The debate around the benefits of diversity and multiculturalism is a raging one. In order to analyze general political attitudes, assess incoherent views, and extract a larger perspective in relation to government policy, one needs to take a look at views seeking to promote inclusivity at school, in neighborhoods, and at the work place.
These policies include immigration, affirmative action, racial and gender admissions/employment quotas, artificially lower admissions/employment standards, and economic based affordable housing programs with respect to the phenomena of white fight. White flight refers to the propensity of European Americans to migrate from racially mixed urban regions to more racially homogeneous suburban regions (Shertzer & Walsh 2016)( Boustan & Robert 2013) (Boustan 2010) (Ledwith & Clark 2007).
Attitudes about “freedom of association” must also be investigated. Defined as “the right to form societies, clubs, and other groups of people, and to meet with people individually without interference by the government” by The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (2017), freedom of association is recognized as a Human Right in Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In reference to regulations or standards seeking to artificially lower test scores or admissions requirements (Sowell 2004), metrics of job performance (Kalev, Kelly & Dobbin 2006), or otherwise provide quotas for certain demographics (Feinberg 2015), attitudes are generally poor – with whites having more negative attitudes toward affirmative action policies in the workplace than blacks (Levi & Fried 2008), and “color-blind” racial attitudes relating strongly to measures of racial prejudice (Gushue and Constantine 2007) (Neville, Lilly, Duran, Lee & Browne 2000).
Robert Putnam defines “social capital” as the “features of social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit.” In his analysis of the post-war United States, Putnam (1995) found a reduction in nearly all forms of civic engagement like political involvement including decreased voter turnout, public meeting attendance, serving on committees and working with political parties, loss of membership and number of volunteers in religious groups, labor unions and fraternal orders. Putnam cites distrust in government as attributing to the erosion of social engagement, among other things like changes in family structure (single parent homes), suburban sprawl and television – which he calculates has contributed up to 40 percent of the decline in civic involvement.
Putnam has addressed additional reasons for the decline in social capital. In a follow up study he analyzed the role of ethnic diversity in industrialized nations as a mechanism of facilitating the erosion of social trust. The data showed that immigration and ethnic diversity reduce social solidarity and tend to make people more suspicious of out groups (those with a racial or ethnic identity separate from their own), as well as members of their in-group (Putnam 2007).
Negative opinions have characterized affirmative action as intrusive government policy and are usually accompanied with views that can be characterized as “meritocratic” (Kaiser, Drury, Spalding, Cheryan & O’Brien 2009), localist, or communitarian. The latter sees local communities as being the final arbitrator of admissions and hiring standards, agreeing with data that there exists a large segment of the population that wishes to maintain freedom of association in opposition to any government policy of forced integration (Masci 2016).
Even among those that have expressed support for racial or gender based inclusion programs under the auspices that they are meant to help disenfranchised segments of the population; there is often a modicum of support for localism when described under the contextual framework of normative property rights (Freedom of Speech Survey 2016). This puts at odds two conflicting views: First, that government compulsion is acceptable, generally when such intervention is aimed at aiding one’s own demographic group. Second, the rejection of compulsory measures that may interfere with one’s own voluntary initiatives or interactions.
Those who hold these incoherent views have argued that segregation or other historical examples of institutional discrimination now necessitate compensatory government policy aimed at providing benefits to minorities. When presented with data showing no or negligible effects of such programs however, opinions can become more supportive of laissez faire academic and employment policy. The data includes looking at the effects of California’s Proposition 209, which banned the use of racial preferences in admissions at public colleges.
The state ratified Amendment is shown to be responsible for only 41 – 82 percent of a 4.35 percent increase in the graduation rate of minority students after implementation (Arcidiacono, Aucejo, Coate & Hotz 2004). In addition, affirmative action has been shown to provide no discernible benefits for majority race students. An analysis of data on graduates of 30 universities showed weak evidence of any correlation between postgraduation outcomes of white or Asian students and academic racial composition (Arcidiacono & Vigdor 2010).
Attitudes regarding the level of economic based affordable housing programs have generally been positive. Though satisfaction with affordable housing has slumped around the world, a recent poll showed that 70 percent of North Americans are content with the level of housing programs provided in their countries (Riffkin 2014). Affordable housing programs provide disadvantaged peoples with housing subsidies. Rent control for example, refers to law placing a maximum price, or a “rent ceiling,” on what may be charged of tenants. The effects of rent control have been thoroughly analyzed by economists. In New York City, where 171,000 households were dependent on federal, state, and local housing subsidies including rent control; 30,000 New York apartments were abandoned annually, a loss of almost a third of a million units (Tucker 1990).
The city exhibits a shortage of affordable housing, and since 1970 income has remained stagnant while rent has nearly doubled (Begley, Jaclene., Brazill, Caitlyn., Reina, Vincent & Weselcouch 2011). Meanwhile the poverty rate for African Americans is 23.7 percent and the poverty rate for Hispanics is the highest in the city at 30 percent (POVERTY IN NEW YORK CITY 2012). Economists explain the shortage of affordable housing in New York City in terms of supply and demand. If rents are established at less than their equilibrium levels, the quantity demanded will necessarily exceed the amount supplied, and rent control will lead to a shortage of dwelling spaces and decrease in the quality of product (Block 1993).
In the presence of these rent control policies, New Yorkers have spent more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent in the city as it has remained racially and economically segregated (Mapping Segregation 2015) (Ellen, O’Regan, Schwartz, Stiefel, Neal & Nechyba 2002). The literature on rent control has consistently correlated more expensive rents to government policy (The High Cost of Rent Control n.d). In addition, New York City whites have exhibited significantly higher all-cause mortality rates when living in predominantly black or Latino areas (Inagami, Borrell, Wong, Fang, Shapiro & Asch 2006). Also, rent control has attributed to an economically and statistically significant fraction of apartments being misallocated across demographic subgroups (Glaeser & Luttmer 2003).
Historically, whites have responded poorly to racial integration. During the period between 1910 and 1970, 6 million African-Americans moved out of the rural Southern U.S. to the urban Northeast. Prior, 90 percent of blacks lived in the American South (Gibson & Jung 2002) with only one fifth living in urban areas (Taeuber & Taeuber 1966). By the end of this Great Migration, 40 percent of blacks lived in the North and more than 80 percent lived in cities (The Second Great Migration n.d.). The European American response to this was significant. Data shows that each new black arrival led to 2.7 white departures to suburban areas, leading to the decrease of urban populations by 17 percent (Boustan 2009).
This white flight can be attributed in part to civic costs associated with the new influx of black populations. These included effects on access to public goods, school systems and political representation – as well as effects on property values and labor markets (Boustan 2007). Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and desegregation of public schools, patterns of white flight continued. From 1960 to 1970 white metropolitan populations declined 9.6 percent, 16.2 percent in the Northeast (Blakeslee 1978), with forced busing being attributed to the cause of families is some areas leaving their traditional homes (Clotfelter 2004). A good case study for current researchers might be to analyze, in depth, white reactions to current immigration policy, both as enacted by the Obama Administration during the Obama presidency and as proposed by sitting President Donald Trump.
Arguably, the election of the latter was a referendum on immigration. According to the first poll taken after President Trump issued an executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries, 43 percent of voters said they were strongly or somewhat supportive of banning immigrants from Muslim countries in order to prevent terrorism (Ipsos Poll Conducted for Reuters Immigration Ban 2017). By 2065, the population of the U.S. is projected to swell by 117 million people, with immigrants accounting for 88 percent of that growth. As such, no majority racial or ethnic group would exist and one in three Americans would be an immigrant or have immigrant parents (Pew Research Center 2015).
Attitudes regarding data pertaining to the cost of immigration, and welfare consumption rates by certain immigrant groups have been generally negative. A recent poll found that among Trump supporters, 56 percent said immigrants burden rather than strengthen the U.S. by taking job, housing and healthcare opportunities (Pew Research Center 2016). As such, 51 percent of households headed by a legal or illegal immigrant reported using at least one welfare program. Seventy-three percent of immigrants from Central America and Mexico collect from at least one welfare program, compared to 30 percent of native U.S. households (Camarota 2015). Additionally, analysis has showed a net fiscal drain of $74,722 per illegal immigrant on the U.S. economy. That amount becomes $94,391 when added to the costs of U.S.-born descendants (Camarota 2017).
Overall however, the most negative sentiments pertaining to immigration are usually reserved for refugee resettlement policy (Jones 2015). Data revealed that each refugee from the Middle East cost taxpayers $64,370, or $257,481 per household during their first five years to resettle (Zeigler & Camarota 2015). That’s 12 times more than UN cost estimates for refugee care in adjoining Middle Eastern countries. Researchers may wish to probe attitudes in relation to these issues further in order to ascertain what fears and motivations are driving resentments toward pending demographic displacement and government diversity programs.
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