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Does Diversity Drive Down Trust?

Author

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  • Eric M. Uslaner

    (University of Maryland)

Abstract

Some researchers claim that diverse populations lead to less trust. Generalized trust is a core value that leads to positive outcomes in societies--from greater tolerance of minority groups and immigrants and willingness to do good deeds, to less corruption, more social welfare and education spending, more open markets, and better functioning government. Generalized trust fundamentally rests upon a foundation of respect for diversity, but at the same time arguing that societies have a common culture. It is the idea that people have a shared fate. Generalized trust rests upon a foundation of economic equality. Yet some claim that diversity leads to less trust rather than more trust. Trusting people who are different from yourself is atypical of most people, they claim. I dispute this--arguing that generalized trust is largely unrelated to population diversity. It is not diversity that matters--it is how populations are distributed. I show that trust is lower not in diverse societies, but rather in societies with large minority groups that are segregated from the majority groups. Minority residential segregation leads to less trust because it leads to less interaction across different groups in society--and leads minorities to associate only with each other, to form their own political organizations, and to see their fate as less dependent upon majority groups. I then discuss how economic inequality and the rule of law shape the relationship between trust and minority residential segregation.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric M. Uslaner, 2006. "Does Diversity Drive Down Trust?," Working Papers 2006.69, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2006.69
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    File URL: http://www.feem.it/userfiles/attach/Publication/NDL2006/NDL2006-069.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Easterly, William & Kurlat, Sergio & Wacziarg, Romain, 2003. "Fractionalization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 155-194, June.
    2. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    3. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-548, June.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2003. "Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2028, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    5. repec:hrv:faseco:30747160 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Fearon, James D, 2003. "Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cellini, Roberto & Paolino, Alessandro, 2007. "Price of recreational products and the exchange rate: an empirical investigation on US data," MPRA Paper 5194, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Tesei, Andrea, 2015. "Trust and racial income inequality: evidence from the U.S," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 61029, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Thomas Farole & Andres Rodriguez-Pose & Michael Storper, 2007. "Social capital, rules, and institutions: A cross-country investigation," Sciences Po publications 2007-12, Sciences Po.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Trust; Diversity; Corruption;

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption

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