May 28, 2017

Once each month I receive a summary of charges for prescription medications from our healthcare provider.  How much the plan pays, how much we pay, where I am relative to co-pays, etc. I always read the document but this month I noticed information printed in several languages indicating phone numbers for those individuals who do not speak English.  That list is given below.  As you can see, my provider has their bases covered. This points to the fact that our country is definitely a “melting pot” for differing ethnicities, religions, and cultures in general.  English only is a thing of the past. There are plenty of households in which English is not the primary or native language.  I certainly feel people try to assimilate but, as we all know, English is a very difficult to learn if it is not your first language.  This fact got me to thinking, just how diverse are we?  With that being the case, let’s take a look.

The figure above is the fourth sheet from my medical provider.  As I mentioned, they seem to have all of the bases covered which is exactly what I would do if I were them.

The bar chart below was a definite surprise to me.  According to the 2000 census, close to forty-three percent (43%) of the American population comes from German ancestry.   You can read the chart below to see how the various cultural backgrounds contribute to the overall “melting pot” of the United States.  Of course, this varies from one part of our country to another.  In the Southeast, the predominant lineage is from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Africa.

If we look at cultural diversity by state, we may see the following:

Population demographics from the most recent census present the following:

Social scientists have only recently begun to evaluate multiculturalism as public policy. Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka of Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, have constructed a multiculturalism policy index (MCP Index) that measures the extent to which eight types of policies appear in twenty-one (21) Western nations. The index accounts for the presence or absence of multicultural policies across these countries at three distinct points — 1980, 2000, and 2010 — thus capturing policy changes over time.  This information is captured below.

The countries were each evaluated for an official affirmation of multiculturalism; multiculturalism in the school curriculum; inclusion of ethnic representation/sensitivity in public media and licensing; exemptions from dress codes in public laws; acceptance of dual citizenship; funding of ethnic organizations to support cultural activities; funding of bilingual and mother-tongue instruction; and affirmative action for immigrant groups.

According to PEW Research, the most and least multi-cultural countries are as follows:

This multicultural map of the world is based on an analysis of data reported in a new study of cultural diversity and economic development by researcher Erkan Gören of the University of Oldenberg in Germany. In his paper, Goren measured the amount of cultural diversity in each of more than 180 countries. To arrive at his estimates, he combined data on ethnicity and race with a measure based on the similarity of languages spoken by major ethnic or racial groups. “The hypothesis is that groups speaking the same or highly related languages should also have similar cultural values,” said Goren in an email.

Together he used his language and ethnicity measures to compute a cultural diversity score for each country that ranged from 0 to 1, with larger scores indicating more diversity and smaller values representing less. The usual suspects lead the list of culturally diverse countries: Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These and other African countries typically rank high on any diversity index because of their multitude of tribal groups and languages. The only western country to break into the top 20 most diverse is Canada. The United States ranks near the middle, slightly more diverse than Russia but slightly less diverse than Spain.

Argentina, the Comoros, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Rwanda and Uruguay rank as the world’s least diverse countries. Argentina may be a surprise, what with all those Germans and Italians pouring into the country after one world war or the other. But Spanish is nearly universally spoken in Argentina, 97% of the country is white and more than nine-in-ten Argentines are at least nominally Roman Catholic, according to the CIA’s World Factbook. The presence of Rwanda at the bottom of the list likely is, in part, a grim reminder of the mass slaughter of Tutsi by the dominant Hutu majority in 1994 in what came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide.

A caution: Cultural diversity is a different concept than ethnic diversity. As a result, a map of the world reflecting ethnic diversity looks somewhat different than the one based on Goren’s cultural diversity measure that combines language and ethnicity profiles of a country.  The Harvard and Goren maps show that the most diverse countries in the world are found in Africa.  The United States falls near the middle, while Canada and Mexico are more diverse than the US.

I have had the great fortune to travel to several non-English-speaking countries over my life time and I can tell you most do NOT consider other languages visitors or nonresidents speak.  Generally, and it may have changed over the last five or six years, if you cannot speak the native language you just might be in trouble.



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