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Guest Lecture: Prof Jacques Poot - The Economics of Cultural Diversity: Recent Findings

Page updated Jun 08, 2016

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Presentation material for Jacques Poot's lecture presented at the Treasury on 1 June 2016.

Abstract

Fuelled by the global growth in cross-border migration and mobility, many city populations are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of culture, ethnicity, religion, language, migrant status, etc. The sociologist Steven Vertovec introduced in 2005 the term 'superdiversity' to describe this new urban reality. Roughly at the same time, economists started to quantify economic impacts of (super) diversity – inspired by work by Jacobs, Glaeser, Alesina, Putnam, Page, Ottaviano and others. Various projects have been looking at effects of cultural diversity on innovation, productivity, trade, housing, life satisfaction, etc. at different spatial scales. New Zealand economists have also been contributing to this literature. In this lecture I start with noting that measuring diversity is not a trivial matter and that research design will affect results. I will then review a range of representative findings and conclude that the evidence shows that diversity spillovers are indeed on balance positive. However, there has been sometimes too much enthusiasm in interpreting correlations as revealing causal mechanisms. In any case, benefits of cultural diversity are enhanced by effective institutional responses that mitigate potentially negative impacts on social capital, residential choices and political representation.

Professor Jacques Poot

Jacques Poot is Professor of Population Economics at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA), University of Waikato, and a globally-known researcher of the economics of international migration. He has a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington, where he was employed between 1979 and 2003. He is an elected fellow of several professional organisations, including the Regional Science Association International and Academia Europaea. Jacques has conducted a range of projects in New Zealand and in Europe on immigrant integration and on the socio-economic consequences of migration at national and regional levels. He is currently leading a large 2014-2020 MBIE-funded project – run by a team from Massey University, Waikato University and Motu – called 'Capturing the Diversity Dividend of Aotearoa New Zealand' (CaDDANZ). In 2013, Jacques Poot was the recipient of the NZIER Economics Award which recognises economic research that has been influential for public policy.

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