Beyond Diversity: The Role of State Capacity in Fostering Social Cohesion in Brazil

Alexander Kustov, Giuliana Pardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A long-standing scholarship argues that greater ethnic diversity harms social cohesion. However, recent research also suggests that these outcomes are primarily influenced by the strength of state institutions. We evaluate these arguments using new geocoded historical data from Brazilian municipalities. Our initial analysis confirms that local racial diversity is negatively associated with social cohesion indicators such as trust, civic participation, belonging, turnout, and crime. Nonetheless, further analysis indicates that this relationship cannot be directly attributed to the effects of diversity, but rather hinges on the concentration of historically (dis)advantaged racial groups within particular areas. Finally, we demonstrate that both the spatial distribution of these groups and current levels of social cohesion are linked to past state capacity across municipalities. These results suggest that local social cohesion is more strongly associated with the historical development of state institutions across the national territory than with their contemporary levels of racial diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106625
JournalWorld Development
StatePublished - Aug 2024


  • Diversity
  • Racial demography
  • Social cohesion
  • State capacity
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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