Eugene Fedorenko is Writing, Reading, and Traveling

Denmark wants to break up ethnic enclaves. What is wrong with them?

An interesting look at immigration and the role of ethnic enclaves. Seems like there is no one right way and different groups of immigrants benefit from different environments.

Such a bold policy suggests that the evidence for ghettos being bad is overwhelming. In fact, it is mixed. In the 1920s, at the end of a wave of immigration to America, sociologists at the University of Chicago argued that ethnic enclaves facilitated assimilation. Immigrants first settled in big cities, drawing on the knowledge and contacts of their former compatriots. Over generations, they adapted culturally and climbed the economic ladder, mixing with the native population.
Later, economists weighed in. In a paper in 1997, “Are Ghettos Good or Bad?”, David Cutler and Edward Glaeser, both at Harvard, noted that theoretical arguments could point either way. On the one hand, ethnic enclaves limit their residents’ exposure to economic opportunities and cultural knowledge outside their own ethnicities. On the other, they give new immigrants access to information and connections acquired by earlier arrivals, and may provide them with role models.