Intergroup contact and its effects on discriminatory attitudes
Evidence from India
The contact hypothesis posits that having diverse neighbours may reduce one’s intergroup prejudice. This hypothesis is difficult to test as individuals self-select into neighbourhoods. Using a slum relocation programme in India that randomly assigned neighbours, I examine the effects of exposure to other-caste neighbours on trust and attitudes towards members of other castes.
Combining administrative data on housing assignment with original survey data on attitudes, I find evidence corroborating the contact hypothesis. Exposure to more neighbours of other castes increases inter-caste trust, support for inter-caste marriage, and the belief that caste injustice is growing. I explore the role of friendships in facilitating these favourable attitudes.
The findings shed light on the positive effects of exposure to diverse social groups through close proximity in neighbourhoods.