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Ethnic Diversity: Strength or Weakness?

It is often said that ethnic diversity is a strength. This article will review the fact that a large body of empirical research on social functioning, the economy, government, schools, and relationships, points to the opposite conclusion.

Social Functioning

First of all, there is a wealth of literature showing that people tend to get along better when they are alike rather than different. Research has repeatedly found that friends and spouses are more similar, in just about every way imaginable, than average (Bryne, 1971Myers, 2008 pg 399). Moreover, the more similar spouses are the more satisfied they tend to be with their marriage and the less likely they are to get a divorce (Luo and Klohen, 2005Bryne, 1971Caspi and Herberner, 1990).

Experimental evidence backs up this data too. In these studies, researchers measure various traits of individuals before they meet and then see whether pre-meeting similarity predicts who ends up liking who. The finding, repeated over dozens of studies, is that the more similar people are the more they end up liking each other (Bryne, 1971NewComb, 1961Lee, 1996Myers, 2008 pg 400).

This may be why, as is shown in numerous lines of evidence, people prefer the company of their own race. For instance, Ingraham (2014) reported on a study done by the Public Religion Institute which found the following:


Similarly, according to a report by Pew:

“Among adults who are white with no other race in their background, fully 81% say that all or most of their close friends are white. Among single-race blacks, 70% say that all or most of their close friends are black. And among single-race Asians, 54% say all or most of their close friends are Asian.”

Furthermore, when people do succeed at forming friendships across racial lines, those friendships are far more likely to fail. One found that after controlling for sex, race, age, parental SES, family structure, immigration status, shared extracurricular activities, grade point averages, school attendance, drug abuse, friendship reciprocity, and friendship closeness, that interracial friendships were far more likely to fail relative to monoracial friendships (Rude and Herda, 2010).

The same pew report I referenced before also found that about 88% of new marriages in America are to members of the same race.

People’s racial preferences don’t stop at these close relationships either. Studies also show significant racial segregation in terms of the neighborhoods people live in and the churches they attend (Pew, 2014Lipka, 2014). In fact, race is a better predictor than income is of where people choose to live (Ross, 2011).

Given all this, it should come as no surprise that there is a body of research showing that racial diversity destroys social harmony. The most well-known study in this literature is Putnam (2007). Putnam, a Harvard political scientist, analyzed a set of over 40 regions across the united states and looked at how ethnic diversity related to various measures of “social capital”. He held regional differences in age, poverty, crime, and other variables, constant and found that the more ethnically diverse a region was the lower its level of social capital was. In particular, Putnam found that the more diverse a community was the less trust residents reported having in their neighbors, the less people trusted local government and media, the less people voted, the less people gave to charity, the less people worked on community projects, and the fewer friends people had. Perhaps most strikingly, people in diverse communities were less happy overall and less satisfied with their lives.

Laurence and Bentley (2015)  replicated Putnam’s findings in England and, utilizing data on an 18 year period, found that the more diverse a neighborhood became the less people reported liking their neighborhood and engaging with their neighbors.

Similar, Lancee and Drunkers (2008) looked at social capital and ethnic diversity within the Netherlands. They utilized data from a Danish survey which asked questions about how much people trusted their neighbors. After controlling for differences in gender, educational attainment, marital status, and income, the study found that the more ethnically diverse a person’s postal code was the less trust they had in their neighbors.

The negative relationship between ethnic diversity and social cohesion has also been demonstrated in various “micro contexts”. For instance, Martinez and Doughtery (2013) looked at 75,000 people across nearly 400 church congregations and found that being a member of the dominant racial group of the congregation predicted a greater sense of belonging in the church, having more friends in the church, and participating in more church activities.

Similarly, Montoya and Briggs (2013) found that people reported having a better experience in firms when the customer service representative they dealt with was a member of their own race. Finally, Dinesen and Sonderskov (2015) found that ethnic diversity within an 8o meter radius of a person’s home was related to less social trust.

The negative relationship between diversity and trust has also been established in lab experiments. Glaeser et al (2000) had participants (White and Asian Harvard students) play an economic “game” in which one person sent another person a sum of money of their choosing. That money they sent was then doubled money and the receiver had a chance to send some money back to the person who gave them the initial sum of money. This is a very basic measure of altruism, fairness, and trustworthiness. The researchers found that the receivers sent back far less money when they were paired with someone of another race. In fact, over 90% of the cases in which no money was sent back took place with racial diverse pairs of people.

The Economy

Ethnic diversity also has a negative relationship with economic success. In general, the richer a nation is the less ethnically diverse it tends to be.

National Wealth.png

(Last, 2016A)

Diversity is also correlated with slow economic growth. This was the finding of Alesina et al. (2002) who found that ethnic diversity correlated at  -.471 with economic growth between 1960 and 2000 in a sample of 119 countries. This association persisted when controlling for initial income, education, public debt, whether a nation was in sub-Saharan Africa, whether a nation was in Latin America, and other potentially confounding variables. The relationship’s strength was such that going from perfect homogeneity to perfect heterogeneity was predicted to decrease a nation’s growth rate by 1.9%.

The same paper found that diverse nations tended to be more corrupt, have bigger government, be less friendly to business, and score worse on measures of adult literacy.

Research on smaller levels of aggregation report the same finding. For instance, looking at US counties between 1970 and 2000, Alesina and Ferrara (2003) found that ethnic diversity is negatively associated with economic growth even after controlling for the initial size and wealth of the county in 1970.

Finally, there is a significant body of economic research on group efficiency linking ethnic diversity to weak performance. Williams and O’Reilly (1998) came to this conclusion in their review of the literature:

“There is substantial evidence from both laboratory and field studies conducted over the past four decades that variations in group composition can have important effects on group functioning. These studies show that increased diversity, especially in terms of age, tenure, and ethnicity, typically have negative effects on social integration, communication, and conflict.”

Government and Politics

Another unfortunate effect of racial diversity is that it sets the stage for political tribalism. People vote based on the interests of their ethnic group rather than the interests of the country at large. This likely plays a role in why Blacks and Hispanics in America are more likely than Whites to support higher taxes on the rich. Such taxes are largely a redistribution of money from the hands of White people into the hands of minorities.

Blacks and Hispanics also support banning “hate speech” while most Whites do not. Given that hate speech laws are essentially laws against saying certain mean things about non-Whites, it is not hard to understand why racial groups would differ in their support for these policies.

Hate Speech

YouGov (2015)

Perhaps more surprisingly, race trumps ideology when it comes to voting in the US, at least for non-Whites. Even Blacks and Hispanics who self-identified as conservative voted for Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential election, as did Blacks and Hispanics who wanted a smaller government and who took conservative positions on social issues like abortion and homosexuality (Last, 2016B). They were voting based on tribe, not policy.

This has had a profound effect on US politics. Though Whites do not vote in the block like manner that non-Whites do, they have consistently voted republican (sometimes by very narrow margins) in every election of the last 40 years.

Every democrat elected in that time can be attributed to “diversity”, and the non-Whites who voted them in did so not just based on policy, but also, more fundamentally, based on tribe.

This is not how a democracy is supposed to work, but diversity makes it so.

Racial Diversity and Education

Ethnic diversity also has a strong negative effect on schools. For instance, one analysis of 3 million students over a 7 year period found that students had higher test scores when their teacher was of their own race (Egalite and Kisida, 2015). This was true even after controlling for poverty, past grades, and other variables.

While that effect applies to all races, many aspects of diversity are especially bad for Whites. For instance, a report by the department of education looked at how the proportion of a school that is black predicted student performance on achievement tests given in the 4th, 8th, and 12th, grades. The report found that, on average, both whites and blacks did worse in school the larger the school’s black population was.

Furthermore, several studies have shown that minorities are more likely than Whites to bully kids at school and that they disproportionately target White kids as the victims of their bullying (Faris, 2006; Hanish and Guerra, 2000; Tippettt et al., 2013)

On top of this, data from the US Department of Education reveals that Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than Whites to be involved in fights either on-campus or off-campus. Department of Education data also shows that as a school becomes more racially diverse: racial tensions increase, verbal abuse of teachers increases, classroom disorder increases, student disrespect for teachers increases, gang activity increases, the frequency of cult or extremist groups on campus increases, as does the number of serious violent incidents recorded on campus.

That violence increases with school diversity should be unsurprising given the role that minorities play in juvenile crime. For instance, data from the US Department of Justice shows that, as of 2014, Blacks ages 10-17 were twelve times more likely than Whites of the same age to be arrested for robbery, seven times more likely to be arrested for murder, four times more likely to be arrested for aggravated assault, three times more likely to be arrested for weapons violations, property crime, and theft, 2.4 times more likely to be arrested for rape, 1.6 times more likely for vandalism, and 1.4 times more likely to be arrested for abusing drugs.

Given all this data, the following conclusions of a group of researchers who looked at the effects of diversity on school satisfaction and discrimination shouldn’t surprise us:

“As the proportion of Black students [in a school] rose, student satisfaction with their university experience dropped, as did their assessments of the quality of the educational environment and the work ethic of their peers. In addition, the higher the enrollment diversity, the more likely students were to say they personally experienced discrimination… The same pattern of negative correlations between educational benefits and increased Black enrollment also appeared in the responses of faculty and administrators.”

As if all this wasn’t enough, perhaps most damningly, research has shown, that (regardless of race), attending a school with high concentrations of minorities significantly increases a student’s probability of committing suicide (Faris, 2006).

Diversity is not a strength in schools. Sometimes, it is a deadly weakness.

Inter-racial Relationships

Lastly, let’s look at how racial diversity affects families. Some people assume that mixed race individuals must be superior because of “hybrid vigor”, a concept they probably learned about in high school biology. It is true that crossing evolutionary lines is sometimes evolutionary advantageous. However, “outbreeding depression” is also a basic concept in biology and describes the opposite phenomenon. Both are conceptually sound. To see what sort of people interracial families tend to produce, we need to turn to empirical data.

First, consider the results of Udry et al. (2003). This study looked at kids from 80 schools between grades 7 and 12 and found that biracial kids were more likely than monoracial blacks, whites, and asians, to smoke, drink, consider suicide, be in poor physical health, skip school, and be suspended. It also found that, compared to Asians and Whites, but not Blacks, they were more likely to have sex and repeat grades. These negative outcomes were found among mixed race children that were black/white, asian/white, and asian/black.

Also consider these results from a study of biracial Asian americans:

“A new study of Chinese-Caucasian, Filipino-Caucasian, Japanese-Caucasian and Vietnamese-Caucasian individuals concludes that biracial Asian Americans are twice as likely as monoracial Asian Americans to be diagnosed with a psychological disorder. Zane and his co-investigator, UC Davis psychology graduate student Lauren Berger, found that 34 percent of biracial individuals in a national survey had been diagnosed with a psychological disorder, such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse, versus 17 percent of monoracial individuals. The higher rate held up even after the researchers controlled for differences between the groups in age, gender and life stress, among other factors. The study included information from 125 biracial Asian Americans from across the U.S., including 55 Filipino-Caucasians, 33 Chinese-Caucasians, 23 Japanese-Caucasians and 14 Vietnamese-Caucasians. The information was obtained from the 2002-2003 National Latino and Asian American Study, the largest nationally representative survey ever conducted of Asian Americans.”

Similar findings have been replicated in other studies and psychologists have argued that they can be explained by the fact that mixed race individuals are likely to feel alienated from society due to having no racial group to fit into (McVeigh, 2014).

Also, consider racial diversity‘s impact on marital stability. Kreider (2000) found that, after controlling for whether or not couples cohabitated, whether the husband was previously married, whether the parents grew up in a two-parent home, whether or not they consider religion to be very important, and whether or not they are childless, interracial marriages were 40% more likely to end in divorce than same race marriages.


In conclusion, several lines of evidence point to the conclusion that racial diversity has a negative effect on social function, the economy, our government, our schools, and our families. Not all of these associations have been proven to be true causal relationships. However, given that so much evidence suggests that diversity negatively affects us in so many ways, the burden of proof should be shifted onto advocates of diversity to show that the increase in diversity that the left so often pushes won’t damage our society. Until they can show this, and so far they can’t, we should be skeptical of those telling us that “diversity is a strength”.

  • John Singleton

    All this based upon poorly cited so called “Works” … I guess you can publish any idiotic idea and call it scientific fact. That is the sadness of the Internet.

  • anaveragejoe

    Ethnic diversity becomes a not so subtle tool to whipsaw and fracture the cohesiveness of the people, always to the benefit of the ruling class. There is no better example than the USA itself that is so divided along ethno centric lines and that will only get worse.