Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Richard Alba

Committee Members

Mary-Clare Lennon

Elena Vesselinov

Christopher Bonastia

Subject Categories

Civic and Community Engagement | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Spatial Science


attitudes, bridging, ethnoracial diversity, contact, threat, immigration


Much attention has been devoted to the presumed negative effect of diversity growth on various dimensions of attitudes and interaction between different racial and ethnic groups. However, whether the claims hold true is unclear- there is a considerable controversy over the impact of changing diversity on societal behavior. With ongoing migration, the United States are becoming more and more ethnically diverse but a sound debate on racial and ethnic composition and its consequences for inter-group interactions and attitudes towards others has not yet been possible due to a lack of causally-oriented panel studies.

In this study, two important features are tested: on the one hand, friendships to racial or ethnic out-group members (Chapter IV), and on the other, attitudes towards these people (Chapter V). To my knowledge, this study deploys one of the first U.S. panel designs measuring diversity effect using two waves of panel data from the Portraits of American Life Survey (2006-2012). Using different measures of inter-group socializing and attitudes towards out-group members, this study explores whether changes in community diversity lead to changes in out-group attitudes and contact across racial lines.

This study distinguishes whether the contextual effects take place on the tract or city level, and whether individuals experiencing increases in diversity initially lived in low, medium or high heterogeneity. Furthermore, separate results are presented for non-Hispanic white and nonwhite respondents. The analysis on attitudes differentiates whether the treatment (the change rate in diversity) is due to changes in neighborhood composition for stayers and or to neighborhood changes for movers.