One of the most studied hypotheses in political economy and development literature posits that social heterogeneity is negatively associated with favorable societal and political outcomes. This study problematizes the diversity debit hypothesis. It overviews its theoretical underpinning and uncovers its roots to be in rational choice theory and the homo economicus framework of human behavior. As such, scholarly accounts of diversity debit have attributed it to the agency (or lack thereof) of minority groups and their impaired ability to engage in collective mobilization to pressure elites for concessions. Through case studies of three countries – the United States, Turkey, and Vietnam, this study discovers that even when collective action problems have been overcome by minority groups either along ethnic or cross-ethnic boundaries, it has not led to favorable outcomes. In light of rapid changes to the global economic balance of power and the emergence of alternative modes of development policies, further investigation of the diversity debit problem is necessary to carry out through critically-oriented approaches.

AAU Senior Lecturer, Alexei Anisin, Ph.D.