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New Jersey communities more diverse than national average, Rutgers/FDU poll says

Despite diversity, 37% report some or a lot of racial tension

By Nikita Biryukov, October 02 2019 12:01 am

Despite the state’s diversity, more than 40% of the state’s residents say they and all or most of their neighbors share a similar ethnic or racial background.

A join poll conducted by Farleigh Dickinson University and Rutgers University’s Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling found 7% of residents said all of their neighbors looked like them, while 35% said most of their neighbors shared a similar background.

Of the remaining 48%, 23% said half their neighbors shared their background, while 26% said only some did and 8% said none of their neighbors shared a similar background.

“A notable segment of the population is isolated from the diversity New Jersey is so well known for and does not see it as a necessity in everyday life,” said Ashley Koning, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton poll. “Who you live next to and what you believe are significantly influenced by key demographic factors like race, ethnicity, region, socioeconomic status, and age.”

Most New Jerseyans, 59%, told pollsters they believed it was important peoples of different racial and ethnic groups live, work and go to school with each other. Four-tenths said they believed diversity was not important as long as everyone is treated fairly and provided the same opportunities.

“New Jersey is a true melting pot, and the solid support we see for racial and ethnic diversity goes hand in hand with the personal experiences many have with this kind of variety in their daily lives,” said Krista Jenkins, director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll. “And even for those who report living in neighborhoods that are less diverse, their support for diversity in everyday life is similarly strong.”

Despite those beliefs, 37% of residents said there was a lot or some racial or ethnic tension in their communities, while 40% said there was little tension and 22% said there was none.

New Jersey adults reported more diversity in their communities than U.S. residents did nationally, but they reported roughly the same level of economic diversity.

A little more than half, 51%, or residents said all, 9%, or most, 42%, of their neighbors shared the same social class, while 22% said half did and 18% said only some did.

The remaining 6% said they did not share a social class with any of their neighbors.

Most of the state’s residents, 68%, support policies requiring municipalities to actively promote the construction of low and moderate-income housing.

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