Ethnic inequality, cultural distance, and social integration: evidence from a native-settler conflict in the Philippines
A key debate in studies of native-migrant relations relates to the barriers to integration created by ethno-cultural differences and socio-economic disadvantage. How do changes in socio-economic inequality between ethnic groups affect interethnic ties in a divided society?
I investigate this question by analysing the effect of ethnic inequality on the evolution of cross-ethnic marriages in a society fractured by conflict between natives and settlers. I find the effect is contingent on the ethnic group. Certain groups intermarry more in response to reductions in socio-economic disadvantage; others, however, remain indifferent.
I suggest the difference relates to cultural distance. Specifically, I point to differences between groups in the power of the norms and sanctions regulating members’ social interactions outside of the group. These ‘closure’ norms interpose an ethno-cultural distance.
I establish these findings with field interviews and census data on over six million marriages in Mindanao, an ethnically diverse region in the southern Philippines and location of an insurgency waged by rebels, drawn from the native Muslim Moro population, resentful of the influx of Christian settlers. I find Moro intermarriage unresponsive to socio-economic equalisation and suggest the strength of their ethno-cultural norms, derived from their ethno-religious identification, accounts for their distinctive response.