Is There a Trade-off between Multiculturalism and Socio-Political Integration? Policy Regimes and Immigrant Incorporation in Comparative Perspective

Irene Bloemraad, University of California, Berkeley
Matthew Wright, American University

Attacking multiculturalism has become a cliché: politicians and academics argue that public support for cultural pluralism impedes immigrants’ integration. But is this true? We assess the effects of multicultural and citizenship policy on immigrants’ socio-political integration, examining reported trust, discrimination, identity, political interest and non-electoral participation in 18 Western countries. We compare absolute levels of immigrants’ responses across policy regimes and immigrant/ native-born gaps in outcomes using the European Social Survey (2002-2008) and single country surveys from the United States and Canada. We observe no evidence that immigrants in more multicultural countries are less attached to or less engaged in their political community than those in countries with few multicultural policies. We also find that immigrants in Canada, which has the greatest number of multicultural policies, appear more integrated than their U.S. counterparts. These results challenge claims that diversity policy impedes immigrant integration.

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Presented in Session 196: Ethnoracial Diversity and Change