The first-world has experienced a radical shift in demographics due to mass immigration over the last decades. But at what cost? As most of the Western world is becoming more multi-ethnic than ever in its history, does diversity make us stronger?
First of all, before we tackle this subject, we need to define diversity. According to Merriam Webster, it is the “the inclusion of different types of people in a group or organization.” This means that on a national scale, diversity can be the idea that different races or peoples of different cultural backgrounds immigrate to a certain country. On a smaller scale, it can mean efforts to prioritize ethnic or sexual minorities being hired by a company, hence the expression of diversifying a workplace. Multiculturalism and immigration are all directly intertwined with diversity. A multicultural society would indeed be a very diverse one, as it would include many different groups.
Before we even analyze the effects of diversity, let us first examine if it is popular among Westerners. Let’s begin with the United States, a country which admits around 1,000,000 new immigrants every year since the year 2000. A recent Harris Poll showed that most Americans want immigration as much as possible, supporting a cut to between 0 to 250,000 new immigrants, while 72% of Americans want less than a million. According to the poll, only 17% of Americans want an increase in immigration. Moreover, according to an A.T. Kearney-NPD Group survey, 61% of Americans believe that “immigration jeopardizes the United States.”
While it is possible that most Americans polled did not know the actual number of new immigrants admitted to the United States, the results still show that most people want a drastic decrease, as a cut closest to zero immigration is especially popular option in those who were polled.
It is also worth mentioning that last year, President Trump’s so-called Muslim ban, which was a temporary shutdown of immigration from Muslim-majority countries with high risks of terrorism, was supported by 55% of Americans according to a Morning Consult poll. Lastly, according to a recent CBS News/YouGov poll, 56% of likely swing voters in the 2018 US midterm elections believe immigration has made their lives worse. That number is 61% among White Americans, who believe as though immigration has changed their neighborhood for the worse. A majority of black Americans feel the same way according to the same poll, with 45% of black Americans saying mass Central American immigration has made their lives worse, showing mass immigration is not just unpopular among Whites.
In Europe, similar sentiments are echoed. A study conducted by Chatham House found that most Europeans want a ban on Muslim immigration. As for France, 61% of those surveyed believe all further Muslim immigration should be stopped. Similarly, Le Monde reported that 65% of French people believe there are too many foreigners. What’s more, a majority of French people felt displaced in their own country as 60% feel as though they do not feel home in their nation anymore.
From just looking at the aforementioned studies, immigration seems very unpopular among both Europeans and Americans, even without the consequences of diversity being presented. Despite this, the Western world is seeing unprecedented levels of immigration, the likes of which have never been seen before. Projections show White Americans could become a minority by 2050. This means that White Americans, who have historically been a 80% majority in the United States until 1965, will be reduced to a minority with only 43% in a process that will have lasted less than a hundred years. We will take a look at several studies to evaluate the impacts of diversity inflicted upon most of the first-world.
Effects of Diversity in Various Environments and Attitudes
Diversity can ultimately impact all levels and structures of a given society, including the workplace, schools, how people behave to others and how charitable they are. Many studies have been conducted over decades and demonstrated several symptoms of diversity on native populations and consequently the immigrant population.
With regard to science, the study Rushton (1989) shows that people detect genetic similarity and give preferential treatment to those who look similar to themselves. What this means is that a person will tend to be more friendly to someone of their race or, more broadly, of their ethnic group. This preferential treatment can be attributed to their common history, which creates a closer bond between those people due to their shared affinity. It is also logical that an African-American will tend to trust other fellow African-Americans because of their shared historical struggle.
Hartshorn et al. (2013) also suggests that ethnocentric behaviors come from biological evolution. So does J.P. Rushton’s theory of ethnic nepotism, which attributes one’s preferential treatment to their ethnic group to the Genetic Similarity Theory (GST), a biological trait which would explain why different ethnic groups in close proximity increases the likelihood of ethnic conflicts and nepotism.
Numerous studies have identified newborns developing preferential treatment to people of their own race very early on in their life. These findings can be found in Kelly et al. (2005), and Vogel et al. (2012), which show visual and aural preference for facial and oral characteristics of individuals of their race. Later in childhood, it has been found that classmates in more diverse schools tend to make friends with classmates of the same ethnic group rather than classmates of other ethnic groups.
This preference also evidently remains true for friendships and marriages. As found in internet dating patterns, racial preferences in dating are dominant while interracial dating is rare; Whites are the least likely to date outside of their race. Studies like Domingue et al. (2014) also show that spouses are more genetically identical than the national average. What this means is that people tend to marry others who are very close to them genetically, which translates to people of their own race or ethnic group. Another 2016 study shows that people are attracted to others who are like-minded, and that this attraction is hard-wired.
On Social Cohesion
One of the more well-known studies on the relationship between social cohesion and diversity is one that was conducted by Robert D. Putnam, a Harvard professor and political scientist. Despite contesting the use of his study by some people to argue against diversity, and arguing long-term diversity is beneficial despite having zero data to demonstrate this, the findings in his 2007 paper are clear: the immediate effects of diversity are a sharp decline in social cohesion, altruism, solidarity, and friendships between people in a given society. The paper found that people living in more diverse areas report lower levels of trust in their neighbors, are less involved politically, and the feeling of community disappears in more racially diverse areas.
In Australia, Wickes et al. (2014) assesses whether Putnam’s findings are correct was conducted. The results are lower social cohesion and an increase in “hunkering” as ethnic diversity in Australia increases, which provide support for Putnam’s findings in the United States. In Germany, the same is also true: Koopmans et al. (2014) finds a negative relationship between diversity and social trust: residential diversity leads to a significant decline in natives’ trust in their neighbors. Immigrants in diverse neighborhoods also suffer a decline in social trust due to a lack of native acquaintances.
A very recent May 2018 study, May 2018 study conducted by the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (original study in Dutch) explores the effects of the diversification of Dutch neighborhoods. As found in page 87: “Our analysis shows that, when a neighborhood becomes more diverse, it becomes less socially cohesive. This result is significant. Socio-economic factors have been taken into account. Although the socio-economic status of a neighborhood impacts cohesion, the impact of diversity on social cohesion is larger than the impact of socio-economic status.” Not only does diversity have a negative impact on social cohesion, but its consequences are higher than social cohesion between members of different social groups.
A Michigan State University study examined whether it is possible to have both social cohesiveness and a diverse community by running computer models of fictional neighborhoods in all continents. The findings suggest, as sociologist Zachary Neal said, that it is only a pipe dream; he explains the reason for this is because people form relationships with people who are close to themselves, socially, religiously, ethnically and racially. “In essence, when it comes to neighborhood desegregation and social cohesion, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
When it comes to group cooperation, the following study examined the behaviors of different groups when they had to interact with members of their ethnic group and out-group members and isolating the teams, and found that whether by group or one-on-one, heterogeneity makes cooperation less effective, and it is even less effective when the two groups have a history of conflicts. Likewise, the more a minority group increases in share of the overall population, the more it divides itself and the less it cooperates, as was the finding of this study on the formation of heterogeneous communities.
An interesting phenomenon that is worth noting is that of church segregation. Despite the diversification of the West, more than three quarters of Americans (8 in 10) today report attending churches where a single race comprises the supermajority of the churchgoer population according to the Pew Research Center. The majority of churches are over 80% non-Hispanic White. Among Hispanics, the same is true, with 61% reported the overwhelming majority of churchgoers are Hispanic. What this means is that people mostly prefer attending places of worship where their congregation belongs to their own ethnic group.
On Educational Environments
The White flight phenomenon, coined to describe the phenomenon upon which Americans of European ancestry are leaving multi-ethnic neighborhoods to live in more homogeneous areas, emerges within educational institutions. In a 2014 English study called School ethnic diversity and White students’ civic attitudes in England, it is found, after controlling for self-selection bias, that ethnic diversity in English schools is linked to a decline in trust, and that White British children are not more inclusive attitudes towards immigrant children. Diversity is shown to have a negative impact on trust in English schools.
A study from Denmark, which compiled data from Copenhagen school registers, found that once the immigrant population of a local school exceeds 35%, native Danes become far more likely to opt out of school; the research also finds the new school of choice for those who have opted out have on average 50% less immigrant pupils than the previous local school. The idea is that natives feel more uncomfortable studying among non-natives, which can be explained by the decrease in social cohesion the more diverse a local institution is, as we have previously demonstrated.
In the San Francisco Bay Area region, the White flight phenomenon also persists in schools, as White parents tend to pull their children out of schools the more Asian pupils there are. The consensus is that White children tend to become stressed out competing with Asian children who tend to perform better at school and are more single-minded than Whites. The findings reinforce the concept that less homogeneous schools tend to create more competition between the different groups, and make the educational environment less desirable for children, psychologically and socially.
On Workplace Environments
In Diversity and innovation, it is found that high ethnic diversity ultimately affects innovation negatively. Concurrently, it finds that a high diversity of people with different cultural values affects innovation positively. “Values diversity contributes positively to innovation output indicating that differences in mindsets, beliefs and attitudes contribute towards better problem solving and creativity.” The findings demonstrate that the best innovations originate in countries that are ethnically homogeneous but diverse in values. “A country that is ethnically homogeneous but diverse in values is the best combination for innovation. Countries like South Korea and Sweden fall into this category.”
When it comes to the representation of both sexes, gender diversity does not promote non-conformity in decision-making bodies according to Does Gender Diversity Promote Nonconformity, a study which compared conformity with the composition of sexes in given groups. The analysis does not find any evidence that the composition of men and women in the workplace or governmental bodies influence the expression of minority views. What this means is that promoting diversification in the workplace or government bodies does not encourage minority views from being expressed. However, on the other hand, and as stated in the study, high individual ability does.
An extensive study of over 700 American companies found that pro-diversity programs have very few benefits and may even have the opposite effect than intended on minorities. Pro-diversity programs increase the likelihood of White people feeling treated more unfairly because the company will prioritize minorities over them, while minorities and women are not more convinced the company is friendly for them because of their pro-diversity program. What’s more, the pro-diversity program is often used by companies as a tactic to deny allegations of discrimination merely by pointing out its existence within the company.
On Relationships Between Groups
Europeans are particularly hostile to immigration the more there is of it in their country. This study finds that the higher the immigrant population on a regional level in France, the higher the National Front, an anti-immigration party reputed for being particularly hostile to foreigners, will score in regional elections. Interestingly, a higher share of immigrants on a local level will cut out how many votes the anti-immigration party will obtain in the town or commune. This can be explained by the fact that immigrants generally choose urban areas to settle in, while rural voters tend to vote for nationalist parties to preserve the demographics of their own communities and the rest of their region.
Rummel (1997) examines the relationship between diversity and collective violence. It found that multi-ethnic countries governed by one state are more likely to turn to violence. At first glance, it makes sense: a state with multiple different ethnic groups will never achieve equal representation of the interests of all groups inhabiting the country. For instance, several of the conflicts in Africa can be attributed due to the poorly-drawn borders during decolonization, that were not made on the grounds of cultural and ethnic boundaries.
Likewise, according to The Nature of Conflict, a study which examined civil conflicts throughout recent history, genetic diversity has contributed significantly to social unrest, its intensity, economic inequality and conflicts between groups over the second half of the century. The study also finds genetic diversity in a given region has also negatively impacted social cohesion between peoples, and a growth in differences in political opinions. In Vanhanen (2012), the author explored the reason why ethnic conflicts occur in ethnically-divided societies and finds that ethnic heterogeneity explains 55% of the variation in the scale of ethnic conflicts.
It is possible to see those phenomena in the real world today. Although the West is becoming more diversified, American and European politics are more polarized than ever, especially on immigration. Donald Trump’s nationalist rhetoric proved to be successful during the 2016 election as it resonated among the White American working class who majoritarily voted for him. The outcome of the Brexit referendum was also a strong push back against the EU establishment. The Visegrád Group in Central Europe have turned to “far-right politics” and nationalism following the migrant crisis; more recently, they have boycotted EU migration talks, determined to being opposed to opening their borders and favoring preserving their national identity.
The new Italian populist government coalition, presenting an anti-immigration rhetoric, blocking new migrant boats and calling for mass deportations, is further proof of the hostility that emerges due as diversity increases. Other examples of European countries with an anti-immigration rhetoric are not lacking, with Austria or Croatia. While the pro-EU establishment has resisted in France and Germany against its opponents, it is worth noting the National Front (FN) in France scored second in the 2017 elections, and Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany won 94 seats last September. As mentioned in the introduction, anti-immigrant sentiments are growing, and will continue to create conflicts as the share of migrant populations grows within European countries.
On Public Health
The migration of different populations enables the spread of disease that were not previously present in the migrant host nation. While the cause of those diseases can be attributed to the huge disparity in cultural practices and the quality of healthcare across the globe, the migration of peoples allows the importation of micro-organisms and infectious viruses. Already in 2006, almost three quarters of newly newly diagnosed cases of tuberculosis, HIV and malaria in the UK were in foreign-born patients. According to a report by the Robert Koch Institute, there has been a significant increase in disease in Germany since 2015, which coincides with the year the migrant crisis started and the country accepted an unprecedented amount of hundreds of thousands of migrants.
To conclude, as presented, there are many documented downsides to the diversity experiment. Several studies indicate that forcing integration or hoping it will work by itself provides no results or, unintended negative effects, because social, cultural and racial differences between ethnic groups are irreconcilable on a large scale. As the demographics of most of the Western world continue to shift, it is expected that more ethnic tensions will arise.
While this article does not expand on the terrorist threats and criminal side-effects associated with mass immigration in the context of the current migrant crisis, it is without question that open border policies encourage and enable illegal immigration, illegal gun trafficking and foreign terrorists from exploiting the refugee crisis to enter Western Europe and commit acts of terror on European soil, whereas countries that have strong border policies, such as Poland or Hungary, do not suffer from terrorism, while preserving national homogeneity and a strong national identity.
(This article was updated on July 12, 2018 to reflect recent developments and include more information.)