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Unity in Diversity? How Intergroup Contact Can Foster Nation Building

March 8, 2018

DECRG Kuala Lumpur Seminar Series

  • Ethnic divisions complicate nation building, but little is known about how to mitigate these divisions. We use one of history’s largest resettlement programs to show how intergroup contact affects long-run integration. In the 1980s, the Indonesian government relocated two million migrants into hundreds of new communities to encourage interethnic mixing. Two decades later, more diverse communities exhibit deeper integration, as reflected in language use and intergroup marriage. Endogenous sorting across communities cannot explain these effects. Rather, initial conditions, including residential segregation, political and economic competition, and linguistic differences influence which diverse communities integrate. These findings contribute lessons for resettlement policy. Download the paper

    Watch and join usSeminar will be livestreamed, allowing for online audience participation (only available during the seminar) 


  • Maisy Wong

    Dr. Wong is an Associate Professor at the Wharton Real Estate Department in University of Pennsylvania. She is interested in migration, urbanization, housing markets, and real estate finance. She has research projects on labor mobility, residential segregation, slums and land markets, conflicts of interest and risks in commercial mortgage-backed securities. She has published in the American Economic Review, Review of Economic Studies, and Journal of Finance. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Urban Economics, was elected to the board of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association (AREUEA), and currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Grayken International Real Estate Program at Wharton. She has also consulted for the World Bank. She was born and raised in Malaysia, earned her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley in 2003 and her Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2008.


  • when: Thursday, March 8, 2018; 12:30-2:00PM
  • where: World Bank Malaysia Office, Level 3, Sasana Kijang, No. 2, Jalan Dato’ Onn
  • rsvp: Kindly RSVP by Wednesday, March 7, 2018