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

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.

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2 Costa Dora and Kahn Matthew, ‘Civic Engagement and Community Heterogeneity: An Economist’s Perspective’, Perspectives on Politics, 1 (2003), 103111; Delhey Jan and Newton Kenneth, ‘Predicting Cross-National Levels of Social Trust: Global Pattern or Nordic Exceptionalism?’ European Sociological Review, 21 (2005), 311327; Alesina Alberto and La Ferrera Eliana, ‘Who Trusts Others?’ Journal of Public Economics, 85 (2002), 207234; Goodhart David, ‘Too Diverse?’ Prospect, February (2004), 3037.

3 Putnam Robert D., ‘E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-First Century: The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture’, Scandinavian Political Studies, 30 (2007), 137174.

4 Stolle Dietland, Soroka Stuart N. and Johnston Richard, ‘When Does Diversity Erode Trust? Neighborhood Diversity, Interpersonal Trust and the Mediating Effect of Social Interactions’, Political Studies, 56 (2008), 5775.

5 Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’. It is important to note that, in Putnam’s account, the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity are argued to be evident only in the short to medium term; in the long run, the hunkering-down mechanism stops and inter-ethnic distrust dissipates. However, only anecdotal evidence is presented in support of this benign denouement, and therefore its status must be considered at present as little more than speculative.

6 For our purposes here, we include only studies that have directly investigated the association between area-level ethnic diversity and trust. Thus, we exclude studies that have approached the same substantive question but without using independently collected area-level measures of diversity (e.g. Nannestad Peter, ‘What Have We Learned About Generalized Trust, If Anything?’ Annual Review of Political Science, 11 (2008), 413436; Bahry Donna et al. , ‘Ethnicity and Trust: Evidence from Russia’, American Political Science Review, 99 (2006), 521532.

7 Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’.

8 Stolle Dietland and Morje Howard Marc, ‘Civic Engagement and Civic Attitudes in Cross-National Perspective: Introduction to the Symposium’, Political Studies, 56 (2008), 111.

9 Letki Natalia, ‘Does Diversity Erode Social Cohesion? Social Capital and Race in British Neighbourhoods’, Political Studies, 56 (2008), 99126. Letki does, however, find a negative effect of ethnic diversity on a latent variable which she labels ‘neighbourhood attitudes’ that includes a ‘trust in neighbours’ item. However, this variable also incorporates three additional items relating to different aspects of neighbourhood perceptions, including social contact, which as we make clear in our later discussion of the theoretical mechanism through which diversity is argued to influence trust, should be considered separately.

10 Leigh Andrew, ‘Trust, Inequality and Ethnic Heterogeneity’, Economic Record, 82 (2006), 268280.

11 Hall Peter A, ‘Social Capital in Britain’, British Journal of Political Science, 29 (1999), 417461; Grenier Paola and Wright Karen, ‘Social Capital in Britain: Exploring the Hall Paradox’, Policy Studies, 27 (2006), 2753; Stolle Dietland and Hooghe Marc, ‘Inaccurate, Exceptional, One-Sided or Irrelevant? The Debate About the Alleged Decline of Social Capital and Civic Engagement in Western Societies’, British Journal of Political Science, 35 (2005), 149167; Andersen Robert, Curtis James and Grabb Edward, ‘Trends in Civic Association Activity in Four Democracies: The Special Case of Women in the United States’, American Sociological Review, 71 (2006), 376400.

12 Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’, p. 144.

13 Turner J. C. et al. , Rediscovering the Social Group: A Self-Categorization Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987).

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

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

16 Schuman H. and Presser S., Questions and Answers in Attitude Surveys: Experiments on Question Form, Wording and Context (New York: Academic Press, 1981). Self-reported diversity measures are susceptible to the alternative explanation that those who are less trusting of ethnic out-groups over-estimate the level of ethnic heterogeneity in their neighbourhood, a possibility that can be discounted when using census-based measures of diversity merged with the survey micro-data.

17 Ross Catherine, Mirowsky John and Pribesh Shana, ‘Powerlessness and the Amplification of Threat: Neighborhood Disadvantage, Disorder, and Mistrust’, American Sociological Review, 66 (2001), 568591, p. 569.

18 Marschall Melissa and Stolle Dietland, ‘Race and the City: Neighborhood Context and the Development of Generalized Trust’, Political Behavior, 26 (2004), 125154.

19 Alesina Alberto and La Ferrera Eliana, ‘Participation in Heterogeneous Communities’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115 (2000), 847904; Costa and Kahn, ‘Civic Engagement and Community Heterogeneity’.

20 Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’; Stolle, Soroka and Johnston, ‘When Does Diversity Erode Trust?’; Soroka Stuart, Helliwell John F and Johnston Richard, ‘Measuring and Modelling Interpersonal Trust’, Social Capital, Diversity, and the Welfare State (2007).

21 Letki, ‘Does Diversity Erode Social Cohesion?’; Anderson Christopher and Paskeviciute Aida, ‘How Ethnic and Linguistic Heterogeneity Influence the Prospects for Civil Society: A Comparative Case Study of Citizenship Behavior’, Journal of Politics, 68 (2006), 783802; Alesina Alberto and La Ferrera Eliana, ‘Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance’ (Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Reseach, 2004); Leigh, Trust, Inequality and Ethnic Heterogeneity (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press).

22 Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’; Pennant Rachel, ‘Diversity, Trust and Community Participation in England’ (London: Home Office, 2005); Stolle, Soroka and Johnston, ‘When Does Diversity Erode Trust?’

23 Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’; Alesina and Ferrara, ‘Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance’.

24 Anderson and Paskeviciute, ‘How Ethnic and Linguistic Heterogeneity Influence the Prospects for Civil Society’; Leigh, ‘Trust, Inequality and Ethnic Heterogeneity’.

25 Costa and Kahn, ‘Civic Engagement and Community Heterogeneity’.

26 Soroka, Helliwell and Johnston, ‘Measuring and Modelling Interpersonal Trust’; Stolle, Soroka and Johnston, ‘When Does Diversity Erode Trust?’

27 Knack Stephan, ‘Groups, Growth and Trust: Cross-Country Evidence on the Olson and Putnam Hypotheses’, Public Choice, 117 (2003), 341355.

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

29 Levi Margaret, ‘Social and Un-Social Capital: A Review Essay of Robert Putnam’s “Making Democracy Work”’, Politics and Society, 24 (1996), 4555, Newton Kenneth, ‘Social and Political Trust’, The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 342362.

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

31 Yamagishi Toshio, Cook Karen S. and Watabe Motoki, ‘Uncertainty, Trust and Commitment Formation in the United States and Japan’, American Journal of Sociology, 104 (1998), 165194.

32 Putnam (2000) makes the same distinction but labels the different types of trust as ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ respectively. Bowling Alone: ‘The collapse and revival of American Community’ (New York: Simon and Schuster).

33 Hardin Russell, ‘Conceptions and Explanations of Trust’, in K. Cook, ed., Trust and Society (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2001), pp. 339, Hardin Russell, Trust (Cambridge: Polity, 2006).

34 Delhey Jan and Newton Kenneth, ‘Who Trusts? The Origins of Social Trust in Seven Societies’, European Societies, 5 (2003), pp. 93137.

35 Paxton Pamela, ‘Not All Association Memberships Increase Trust: A Model of Generalized Trust in Thirty-One Countries’, Social Forces, 86 (2007), 4776, Granovetter Mark, ‘The Strength of Weak Ties’, American Journal of Sociology, 78 (1973), pp. 13601380.

36 Fukayama Francis, Trust (New York: The Free Press, 1995).

37 Portes Alejandro, ‘Social Capital: Its Origins and Applications in Modern Sociology’, Annual Review of Sociology, 24 (1998), 124, Putnam Robert D., ‘Bowling Together’, American Prospect, 13 (2002), 2022.

38 Uslaner Eric, The Moral Foundations of Trust (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 20.

39 Putnam’s account differentiates ‘inter-’ from ‘intra-’ ethnic trust but how this relates to the ‘thick/thin’, ‘generalized/particularized’ distinction is not clear.

40 Costa and Kahn, ‘Civic Engagement and Community Heterogeneity: An Economist’s Perspective’; Anderson and Paskeviciute, ‘How Ethnic and Linguistic Heterogeneity Influence the Prospects for Civil Society’; Marschall and Stolle, ‘Race and the City’.

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

42 Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’.

43 Leigh, ‘Trust, Inequality and Ethnic Heterogeneity’.

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.

45 Sturgis Patrick and Smith Patten, ‘Assessing the Validity of Generalized Trust Questions: What Kind of Trust Are We Measuring?’ International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 22 (2010), 7492.

46 See also, Uslaner, The Moral Foundations of Trust.

47 Marschall and Stolle, ‘Race and the City’.

48 Leigh, ‘Trust, Inequality and Ethnic Heterogeneity’; Soroka, Helliwell and Johnston, ‘Measuring and Modelling Interpersonal Trust’; Costa and Kahn, ‘Civic Engagement and Community Heterogeneity’.

49 Hooghe Marc, Reeskens Tim, Stolle Dietland and Trappers Ann, ‘Ethnic Diversity, Trust and Ethnocentrism and Europe: A Multilevel Analysis of 21 European Countries’ (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, 2006).

50 Anderson and Paskeviciute, ‘How Ethnic and Linguistic Heterogeneity Influence the Prospects for Civil Society’.

51 Putnam Robert, ‘The Strange Disappearance of Civic America’, The American Prospect, 24 (1996), 724; Costa and Kahn, ‘Civic Engagement and Community Heterogeneity: An Economist’s Perspective’; Anderson and Paskeviciute, ‘How Ethnic and Linguistic Heterogeneity Influence the Prospects for Civil Society’; Stolle, Soroka and Johnston, ‘When Does Diversity Erode Trust?’; Knack Stephen and Keefer Phillip, ‘Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112 (1997), 12511288; Leigh, ‘Trust, Inequality and Ethnic Heterogeneity’.

52 Cohen J., ‘The Earth Is Round (P<.05)’, American Psychologist, 49 (1994), 9971003, Freedman David, ‘Statistical Models and Shoe Leather’, Sociological Methodology, 21 (1991), 291313.

53 In fact, this is itself likely to be an over-estimate. Putnam later reports that when the non-independence between sample units is accounted for in a multi-level model, the coefficient is ‘slightly lower’, although he does not say by how much (Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’, p. 158). See also Pennant, ‘Diversity, Trust and Community Participation in England’; Leigh, ‘Trust, Inequality and Ethnic Heterogeneity’.

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).

56 See Williams Joel, ‘Taking Part: The National Survey of Culture, Leisure and Sport (2005–06), Final Technical Report’ (London: Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, 2006).

57 Aust Rebecca and Vine Lisa, ‘Taking Part: The National Survey of Culture, Leisure and Sport, Annual Report 2005/2006’ (London: Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, 2007).

58 Where there is more than one household at an address, a single household is selected at random.

59 Brown C. and Ritchie J., ‘Focused Enumeration: The Development of a Method for Sampling Ethnic Minority Groups’ (London: PSI/SCPR, 1981).

60 Johnston R. et al. , ‘Fractal Factors? Scale, Factor Analyses and Neighbourhood Effects’, ESRC Research Methods Programme Working Paper, 2 (2005), 124.

61 Martin David, ‘Geography for the 2001 Census in England and Wales’ (London: Office for National Statistics, 2001).

62 Maas Cora and Hox Joop, ‘Sufficient Sample Sizes for Multilevel Modeling’, Methodology: European Journal of Research Methods for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, 1 (2005), 8591.

63 Sampson Robert, Morenoff Jeffrey and Gannon-Rowley Thomas, ‘Assessing “Neighbourhood Effects”: Social Processes and New Directions in Research’, Annual Review of Sociology, 28 (2002), 443478.

64 See, for example: Hale C., Pack P. and Salkfeld J., ‘The Structural Determinants of Fear of Crime: An Analysis Using Census and Crime Survey Data from England and Wales’, International Review of Victimology, 3 (1994), 211233; Lowenkamp Christopher, Cullen Francis and Pratt Travis, ‘Replicating Sampson and Groves’s Test of Social Disorganisation Theory: Revisiting a Criminological Classic’, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 40 (2003), 351373, Sampson Robert and Byron Groves W., ‘Community Structure and Crime: Testing Social Disorganisation Theory’, American Journal of Sociology, 94 (1989), 774802, Taylor R. B. and Covington J., ‘Community Structural Change and Fear of Crime’, Social Problems, 40 (1993), 374397.

65 Morenoff J. D. and Sampson R. J., ‘Violent Crime and the Spatial Dynamics of Neighbourhood Transition: Chicago, 1970–1990’, Social Forces, 76 (1997), 3164.

66 Kaiser H. F., ‘A Second-Generation Little Jiffy’, Psychometrika, 35 (1970), 401415.

67 Johnston et al., ‘Fractal Factors? Scale, Factor Analyses and Neighbourhood Effects’; Propper C. et al. , ‘Local Neighbourhood and Mental Health: Evidence from the UK’, ESRC Research Methods Programme Working Paper 6 (2005).

68 Pearson correlation = 0.981 (p < 0.001).

69 cf. Putnam, ‘E Pluribus Unum’.

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

71 The Institute of Public Policy Research estimates that the total number of post-2004 immigrants from Eastern Europe was 550,000 (see Pollard Naomi, Latorre Maria and Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, ‘Floodgates or Turnstiles: Post EU-Enlargement Migration Flows to (and from) the UK’ (London: IPPR, 2008).

72 Alesina and Ferrera, ‘Who Trusts Others?’; Delhey and Newton, ‘Who Trusts?’; Delhey and Newton, ‘Predicting Cross-National Levels of Social Trust’; Li Yaojun, Pickles Andrew and Savage Mike, ‘Social Capital and Social Trust in Britain’, European Sociological Review, 21 (2005), 109123.

73 Twenty per cent of respondents provided no answer to the earnings question, and therefore this was imputed using a hot-deck procedure in STATA 10. See Mander Adrian and Clayton David, ‘Hotdeck Imputation’, Stata Technical Bulletin, 9 (2000), 3234.

74 Rosenberg Morris, ‘Misanthropy and Political Ideology’, American Sociological Review 21 (1956), 690695.

75 Goldstein Harvey, Multilevel Statistical Models 3rd Edition, 3rd edn (London: Arnold, 2003); Hox J., Multilevel Analysis. Techniques and Applications. (Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002).

76 Hox , Multilevel Analysis. Techniques and Applications (Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002).

77 See Rabe-Hesketh Sophia and Skrondal Anders, Multilevel and Longitudinal Modeling Using Stata, 2nd edn (College Station, Tex.: Stata Press, 2008).

78 Models are estimated in STATA 10 using the xtmixed and xtmelogit commands. See Rabe-Hesketh and Skrondal, Multilevel and Longitudinal Modeling Using Stata, 2nd edn.

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).

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

85 Marschall and Stolle, ‘Race and the City’; Leigh, ‘Trust, Inequality and Ethnic Heterogeneity’; Soroka, Helliwell and Johnston, ‘Measuring and Modelling Interpersonal Trust’; Costa and Kahn, ‘Civic Engagement and Community Heterogeneity’; Hooghe et al., ‘Ethnic Diversity, Trust and Ethnocentrism and Europe’; Anderson and Paskeviciute, ‘How Ethnic and Linguistic Heterogeneity Influence the Prospects for Civil Society’.

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. 165.

* The authors are at the following institutions, respectively: Sturgis, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton (email: ); Brunton-Smith, Division of Social Statistics, University of Southampton; Read, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Alum, Department of Sociology, University of Essex.

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British Journal of Political Science
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