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Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust: A Narrative and Meta-Analytical Review

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  • Peter Thisted Dinesen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Merlin Schaeffer, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Kim Mannemar Sønderskov
Does ethnic diversity erode social trust? Continued immigration and corresponding growing ethnic diversity have prompted this essential question for modern societies, but few clear answers have been reached in the sprawling literature. This article reviews the literature on the relationship between ethnic diversity and social trust through a narrative review and a meta-analysis of 1,001 estimates from 87 studies. The review clarifies the core concepts, highlights pertinent debates, and tests core claims from the literature on the relationship between ethnic diversity and social trust. Several results stand out from the meta-analysis. We find a statistically significant negative relationship between ethnic diversity and social trust across all studies. The relationship is stronger for trust in neighbors and when ethnic diversity is measured more locally. Covariate conditioning generally changes the relationship only slightly. The review concludes by discussing avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
Pages (from-to)441-465
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Ethnic diversity, context, immigration, meta-analysis, social trust

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