Individual Activity Patterns and the Meaning of Residential Environments for Inter-Ethnic Contact

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Abstract

Past research has indicated that the ethnic composition of residential neighbourhoods influences inter-ethnic contact. However, little attention has been paid to individual activity and travel patterns which encompass encounters with others at physical and virtual activity sites, such as sports clubs and online chat rooms. By analysing a Dutch dataset on the life of urban ethnic minorities, we found that individual activity patterns are important factors in explaining inter-ethnic contact. Activities such as sports, attending parties or religious gatherings, using Internet, and hosting friends and neighbours influence the extent of inter-ethnic contact. The effect of ethnic composition of neighbourhoods and educational qualification on relative frequency of contact with native Dutch is strongly reduced when individual activity and travel patterns are taken into account. For receiving practical help from native Dutch, neighbourhood effects were insignificant.

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