The Limited Local Impacts of Ethnic and Racial Diversity

American Politics Research, Forthcoming

37 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2010 Last revised: 3 May 2013

Date Written: March 24, 2010


The U.S. has more immigrants than at any time since the 1920s and immigration rates remain high. Past research unequivocally predicts that the resulting increase in ethnic and racial diversity will reduce local investments in public goods. By analyzing a new, comprehensive data set on U.S. cities from 1950 to 2002, this paper challenges those predictions. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the percent black had no strong impacts on local public goods. Since the 1970s, the impact of diversity has been limited chiefly to criminal justice, an issue that has remained racially coded, nationally salient, and relevant to localities. Contrary to past work, diversity’s influence on local public goods is neither pervasive nor consistent. These findings challenge static conceptions of local ethnic and racial divisions, and they suggest a connection between diversity’s local impacts and trends in national politics.

Keywords: public goods, ethnic and racial diversity, U.S. cities, local politics

Suggested Citation

Hopkins, Daniel J., The Limited Local Impacts of Ethnic and Racial Diversity (March 24, 2010). American Politics Research, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN:

Daniel J. Hopkins (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States


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