Does Cultural Diversity Promote Economic Growth?

Diversity has sometimes been considered as an abstract principle, divorced from macro-economic trends and global realities. Research by Quamrul Ashraf and Oded Galor of Brown University, suggests otherwise. In a paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2011, Ashraf and Galor crystallize their findings on the interplay between cultural assimilation and cultural diffusion in relation to economic development. They theorize that pre-industrial societies in agricultural stages of development may have benefitted from geographical isolation, but the lack of cultural diversity had a negative impact on the adaption to a new technological paradigm and income per capita in the course of industrialization. This “Great Divergence” in the developmental paths of nations has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.

Ashraf and Galor indicate that cultural assimilation enhances the accumulation of society-specific human capital, reducing diversity through standardization of sociocultural traits. Cultural diffusion, by contrast, promotes greater cultural fluidity and flexibility that expands knowledge allowing greater adaption to new technological paradigms.

One of the prominent questions long debated by scholars is why China failed to industrialize at the time of the Industrial Revolution and suffered from “economic retardation,” a question raised by Joseph Chai in Chapter VI of his new book An Economic History of Modern China. In their paper, Ashraf and Galor outline the early benefits of China’s geographical isolation as the “Middle Kingdom” or the center of civilization as evidence of the benefits of cultural assimilation in the agricultural stage of development. They also refer to the state-imposed isolation throughout the Ming (1368-1644) and Ching eras (1644-1911) that caused China to remain impervious to external influences. Although Ashraf and Galor do not expand upon the further ramifications of their theory in this example, the absence of cultural diffusion was clearly a major factor in China’s late development in the sciences and technology.

What does all this mean for diversity practitioners in the United States today? Clearly, the important benefits of cultural diversity need to be understood in broader, global, and historic terms. As Alvin Evans and I argue in Bridging the Diversity Divide: Globalization and Reciprocal Empowerment in in Higher Education, globalization is a catalyst for diversity change, representing an urgent mandate that can no longer be ignored. With the erosion of barriers of time and place, rapid evolution of technological modes of communication, increasing diversity of the American population, rising demands from diverse consumers, and importance of talent as a differentiator in organizational performance, organizations now must focus upon creation of inclusive talent management practices. In our forthcoming book, The New Talent Frontier: Integrating HR and Diversity Strategy (Stylus, 2013), we examine this global imperative and the emergence of common themes in diversity transformation across all sectors including private corporations, not-for-profits, and institutions of higher education.

As Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, puts it in his blog that discusses Ashraf and Galor’s contributions:

It’s time for diversity’s skeptics and naysayers to get over their hang-ups. The evidence is mounting that geographical openness and cultural diversity and tolerance are not by-products but key drivers of economic progress. . . . Indeed, one might even go so far as to suggest that they provide the motive force of intellectual, technological, and artistic evolution.


  1. timeforfreedom

    But here is one of the biggest problems that we anti-racists have ever faced. In fact, we have never really faced any opposition from our White enemies before…until now. Their side has come to a great deal of realization about what exactly we want to achieve racially in respect to White people in general. Let’s be truthful here as we are in our own private realm in this blog. Clearly we want White people to at least be racially assimilated out of existence. Every one of our anti-racist fellows understands this at a fundamental level. Until now, we have been able to pursue this agenda relatively free of organized and principled opposition from the pro-White activists…until now. However, Their side has come to a crucial understanding of the actual racial agenda of our anti-racist–or Diversity/Multiculturalist–movement, and, that vital understanding on their part has induced a sea change in the specific rhetorical and argumentation techniques that they now deploy against at every level intereaction, whether it be at a street level or higher. As an example of this new-found intellectual brazeness on their part, they will offer up rhetorical questions or comments like the following:

    “Nobody says that Asia needs more diversity
    Nobody says that Africa needs more diversity
    Asia and Africa are already 100% diverse!
    Anti-racists only tell white children? in white countries that they need more diversity
    Canada…America….Britain….Sweden…Latvia will only be 100% diverse
    When there are NO WHITE CHILDREN LEFT!
    Diversity is a code-word for genocide!
    Anti-racism is a code-word for anti-white!”

    My God look at this thing…It’s chocked full of comprehension and I might add a frightening dose of accusation of genocide. The point is, my fellow anti-racists, is that we have to begin dealing with this kind of argumenation and offer up convincing repliers to neutralize the devastating points and accusations contained within these kinds of pro-white mantras, of which they seem to have MANY. We NEED to do this because we are being devastated in debate after debate. Once white people comprehend the fact that the whole anti-racist paradigm is oriented toward white genocide-by-assimilation, we will have lost our own rhetorical power. As an exercise, try imagining yourself in a neighborhood openly advocating for the genocide of its inhabitants.It doesn’t conjure a particularly nice picture for us now does it. It really does make us look like weird genocidal freaks, and I might add subject to very serious legal sanctions by international law. We need a new strategy here to deal with these white dissidents if we are to effectively ward off their challenges and achieve the disappearance of the white race.
    I have finally come across a Youtube video that actually adresses these white dissident types in a manner which actually gives us ammunition on how to fight and defeat them in debates.

    The focus of this main article is on how diversity supposedly helps economic growth and innovation. The problem is that these treatises don’t even begin to touch the real issues that we anti-racists now have to contend with when debating with these mantra dissidents, as I like to call them. Deploying the strategy outlined in this Youtube video will go a long way to helping us defeat these racist trolls.

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