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Does Ethnic Diversity Erode Trust? Putnam’s ‘Hunkering Down’ Thesis Reconsidered

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 November 2010

Abstract

We use a multi-level modelling approach to estimate the effect of ethnic diversity on measures of generalized and strategic trust using data from a new survey in Britain with a sample size approaching 25,000 individuals. In addition to the ethnic diversity of neighbourhoods, we incorporate a range of indicators of the socio-economic characteristics of individuals and the areas in which they live. Our results show no effect of ethnic diversity on generalized trust. There is a statistically significant association between diversity and a measure of strategic trust, but in substantive terms, the effect is trivial and dwarfed by the effects of economic deprivation and the social connectedness of individuals.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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References

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44 Uslaner, The Moral Foundations of Trust. As might be anticipated from the fact that neighbours will generally comprise a mix of known and unknown others, the TiN item has moderate loadings on both a ‘trust in strangers’ and a ‘trust in friends and family’ component, though the highest loading is on the latter dimension.

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54 Soroka, Helliwell, and Johnston, ‘Measuring and Modelling Interpersonal Trust’.

55 The TPS is funded by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (see http://www.culture.gov.uk/4828.aspx).

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70 For all MSOAs, the correlation between the 1991 and 2001 Herfindahl indices is 0.971.

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79 Putnam identifies television as the ‘mysterious anti-civic X-ray’ responsible for the precipitate decline in trust and other indicators of social capital in the United States since the 1950s (Putnam, ‘The Strange Disappearance of Civic America’).

80 Stolle, Soroka and Johnston, ‘When Does Diversity Erode Trust?’

81 In multi-level models, level-2 fixed effects can only explain variability at that level while level-1 fixed effects can explain variability at both levels if the mean of explanatory variable is not equal across level-2 units (Hox, Multilevel Analysis. Techniques and Applications).

82 Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’; Goodhart, ‘Too Diverse?’

83 Uslaner, The Moral Foundations of Trust; Hardin, ‘Conceptions and Explanations of Trust’; Putnam, Robert D., Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

84 Uslaner, The Moral Foundations of Trust; Newton, ‘Social and Political Trust’.

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86 Stolle, Soroka and Johnston, ‘When Does Diversity Erode Trust?’; Uslaner, The Moral Foundations of Trust.

87 Putnam, Bowling Alone; Paxton, ‘Not All Association Memberships Increase Trust’.

88 Sturgis and Smith, ‘Assessing the Validity of Generalized Trust Questions: What Kind of Trust Are We Measuring?’; Uslaner, The Moral Foundations of Trust.

89 Stolle, Soroka and Johnston, ‘When Does Diversity Erode Trust?’

90 Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’ (emphasis added).

91 Putnam, , ‘E Pluribus Unum’, p. 165Google Scholar.

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