Racial diversity, immigrants and the well-being of residents: evidence from US counties
This paper presents empirical evidence that racial diversity and immigrant population at the local level tend to be associated with lower life satisfaction for Whites by matching individual data with the county-level population data during the period 2005–2010. The magnitudes I find suggest that a ten-percentage-point increase in the share of the non-White population (approximately one half of a standard deviation) is associated with 0.006 and 0.007 points reduction in life satisfaction on a four-point scale for White men and White women, respectively. For White men, this effect appears to be driven by the percentage of the population that is Black. I also find that a ten-percentage-point increase in the percentage of the immigrant population (approximately 2 standard deviations) is associated with 0.009 and 0.021 points reduction in life satisfaction for White men and White women, respectively. The percentage of the non-White population seems to reduce older Whites’ life satisfaction more than that of younger Whites. Though the scale of the findings relating to the impact of local racial compositions and immigrant population is relatively modest, the findings may pose a challenge in the coming years as the percentage of the population that is non-White rises in the USA.
KeywordsLife satisfaction Happiness Well-being Racial Immigration
JEL classificationsJ15 I31
The author thanks three anonymous referees for their constructive comments and useful suggestions.
- Alesina A, Glaeser E, Sacerdote B (2001) Why doesn’t the United States have a European-style welfare state? Brookings Paper on Economics Activity, (Fall), 187–278.Google Scholar
- Beauchamp Z (2016) Vox: Donald Trump’s victory is part of a global white backlash. http://www.vox.com/world/2016/11/9/13572174/president-elect-donald-trump-2016-victory-racism-xenophobia (accessed 12 29, 2016).
- Becker G (1957) The economics of discrimination. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Betz W, Simpson N (2013) The effects of international migration on the well-being of native populations in Europe. IZA Journal of Migration 2(12).Google Scholar
- Blake, J. (2011). Are Whites racially oppressed? CNN.com . http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/12/21/white.persecution/index.html (accessed 3 7, 2016).
- Blalock HM (1967) Toward a theory of minority-group relations. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Caplan B (2006) “Immigration: seeing is understanding.” 5 17. http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2006/05/immigration_see.html.
- Caplan B (2016) “The hyperbole of Backlash.” http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2016/07/the_hyperbole_o_1.html.
- Caplan B (2014) “What the Swiss vote really shows.” http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2014/02/what_the_swiss.html.
- Caplan B (2012) Why should we restrict immigration? Cato Journal 32(1).Google Scholar
- Card, D., Dustmann, C., Preston, I. (2005). Understanding attitudes to immigration: the migration and minority module of the first European Social Survey. CReAM Discussion Paper.Google Scholar
- Cohen, P.N. (2016). Family inequality: “Looks like racist Southern Whites like Trump”. https://familyinequality.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/looks-like-racist-southern-whites-like-trump/ (accessed July 23, 2016).
- DiPasquale D, Glaeser EL (1998) The L.A. riot and the economics of urban unrest. J Urban Econ 43(1):52–78Google Scholar
- Doherty C (2006) “Attitudes toward immigration: in Black and White by Pew Research Center.” http://www.pewresearch.org/2006/04/25/attitudes-toward-immigration-in-black-and-white/ (accessed 12 29, 2016).
- Enos RD (2010) The persistence of racial threat: evidence from the 2008 election. American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Graham C, Eggers A, Sukhtankar S (2004) Does happiness pay? An exploration based on panel data from Russia. J Econ Behav Organ 55:319–342Google Scholar
- Isenberg N (2016) White trash: the 400-year untold history of class in America. New York City, VikingGoogle Scholar
- Key VO Jr (1949) Southern politics in state and nation. A.A. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Lee MYH (2015) Donald Trump’s false comments connecting Mexican immigrants and crime in the Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/07/08/donald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime/ (accessed 8 2, 2016).
- Longhi S (2014) Cultural diversity and subjective well-being. IZA Journal of Migration 3(13).Google Scholar
- Marshall J (2015) Talking points memo: you can't understand American politics without reading this study. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/you-can-t-understand-american-politics-without-reading-this-study.
- Milligan S (2016) U.S. News: this race is about race.. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-09-02/racial-tension-in-the-2016-presidential-election (accessed 12 29, 2006).
- New York Times (2011). Room for debate: is anti-white bias a problem?. http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/05/22/is-anti-white-bias-a-problem (accessed 3 7, 2016).
- Sacks, D.W., Stevenson, B., Wolfers, J. (2010). “Subjective well-being, income, economic development and growth.” NBER Working Paper No. 16441.Google Scholar
- Schmid K, Al Ramiah A, Hewstone M (2014) Neighborhood ethnic diversity and trust: the role of intergroup contact and perceived threat. Psychol Sci 3(665–74):25Google Scholar
- Sherfinski D (2015) Donald Trump on black lives matter: ‘I think they’re looking for trouble’ in the Washington Times .. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/9/donald-trump-black-lives-matter-i-think-theyre-loo/ (accessed 8 2, 2016).
- SurveyUSA (2005). How Americans view immigrants … as of 12/15/05. http://www.surveyusa.com/50State2005/50StateImmigration0512ByState.htm (accessed 8 1, 2015).
- The Economist (2016). Explaining the Brexit vote. http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21702228-areas-lots-migrants-voted-mainly-remain-or-did-they-explaining-brexit-vote.
- Tyson A, Maniam S (2016) Pew Research Center: Behind Trump’s victory: divisions by race, gender, education. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/behind-trumps-victory-divisions-by-race-gender-education/ (accessed 1 1, 2017).
- Vance JD (2016) Hillbilly Elegy: a memoir of a family and culture in crisis. Harper, New York CityGoogle Scholar