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Social Indicators Research

, Volume 125, Issue 3, pp 853–883 | Cite as

Statistical and Perceived Diversity and Their Impacts on Neighborhood Social Cohesion in Germany, France and the Netherlands

  • Ruud Koopmans
  • Merlin SchaefferEmail author
Article

Abstract

The question whether ethnic diversity is associated with declining social cohesion has produced much controversy. We maintain that more attention must be paid to cognitive mechanisms to move the debate ahead. Using survey data from 938 localities in Germany, France, and the Netherlands, we explore a crucial individual-level mechanism: perceptions of diversity. We not only consider perceptions of the amount, but also of the qualitative nature of diversity. By asking about various qualitative aspects of diversity, we test the cognitive salience of three explanations that have been proposed in the literature for negative diversity effects: out-group biases, asymmetric preferences and coordination problems. We show that all three mechanisms matter. Perceptions both mediate statistical diversity effects, and have important explanatory power of their own. Moreover, we are able to address the question to what extend the relationship of perceived diversity and neighborhood social cohesion varies across policy contexts. Based on assumptions in the literature about positive impacts of inclusive and culturally pluralist immigrant integration policy approaches, we hypothesize that ethno-cultural diversity is less negatively related to neighborhood social cohesion in more inclusive policy contexts. Our results provide partial support for this hypothesis as perceived diversity has a significantly stronger negative impact on neighborhood cohesion in Germany.

Keywords

Social cohesion Social capital Ethnic diversity Immigration Intergroup relations Community erosion 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research is part of the project “Ethnic Diversity, Social Trust and Civic Engagement”, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Both authors have contributed equally to this article and the order of names is strictly alphabetical. We thank Joscha Legewie, Susanne Veit and members of the Department “Migration Integration Transnationalization” for helpful comments and ideas.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WZB – Berlin Social Science CenterBerlinGermany

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