Article written by DPDF 2010 Discrimination Studies Fellow Rengin Bahar Firat and Pascal Boyer, featured in Social Science Research, Volume 53:
Many studies converge in suggesting (a) that ethnic and racial minorities fare worse than host populations in reported well-being and objective measures of health and (b) that ethnic/racial diversity has a negative impact on various measures of social trust and well-being, including in the host or majority population. However, there is much uncertainty about the processes that connect diversity variables with personal outcomes. In this paper, we are particularly interested in different levels of coalitional affiliation, which refers to people’s social allegiances that guide their expectations of social support, in-group strength and cohesion. We operationalize coalitional affiliation as the extent to which people rely on a homogeneous social network, and we measure it with indicators of friendships across ethnic boundaries and frequency of contact with friends. Using multi-level models and data from the European Social Survey (Round 1, 2002–2003) for 19 countries, we demonstrate that coalitional affiliation provides an empirically reliable, as well as theoretically coherent, explanation for various effects of ethnic/racial diversity.