Formation and Persistence of Oppositional Identities

Reprint No. 2011:34

Author(s): Alberto Bisin, Eleonora Patacchini, Thierry Verdier and Yves Zenou Year: 2011 Title: European Economic Review Volume (No.): 55 (8) Pages: 1046–1071
Online article (restrictions may apply)

We develop a dynamic model of identity formation that explains why ethnic minorities may choose to adopt oppositional identities (i.e. some individuals may reject or not the dominant culture) and why this behavior may persist over time. We first show that the prevalence of an oppositional culture in the minority group cannot always be sustained in equilibrium. Indeed, because the size of the majority group is larger, there is an "imposed" process of exposition to role models from the majority group that favors the diffusion of mainstream values in the minority community. In spite of this, an oppositional culture in the minority group can nevertheless be sustained in steady state if there is enough cultural segmentation in terms of rolemodels, or if the size of the minority group is large enough, or if the degree of oppositional identity it implies is high enough. We also demonstrate that the higher the level of harassment and the number of racist individuals in the society, the more likely an oppositional minority culture will emerge. We finally show that ethnic identity and socialization effort can be more intense in mixed rather than segregated neighborhoods.

Bisin, Alberto, Eleonora Patacchini, Thierry Verdier and Yves Zenou (2011), "Formation and Persistence of Oppositional Identities". European Economic Review 55(8), 1046–1071.

Sick of Inequality?

An Introduction to the Relationship between Inequality and Health

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In this book Andreas Bergh, Therese Nilsson, IFN and Lund University, and Daniel Waldenström, IFN and Paris School of Economics, France, review the latest research on the relationship between inequality and health. What does inequality mean for our health? Does increasing income inequality affect outcomes such as obesity, life expectancy and subjective well-being?


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