Neighbourhood ethnic diversity and support for Universal Health Care in the UK

Presenter: Anja Neundorf, University of Nottingham

Author: Anja Neundorf

Co-author(s): Charlotte Cavaille

Growing ethnic diversity in Europe has raised concerns about its impact on mass support for redistributive social policies. A majority of the existing evidence points to a negative correlation between the share of non-majority groups at the country or district-level and support for redistribution. This paper further contributes to this debate by focusing on the relationship between neighbourhood diversity and willingness to fund universal healthcare. We use multi-wave panel data from the British Household Panel Survey to answer the following question: ‘are individuals living in a neighbourhood that is highly diverse and/or increasingly so, more likely to decrease their support for the National Health Service?’ The design provided in this paper is an improvement on the existing literature in two major ways. First, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is the ideal policy for understanding the impact of ethnic diversity through neighbourhood-level interactions. The NHS is a universal public service that assigns individuals to a local GP practice based on geographical proximity. This design makes users more likely to directly experience neighbourhood diversity in terms of its impact on the public provision of healthcare. Secondly, and most importantly, we rely on panel data and fixed-effects models, which allow for a direct test of social identity theory, which is underlying this research. Our results confirm that attitudes change alongside changes in neighbourhood diversity. Individuals living in diverse neighbourhoods become increasingly less willing to support universal healthcare.