“White Flight” or positive contact? Local diversity and attitudes to immigration in Britain

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Kaufmann, Eric P. ; Harris, G. (2015)

Does the local presence of immigrant groups increase White hostility to immigration? Most research finds that diverse neighborhoods reduce White opposition to minorities and immigration. However, most studies at higher geographies find the reverse effect. We confirm this pattern for England and Wales for 2009-2012. Yet, contextual studies are open to selection bias, which is where this article makes its main contribution. Is White tolerance in diverse neighborhoods the result of a positive effect of inter-ethnic contact, or does it arise from White flight, with anti-immigrant Whites exiting diverse areas but remaining within wider geographies as radicalized opponents of immigration? We provide the first attempt we are aware of to track the opinions of in- and out-migrants, as well as stayers, from local areas over an extended period. We use 20 years of large-scale geocoded British longitudinal data and find only limited evidence of selection effects associated with White flight.
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