Interethnic contact is important for social cohesion and has been shown to vary with people’s socio-economic status (SES). There is some evidence that SES has opposite effects on interethnic contact for non-Western ethnic minorities and for majority members in Western countries. Whereas minority members with a higher SES tend to have more contact with natives, natives with a higher SES tend to have less inter-ethnic contact. To replicate and further understand these contrasting findings, we focused on interethnic friendships in particular and tested simultaneously for majority and minority members whether preferences for cultural similarity, opportunities to meet ethnic others, and disapproval of third parties, mediate the relationship between SES and having interethnic friendships. Analyses of 368 natives and 267 non-Western ethnic minority members in the Netherlands confirmed the contrasting effects of SES on interethnic friendships for these two groups. Importantly, we found that for minority members higher SES was related to more friendships with natives through more meeting opportunities. For natives, higher SES was related to fewer friendships with ethnic minorities, however, this relationship could not be explained by lower meeting opportunities. Preferences for cultural similarity and third-party disapproval did not explain the link between SES and interethnic friendships for any of the two groups.

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International Journal of Intercultural Relations
Department of Public Administration and Sociology (DPAS)

Damen, R., Martinović, B., & Stark, T.H. (2021). Explaining the relationship between socio-economic status and interethnic friendships: The mediating role of preferences, opportunities, and third parties. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 80, 40–50. doi:10.1016/j.ijintrel.2020.11.005