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External colloquium Dingeman Wiertz (Nuffield College, University of Oxford, England)

Wanneer:do 26-04-2018 15:30 - 16:45
Waar:B.128 Grote Rozenstraat 31

Durable Civic Disparities across the US: Civic Deserts, Hotspots, and Their Destinies

There is stark variation across local areas in their civic traditions (e.g., prevalence of volunteering, rate of political participation, density of non-profit organizations) and these disparities are remarkably durable. This has been shown for different places, in different periods, and at different spatial levels. However, why such civic disparities are so persistent is not well understood. To explain this phenomenon, we develop a parsimonious theory, which we apply to variation in the prevalence of volunteering across the US. Key elements of our theory are positive feedback effects driven by volunteer recruitment through social networks, and structural constraints that determine the growth potential of areas. Depending on their exact interplay, these two forces together can explain civic convergence, civic divergence, or durable civic disparities across local areas. We empirically assess the micro-level foundations and macro-level implications of our theory using data on volunteering from the Current Population Survey, covering the period 2002-2015. Our analyses reveal that people are more likely to start and less likely to quit volunteering in metropolitan areas where the volunteering rate is already high. Nevertheless, we observe that civic disparities across metropolitan areas have diminished over the period studied. We further explore the longer-run implications of our theory as well as the sensitivity of these longer-run projections using simulation analyses.

Dingeman Wiertz is a Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. His research interests include civic engagement, ethnic integration and segregation, and the wider societal implications of adverse labour market experiences. Some of his recent research has been published in the American Sociological Review, and together with Nan Dirk de Graaf and Noah Carl he is currently working on a multidisciplinary social science textbook with the title “Societal Problems as Public Bads”. Today’s presentation is based on collaborative work with Chaeyoon Lim from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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