Ethnoracial Homogeneity and Public Outcomes: The (Non)effects of Diversity
by Alexander Kustov, Princeton University and Giuliana Pardelli, Princeton University
Is ethnic or racial homogeneity beneficial to local communities? A common argument in the political science literature states that diversity undermines public outcomes. Many studies find empirical support for this hypothesis by comparing diverse and homogeneous communities. We distinguish between homogeneous communities composed of either dominant or disadvantaged groups and argue that it is often impossible to identify the effects of diversity due to its overlap with the share of disadvantaged groups. The US, for instance, only has a small number of white-minority localities and, among them, few are racially homogeneous. To differentiate between these effects, we focus our study on Brazilian municipalities where there are as many white-minority as white-majority localities across all levels of diversity. Contrary to existing findings, our analysis reveals that in fact more homogeneous Afro-descendant—not diverse—communities have the lowest provision of public goods. While we cannot rule out that diversity is influential in other contexts, our results challenge the popular idea that racial homogeneity is, in and of itself, beneficial for public outcomes.