We’ve reported previously on Putnam’s diversity research on the impact of diversity on social capital (social ties between group and within groups).
John Leo’s article in the City Journal is completely inaccurate on one important point, that political correctness kept us from releasing these results and the data. We never held back on releasing our findings.
In fact, within weeks of getting the original survey results in early 2001 (six years ago) we issued a national press release describing our preliminary findings in detail. That press release was covered at the time in many publications, including the LA Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and so on, often quoting me specifically about the diversity-distrust connection. The SF Chronicle of March 1, 2001, for example, quoted Putnam as follows: “Places that are ethnically diverse and that have large numbers of recent immigrants are places that have greater challenges in building connections because people feel more isolated there,” Putnam said. “And that’s not just along racial lines, [but] generalized social isolation.”
And a few months later in 2001 (just as soon as the data had been cleaned) we made the full, raw data-set publicly available to anyone through the Roper Center data archive. Over the last six years, those data have become one of the most widely-used data-sets in the social sciences, downloaded and analyzed by hundreds of other researchers.
Finally, contrary to Leo’s claim, we have not “published only an initial summary” of our findings, but an elaborate 38-page journal article, packed with charts, statistics and methodological details, and as we have said, the raw original data have been publicly available for six years, an invitation to early scrutiny that is almost unprecedented in social science. In short, our story is the exact opposite of suppressing results which is why Leo’s story is so galling, regardless of whether Leo likes the findings or not.