Diversity is not a strength

“Diversity is a Weakness, Not a Strength”

“”Diversity is a strength” is one of those Orwellian maxims that’s just generally accepted as truth by most Americans despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

“Greater diversity equals more misery.” An extensive study by a liberal Harvard professor of political science revealed that diversity hurts civic life. “…based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, … Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam…found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.”

“People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’ – that is, to pull in like a turtle,” Putnam writes.

In documenting that hunkering down, Putnam challenged the two dominant schools of thought on ethnic and racial diversity, the “contact” theory and the “conflict” theory. Under the contact theory, more time spent with those of other backgrounds leads to greater understanding and harmony between groups. Under the conflict theory, that proximity produces tension and discord.

Putnam’s findings reject both theories. In more diverse communities, he says, there were neither great bonds formed across group lines nor heightened ethnic tensions, but a general civic malaise. And in perhaps the most surprising result of all, levels of trust were not only lower between groups in more diverse settings, but even among members of the same group.

“Diversity, at least in the short run,” he writes, “seems to bring out the turtle in all of us.”

“The extent of the effect is shocking,” says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist…”We can’t ignore the findings,” says Ali Noorani, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

Economists Matthew Kahn of UCLA and Dora Costa of MIT reviewed 15 recent studies in a 2003 paper, all of which linked diversity with lower levels of social capital. Greater ethnic diversity was linked, for example, to lower school funding, census response rates, and trust in others. Kahn and Costa’s own research documented higher desertion rates in the Civil War among Union Army soldiers serving in companies whose soldiers varied more by age, occupation, and birthplace. Birds of different feathers may sometimes flock together, but they are also less likely to look out for one another. “Everyone is a little self – conscious that this is not politically correct stuff,” says Kahn.

“The only thing that ever allowed Americans to believe that diversity is a strength was our uniting culture. Without the now-destroyed Melting Pot to keep us together, diversity is one of our nation’s great weaknesses.” (4)

Other scientists have confirmed Putnam’s conclusions: “Analyzing survey data for the United States from 1972 to 1998, we assess the claim of Robert Putnam and others that interpersonal trust in America has eroded in recent decades. We examine changes in trust by attempting to estimate age, period, and cohort effects. We find a nonlinear aging effect: Trust is lowest among the youngest Americans, increases up to middle age, and then levels off. We also find over-time decreases in U.S. trust. These may stem from a nonlinear cohort effect: Generations born up to the 1940s exhibit high levels of trust, but each generation born after that is less trusting than the one before. We argue that some of the over-time decline might also stem from an age-specific period effect: Beginning in the 1980s the trust of young and middle-aged Americans declined steadily. We note that if successive generations continue to be less and less trusting, then through a process of cohort replacement U.S. society will become pervaded by mistrust.” (7)

Critique of Putnam’s work is very limited. (8)

“Polls show that Trump’s American-first immigration policy is very popular. For example, a December poll of likely 2018 voters shows two-to-one voter support for Trump’s pro-American immigration policies, and a lopsided four-to-one opposition against the cheap-labor, mass-immigration, economic policy pushed by bipartisan establishment-backed D.C. interest-groups.” ~ by Neil Munro12 Jan 2018, Breitbart.

(1) https://wcfia.harvard.edu/publications/downside-diversity
(2) http://www.saddleback.edu/…/docu…/Thedownsideofdiversity.pdf
(3) http://www.nytimes.com/…/ame…/05iht-diversity.1.6986248.html
(4) https://townhall.com/…/diversity-is-a-weakness-not-a-streng…
(5) Putnam’s book from 2000, “Bowling Alone.” https://books.google.com/books…
(6) Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital, article by Putnam. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/16643/summary
(7) http://www.sciencedirect.com/…/article/pii/S0049089X00906926
(8) http://journals.sagepub.com/d…/abs/10.1177/0306396805052518…
(9) http://www.breitbart.com/…/lindsey-graham-americans-countr…/
(10) The Downside of Diversity, in Boston Globe. http://archive.boston.com/…/08/05/the_downside_of_diversity/

(11) Putnam’s full study from 2007: “Putnam, Robert D. (June 2007). E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and community in the twenty-first century”. Scandinavian Political Studies. Wiley. 30 (2): 137–174. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9477.2007.00176.x. The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture.

About budbromley

Bud is a retired life sciences executive. Bud's entrepreneurial leadership exceeded three decades. He was the senior business development, marketing and sales executive at four public corporations, each company a supplier of analytical and life sciences instrumentation, software, consumables and service. Prior to those positions, his 19 year career in Hewlett-Packard Company's Analytical Products Group included worldwide sales and marketing responsibility for Bioscience Products, Global Accounts and the International Olympic Committee, as well as international management assignments based in Japan and Latin America. Bud has visited and worked in more than 65 countries and lived and worked in 3 countries.
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