At which geographic scale does ethnic diversity affect intra-neighborhood social capital?

R. Sluiter, J. Tolsma, P. Scheepers

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The claim that ethnic diversity within the living environment would hamper bonding and bridging social capital has been studied extensively, producing highly inconsistent findings. We studied whether ethnic diversity effects depend on the geographic scale at which ethnic diversity is measured. We examined ethnic diversity effects on intra- and inter-ethnic contacts in the neighborhood, respectively on opposition to ethnic in- and out-group neighbors. Hypotheses were derived from Blau's meeting opportunities thesis and contact theory, ethnic competition theory, and constrict theory. Using information about 2545 Dutch respondents with their locality defined as egohoods and administrative units, we found that ethnic diversity effects vary with the geographic scale. Ethnic diversity of smaller localities is positively associated with bridging social capital. At larger scales, the findings are mixed: ethnic diversity is positively related to inter-ethnic contacts and opposition to out-group neighbors. Ethnic diversity of smaller localities is negatively related to bonding social capital. In contrast to often-made claims that diversity within the local context would matter most, estimates of diversity effects are not always stronger when diversity measures are aggregated to smaller geographic areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-95
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue numberNovember 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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