Stir Well the Melting Pot: Persistence of Inter-ethnic Cultural Divide in Estonia

Piret Ehin (Tartu University )
Greg Nizhnikau (Finnish Institute of International Affairs )
Leonid Polishchuk (Higher School of Economics and Uppsala University )
Alexander Rubin (Higher School of Economics )

Abstract: We explore drivers and impediments to inter-ethnic cultural convergence in Estonia, where nearly 30% of population are native Russian speakers, mostly ethnic Russians. We present evidence drawn from six consecutive rounds of the European Social Survey covering the period from 2004 through 2014. We demonstrate that ethnicity persists as a significant factor of values and attitudes, especially with regard to the perception of the Estonian, society, placement on the autonomy to paternalism scale, and attitudes to state and political institutions, and that the passage of time dose not weaken the salience of ethnicity as a factor of culture. Treating Soviet-time settlement of ethnic Russians in Estonia as a "natural experiment", we show that day-to-day contact of ethnic Russians with ethnic Estonians has a consistently strong impact on the ethnic gap, noticeably reducing the full marginal effect of ethnicity on values and attitudes.

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