HKS Authors

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This paper studies what determines group formation and the degree of participation when the population is heterogeneous, both in terms of income and race or ethnicity. We are especially interested in whether and how much the degree of heterogeneity in communities influences the amount of participation in different types of groups. Using survey data on group membership and data on U. S. localities, we find that, after controlling for many individual characteristics, participation in social activities is significantly lower in more unequal and in more racially or ethnically fragmented localities. We also find that those individuals who express views against racial mixing are less prone to participate in groups the more racially heterogeneous their community is. These results are consistent with our model of group formation.


Alesina, Alberto, and Eliana La Ferrara. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 115.3 (August 2000): 847-904.