Why strangers can expect more help from people in mixed neighbourhoods

New Town Primary School pupils celebrating Racial Harmony Day. The writer's research suggests that everything else being equal, the racial integration within Singapore likely made Singaporeans more prosocial and helpful.
New Town Primary School pupils celebrating Racial Harmony Day. The writer's research suggests that everything else being equal, the racial integration within Singapore likely made Singaporeans more prosocial and helpful. ST FILE PHOTO
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When people from diverse racial groups live together in the same neighbourhood, each individual might be constantly reminded of their own group membership, and of the differences between their own group and other groups living around them.

Many prominent social scientists, such as Professor Robert Putnam at Harvard University, have claimed that people in more diverse neighbourhoods are less likely to trust one another, and that this lack of trust can have massive negative effects on neighbourhood cohesion and sense of community.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2018, with the headline Why strangers can expect more help from people in mixed neighbourhoods. Subscribe