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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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Lawrence Bobo , ‘Group Conflict, Prejudice, and the Paradox of Contemporary Racial Attitudes’, Eliminating Racism: Profiles in Controversy (1988), pp. 85114

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

C. Propper , ‘Local Neighbourhood and Mental Health: Evidence from the UK’, ESRC Research Methods Programme Working Paper 6 (2005)

Robert D. Putnam , Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000)

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
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