Sydney, Feb.11 : Migrants from non-English speaking countries are less likely to be volunteers than Australian-born people or migrants from English-speaking nations a new study shows.
About 18 per cent of Australian-born middle-income earners aged 25-64 were reportedly more than happy to do volunteer-related work, while in the case of people from non-English speaking countries, the figure was only 13 per cent.
According to Ernest Healy, a senior research fellow at Monash University's Centre for Population and Urban Research, this statistic challenges the notion that ethnic diversity leads to a stronger and more cohesive society.
Professor Healy used various levels of volunteering as an indicator of social cohesion, and showed that suburbs with a high degree of ethnic diversity have markedly lower rates of volunteering than more homogenous localities.
The Sydney Morning Herald said the study is based on 2006 census data for Melbourne, and clearly establishes that migrants from non-English speaking countries are less likely to be volunteers than Australian-born or people from English-speaking countries, even when their income and age are similar.
The study also says that the length of residence in Australia makes little difference, and nor does citizenship, while proficiency in English has a small impact.
However, Dr. Healy says it would be wrong to conclude that migrants from non-English speaking countries were unfriendly and uncaring and less altruistic than Australian-born people.
The findings appear to support research by Robert Puttnam, of Harvard University, that ethnic diversity can hasten a withdrawal from "collective life".