White Ethnic Diversity and Community Attachment in Small Iowa Towns

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Abstract

Objectives. This study examines the relationship between white ethnic diversity and community attachment in 99 small Iowa towns. Methods. Our data come from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Rural Development Initiative (RDI) at Iowa State University. The RDI data, which consist of interviews with approximately 110 people in each of the 99 towns, are used to develop a community attachment score for each town. These scores serve as the dependent variable in ordinary least squares regression models to assess the extent to which ethnic diversity is related to attachment. Results. The findings show that towns with high levels of white ethnic diversity tend to have low levels of community attachment. Moreover, residents of diverse towns tend to view their communities with more suspicion and tend to be less involved in community activities than citizens in more homogeneous towns. Conclusions. Looked at narrowly, these results indicate that white ethnic diversity may be detrimental to community building in small Iowa towns. More broadly, the findings provide support for the idea that white ethnic diversity is alive and well in America.

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