According to a comment on this 9gag post about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcoming immigrants:

queen_boxxy 1042 points · 28 Jan 2017

diversity has in fact incredibly negative consequences. biggest study done was by harvard professor robert putnam. he himself was a great supporter of multiculturalism and wanted his belief to be backed up by data which is why he started to do the study in the first place. funnily enough he proved exactly the opposite of what he hoped to find. he even refused to publish his findings for several years. luckily he eventually did anyway.

Is this quote accurate? Did Robert Putnam publish a study that found that diversity has "incredibly negative consequences"?

  • Welcome to Skeptics! Some sorts of questions aren't suited to this site. If something is "better or worse" is a value judgement, not an empirical fact. The advantages and disadvantages of diversity is a huge topic, and entire books have been written on it (including by Putnam), so we can't expect someone to give a definitive answer to that here. – Oddthinking Feb 10 '17 at 5:01
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    The other way to improve this question would be to move away from the 9Gag comment (Who cares if a 9Gag commenter is wrong?) and go more directly to the claims by Putnam. e.g. If you want to know whether one of Putnam's claims is right, take a claim from his Wikipedia page. Of course, it would be even better if you read his publications so you could see his own evidence to support his claims. – Oddthinking Feb 10 '17 at 5:07
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    "I want to know if the above quote is true." <- Can you explain which ONE of these you want to know? (1) Diversity has incredibly negative consequences. [Too broad/opinion-based] (2) Putnam's study was the biggest. [Ok] (3) Putnam was motivated to support multiculturalism [Off-topic] (4) Putnam's study exists and gives evidence that diversity has some negative effects. [Ok, but too easy. See Wikipedia for answer.] (5) Putnam "refused" to publish the findings for several years. [Ok] – Oddthinking Feb 10 '17 at 7:03

I am answering the current version of the question, which asks: 'Did Robert Putnam publish a study that found that diversity has "incredibly negative consequences"?'

Robert Putnam did publish:

The abstract explains:

Ethnic diversity is increasing in most advanced countries, driven mostly by sharp increases in immigration. In the long run immigration and diversity are likely to have important cultural, economic, fiscal, and developmental benefits. In the short run, however, immigration and ethnic diversity tend to reduce social solidarity and social capital. New evidence from the US suggests that in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’. Trust (even of one's own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer. In the long run, however, successful immigrant societies have overcome such fragmentation by creating new, cross-cutting forms of social solidarity and more encompassing identities. Illustrations of becoming comfortable with diversity are drawn from the US military, religious institutions, and earlier waves of American immigration.

He makes it clear that he is still in favour of diversity and immigration, despite these short term challenges:

Increased immigration and diversity are not only inevitable, but over the long run they are also desirable. Ethnic diversity is, on balance, an important social asset, as the history of my own country demonstrates.

In short, while he does show some negative short-term consequences, he does not characterise them as "incredibly negative".

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  • I don't know this needs to be in the answer, but does he talk at all about what kind of methods he uses, or how he arrives at his conclusions? I'm curious if it's anecdotal, based on crime statistics, etc. – rougon Feb 10 '17 at 13:32
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    @rougon: The substantial part of these "initial results" from a "longer-term study" is based on mining data from "a large nationwide survey, the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, carried out in 2000, with a total sample size of roughly 30,000." – Oddthinking Feb 10 '17 at 13:59
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    It would be interesting to know how much of the "hunkering down" is due to cultural differences, rather than ethnic ones. For instance, consider the effects of religious and quasi-religious cult groups withdrawing from the mainstream of an ethnically-homogenous society. – jamesqf Feb 10 '17 at 21:29

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