Inter-ethnic culture gap in Estonia

Project leader

Leonid Polishchuk

Project period


Project description

Ethnic minorities maintain distinct norms and values over generations. At the same time norms and values of minorities and migrants could also exhibit convergence to the national mainstream. Such convergence, however, is often obstructed by segregation, discrimination, and mistrust between ethnic groups. We explore drivers and impediments to inter-ethnic cultural convergence in Estonia, where nearly 30% of population are native Russian speakers. We present evidence drawn from six consecutive rounds of the European Social Survey covering the period from 2004 through 2014. By controlling for various individual characteristics that could affect cultural views, we isolate the impact of ethnicity from its correlates and show that it remains a significant factor of values and attitudes in and of itself, especially with regard to the perception of the Estonian society, placement on the autonomy to paternalism scale, and attitudes to state and political institutions. We also investigate the impact of day-to-day contact of ethnic Russians with ethnic Estonians, and show that such interaction noticeably reduces the differences between ethnic groups in some key views and attitudes, making the Estonian society more culturally homogenous.