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A Proposed Field Experiment in Ideological Mixing

Thursday, November 17, 2016 9:23
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Skimming this NY Times graphics, I had the following thought.  A new group of “Move To Opportunity” scholars should approach recent graduates of UC Berkeley and other progressive schools and randomly assign large numbers of them to live in Red States and neighborhoods (areas where Trump carried the vote).   There would also be a randomly assigned control group who would live in progressive areas.  As time passes, I would be interested in the following outcome measures;

A.  Do the progressives who live in Conservative areas make local friends?
B.  Do the new neighbors talk about their differences?
C.  Do the progressives “convert” their Conservative neighbors or vice-versa?  Or do they “agree to disagree”?

While I’m half kidding here, there is an interesting spatial externality.  As the nation Tiebout sorts along ideological dimensions are there too few cross-group social interactions?  While the left and right scream at each other and talk past each other, do they ever speak to each other from a position of mutual respect?  Do the youngsters from UC Berkeley and UCLA have any first hand knowledge of what life is like in the rest of the nation? Who is “out of touch”?  How do we use the field experiment design to see if there are relatively low cost nudges towards building up a nation with common experiences rather than a quilt of heterogeneous interests who have little in common except for a border and a common military and language?

In the name of symmetry, a second field experiment could send people from West Virginia to go live in Berkeley. How would they be received in their host community?  Would tolerance prevail?


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