteve commenter ThirdWorldiSteveReader explains:
From the paper’s discussion:
Together these findings illustrate that our initial results on the negative effects of diversity are misleading. In fact, more diverse communities outperform homogeneous nonwhite localities in terms of service provision–and are thus found to have poorer outcomes
only when compared to homogeneous white municipalities. In other words, racial fractionalization is detrimental to the provision of public goods only to the extent that it reflects an increase in the nonwhite population share. That is, when we restrict our analysis to the sample of majority nonwhite localities—where diversity’s increase represents a higher proportion of white population—fractionalization ceases to be associated with worse outcomes.
In other words, the problem is not diversity per se: it’s the lack of white people. They managed to challenge a politically incorrect explanation by providing evidence of an even more politically incorrect explanation!
I’d like to see a study of racially diverse vs. non-diverse towns of similar social class. For example, does mixed Asian-white Irvine, CA do better or worse on Putnam’s metrics than still pretty white Pacific Palisades? Arcadia vs Sierra Madre?