L.A. Diversity May Decrease Trust, But Optimism Reigns

Where’s the most ethnically diverse place in the world? New York maybe? London? Nope. It’s Los Angeles. The Financial Times reported on acclaimed political scientist Robert "Bowling Alone" Putnam’s new report on the corrosive effects of diversity on communities:

Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, “the most diverse human habitation in human history”, but his findings also held for rural South Dakota, where “diversity means inviting Swedes to a Norwegians’ picnic”.

Trust among neighbors may be low in L.A., but optimism still seems to be at a California high, according to this amusing NYT piece:

”What I hate about L.A. is that you have to seem young, happy and successful at all times,” said a Showtime producer I know who dared not speak for attribution for fear of alienating colleagues. ”In New York you can whine and complain, and everybody lets it roll off because they accept ups and downs. In L.A. if you’re negative, you get treated as if you have some kind of emotional cancer and people are scared to be near you.”

Today’s NYT travel section also notes L.A.’s diversity — and one of its many pluses:

There are probably more Chinese in Los Angeles than in any metropolitan area outside of China. The same very likely could be said of Mexicans, Iranians, Koreans, Japanese and more, which is what makes Los Angeles the best international eating city in the world.

To wrap up our L.A. report, the Los Angeles Times today puts its stamp of approval on Claremont, CA, where I’ll be living for a few years starting in the fall:

You’re as likely to hear young lovers discussing epistemic theories of truth as you are to see them smooching.

It’s referring, of course, to the Claremont Consortium, or what the Fiske guide once called "The most extraordinary assemblage of educational excellence in the nation." 

4 comments on “L.A. Diversity May Decrease Trust, But Optimism Reigns
  • Yes, LA is very diverse. And yeah, there’s great food (I have discovered a korean bbq that rival’s my favroite Han’s hibachi in San Francisco). But, the sheer overwhelming and unpractical size of Los Angeles is a barrier to getting to know any significant part of it intimately. This intimate knowledge is what leads to an index of the cutty little restaurants where you will be treated to a delicious meal for cheap. So, the not-quite-as-diverse San Francisco, with it’s neighborhoods all smashed together is still my preference. And if anyone is interested in my opinions of the best food in SF (for under ten dollars, most of the time) ask.

  • Ben,

    You’ll have a great time at CMC. I graduated in 1984 and have good memories. It is a stellar place that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The access to top-notch professors is really outstanding – among other things, do a a few research assistant gigs if you can.

    Later in life, you’ll be amazed when you look back on who you worked with while you were there.


    Don Jones

  • What an awesome place to launch a buisness, sounds very exciting. Alot more than Corvallis, Oregon with 50,000 people where I’m living now. Although I’m grateful for what I have, it would be incredible to move down there.

    One of my goals is to move to silicion valley, where my grandparents are already located. But LA is interesting to look at too.

    Hows the pollution, I hear u can smell the fog there?

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