Intercultural cities provide benefits for all
A new study from Europe shows that cities with strong intercultural or multicultural integration have higher rates of well-being and quality of life.
The year-long study, produced by the Council of Europe, is based on the Intercultural Cities Index, which seeks to measure the effect of Europe’s Intercultural City Strategy – an initiative to promote positive changes in education, culture, arts sport and local political participation.
It shows a strong statistical link between local intercultural policies and local well-being.
“Cities with stronger intercultural policies are more likely to have populations who believe that foreigners are good for their city and local services are trustworthy and efficient,” the study says.
“The strong and positive correlation demonstrates that inclusive policies do not antagonise public opinion towards migrant or alienate voters,” it says.
“In addition, residents in cities with strong intercultural and inclusive migrant integration policies have a higher level of satisfaction with public services and the local administration, find it easier to find jobs, and feel safer,” the study says.
Controlling for the major demographic explanatory factors, cities with stronger intercultural policies are more likely to have populations that see foreigners’ presence as good for the city, the study’s authors found.
A city’s intercultural policies are the strongest determining factor of public opinion on immigrants, even more important than a person’s age, gender, employment/financial situation or the city’s share of foreigners, the study said.
It said that local not national policies were the key factor of successful integration.
Researchers Anne-Linde Joki and Alexander Wolffhardt surveyed more than 80 cities and towns across 28 countries assessing the extent to which local authorities promote inter-culturalism.
“Based on the notion of ‘diversity advantage’, these strategies are founded on the assumption that diversity can be an asset for communities if managed in a positive and competent way; they mobilise leaders, policy officials, professionals, businesses and civil society towards re-shaping city policies and services to make them more effective and engage citizens in building an understanding of the societies’ diversity as a competitive advantage for all,” the researchers said.
Since 2008, the Council of Europe, through its flagship programme Intercultural Cities, has supported more than 120 local authorities in Europe and around the world, in designing and implementing inclusive policies and strategies for migrant and refugee integration according to the intercultural approach.
Among the cities surveyed in the study were: Barcelona, Bucharest, Dublin, Geneva, Hamburg, London Lewisham, Lisbon, Paris, Reykjavik, Rotterdam, Turin, Valletta, Zurich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Bologna, Bordeaux, Cluj, Leipzig, Madrid, Manchester, Marseille, Naples and Rostock.
AMES Australia Senior Journalist