In the context of ongoing debate about the positive and negative consequences of ethnic diversity for intergroup relations, we study inter-ethnic relations among adolescents in England’s schools. In the first national study of schools throughout England to relate inter-ethnic attitudes to both school and area ethnic composition, we combine survey data collected from 14-year-olds in nearly 100 schools with administrative data. We focus on relations between three ethno-racial categories: White-British, Asian-British and Black-British, for three conceptually distinct indicators of inter-ethnic orientations: warmth, friends, and attitudes. We posit that ‘contact’, proxied by school outgroup composition, should lead to more positive intergroup orientations, while ‘exposure’, proxied by neighbourhood outgroup composition, should lead to more negative intergroup relations. We show that higher school outgroup shares are associated with more positive orientations towards that group for almost all relationships and measures. We further show that for the two instances where higher school outgroup shares do not enhance positive intergroup orientations, they nevertheless moderate negative effects of neighbourhood composition. We conclude that schools offer the opportunity to enhance intergroup relations and to mitigate the threats associated with increased neighbourhood diversity with potentially enduring consequences.
- Inter-ethnic contact