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Racism and bigotry in the West
T C A Srinivasa Raghavan | February 16, 2007
The point that emerges, I think, is this -- while the British people are not generally racist, they also don't know that their government is.
It was in that context that a recent paper* by Vani K Borooah of the University of Ulster and John Mangan of the University of Queensland is worth reading. They presented it at a seminar recently at NCAER. The authors don't focus just on racism but bigotry as a whole, and they "propose measures for the amount of bigotry in a country". The paper is rich in both theory and empirics. Indian economists should certainly read it to see what they should be doing and how.
Borooah and Mangan have used the methods of poverty measurement and have suggested similar measures for prejudice in a country. The question they asked was, "Would you like to have a person from this group as your neighbour?"
If a respondent says no, it is taken to mean that he or she is prejudiced against members of this group. They used data from five groups: immigrants or foreign workers, Muslims, Jews and homosexuals.
They have then gone on to construct measures for the amount of bigotry. They have also ranked Western countries. They then analyse why this happens from a socio-economic angle, as well as whether "they are strongly bigoted, mildly bigoted, or bigotry-free". Finally, they try to identify the group -- Muslims, immigrants, and homosexuals -- against which the prejudice is maximum.
Some of their findings are as follows:
There are several other conclusions. Having gone through them with great care, the following questions come to mind: do people become less bigoted if their governments take on the burden of bigotry? Alternatively, how can governments become more bigoted if their people aren't? What explains the divergence between the attitude of the British people and its government? Which is the cause and which the effect?
A survey, anyone?
*Love Thy Neighbour: How Much Bigotry Is There In Western Countries? December 2006.