Project Project
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Ethnic Diversity and Social Cohesion in Germany

Research Fields
Migration, Integration, and Intercultural Conflicts
Project Management
Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung

Theoretical background and objectives

After more than half a century of mass immigration to Europe, the consequences of increasing ethnic diversity in Europe are far from clear. More specifically, one of the prominent questions on today’s research agenda is how ethnic diversity affects social cohesion and attitudes towards immigrants. This project aims to contribute to answering this question.

Recently, ample attention has been paid to the relation between ethnic diversity and social cohesion in the neighbourhood. Putnam (2007), for example, claims that in the short run, immigration and ethnic diversity tend to reduce solidarity and social capital. Several scholars report that ethnic diversity affects social cohesion (Lancee & Dronkers 2011; Letki 2008; Tolsma, Van der Meer & Gesthuizen 2009; Putnam 2007; Gijsberts, van der Meer & Dagevos 2011; Alesina & La Ferrara 2000)and attitudes towards immigrants (Schlueter & Scheepers 2010; Pettigrew & Tropp 2006).

To date, little longitudinal research has been done on the relation between ethnic diversity and social cohesion in Germany. The objective of this project is to carry out longitudinal analyses with the German Socio-Economic Panel Survey (GSOEP) and neighbourhood data on the zip code level. In short, I will examine the relation between neighbourhood diversity and indicators of social cohesion and attitudes toward immigration.



Alesina, A. & La Ferrara, E. (2000). Participation in heterogeneous communities. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(3), 847-858.

Gijsberts, M., van der Meer, T. & Dagevos, J. (2011). Hunkering Down in Multi-Ethnic Neighbourhoods? The Effects of Ethnic Diversity on Dimensions of Social Cohesion. European Sociological Review, DOI:10.1093/esr/jcr022.

Letki, N. (2008). Does diversity erode social cohesion? Social capital and race in British neighbourhoods. Political Studies, 56(1), 99-126.

Pettigrew, T. F. & Tropp, L. R. (2006). A Meta-Analytic Test of Intergroup Contact Theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5), 751-783.

Putnam, R. D. (2007). E pluribus unum: Diversity and community in the twenty-first century. The 2006 Johan Skytte prize lecture. Scandinavian Political Studies, 30(2), 137-174.

Schlueter, E. & Scheepers, P. (2010). The relationship between outgroup size and anti-outgroup attitudes: A theoretical synthesis and empirical test of group threat- and intergroup contact theory. Social Science Research, 39(2), 285-295.

Tolsma, J., Van der Meer, T. & Gesthuizen, M. (2009). The impact of neighbourhood and municipality characteristics on social cohesion in the Netherlands. Acta Politica, 44(3), 286-313.