Department of Political Science

Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust: The Role of Exposure in the Micro-Context

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In this paper we argue that residential exposure to ethnic diversity reduces social trust. Previous within-country analyses of the relationship between contextual ethnic diversity and trust have been conducted at higher levels of aggregation, concealing substantial variation in actual exposure to ethnic diversity. In contrast, we analyze how ethnic diversity of the immediate micro-context – where interethnic exposure is inevitable – affects trust. We do this using Danish survey data linked with register-based data, which enables us to obtain precise measures of the ethnic diversity of each individual’s residential surroundings. We focus on contextual diversity within a radius of 80 meters of a given individual, but compare the effect in the micro-context to the impact of diversity in more aggregate contexts. The results show that ethnic diversity in the micro-context affects trust negatively, while the effect vanishes in larger contextual units. This supports the idea that interethnic exposure underlies the relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Publication yearMay 2013
Number of pages44
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
EventEthnic Diversity and Social Capital: Mechanisms, Conditions and Causality - Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), Berlin, Germany
Duration: 24 May 201325 May 2013


ConferenceEthnic Diversity and Social Capital
LocationSocial Science Research Center Berlin (WZB)

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