The effect of municipalities on the ethnic distancing phenomenon

The effect of municipalities on the ethnic distancing phenomenon

In the past ten years, a large number of researches and reference reports have been made in Montenegro, which have dealt with the problems of ethnic relations and ethnic distance. Each of these researches broadened the horizons and information when it comes to dimensions and factors influencing ethnic distancing. CEDEM has been conducting traditional research on ethnic distance since 2007, and the data were excellent and accurate indicators of ethnic relations in Montenegro, an environment that is essentially multiethnic in all respects. One of the characteristics of Montenegro, although not a large country in all quantitative characteristics, is the specificity of local environments. Each municipality in Montenegro is, in some way, specific in its cultural, social, ethnic and even political characteristics. When conducting research on measuring ethnic distance and ethnic relations in general, representative samples that are mostly designed are the ones that that should show measurement at the level of the whole of Montenegro.

These surveys include not so large number of respondents by individual municipalities (with the exception of Podgorica), and the overview by municipalities in this regard is certainly insufficient. On the other hand, in this research, and this is crucial, factors that are of a municipal rather than individual character are calculated. For example, we know from research that the more individually educated people are, the less ethnically they distance themselves, but we do not know whether the average level of education in a municipality affects individual ethnic distance, and if so, to what extent. We also know that individuals with higher incomes distance themselves less, but we do not know whether the average income in the municipality influences individuals living in different environments to distance themselves more or less. These were the key reasons that motivated this research. First, CEDEM has a longitudinal database on the ethnic distancing of individuals in almost all Montenegrin municipalities, with a total of 4,163 respondents. This means that we are able to largely measure the effect of individual characteristics of citizens on ethnic distancing. In addition, there are more or less reliable statistics that provide data at the municipal level. For example, we know the number of unemployed people by municipalities, and likewise we know the average income, average age, number of computer literate people, etc. Consequently, this aggregate data by municipalities were integrated with the data available to CEDEM based on the research, and a file containing variables at two levels was formed, in order to determine the effect of municipalities and their characteristics on ethnic distancing.

Methodologically, with the data integrated and organized in the manner described above, we operated with complex statistical methods and techniques in order to identify the effect of municipalities on ethnic distancing. More precisely, as a method we used hierarchical linear modeling, which involves estimating the so-called fixed regression coefficients. Statistically, the calculus implies the fact that individuals have not only their personal characteristics, but that they are located in their municipalities, and that the same individual characteristics can have different effects in different environments. For example, when we measure the income of the respondents in the research, we have data on the personal income of all respondents, and we can calculate the effect of individual income on ethnic distancing. However, in practice, it may be that someone has an income of 300 euros, but lives in a municipality where the average income is 500 euros, or in a municipality where the average income is 200 euros. In other words, the effect of the same level of income may be different depending on the characteristics of the municipality in which the individual lives. These were the aspects we had in mind, and the procedures we conducted to measure the effect of a specific municipal environment on ethnic distancing. The report is rich in complex statistical methods and techniques, but we have adapted the results of the research to readers and decision makers who do not need special statistical knowledge to understand the data, to use them in their practical work.

The report was prepared within the project “Strengthening the System for a Society of Equal Rights” which the Center for Democracy and Human Rights – CEDEM is implementing with the support of the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, and it is available here.

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