This paper investigates generalized trust and political trust among immigrants and natives in the Netherlands. Research has shown that people who are more trustful tend to have higher subjective well-being, and economic theory suggests that higher levels of trust will improve the efficiency of societies’ economic and democratic institutions (Alesina & La Ferrara, 2002; Helliwell, 2003). Studies also show that trust is lower among immigrants than among natives, raising concerns about immigrants’ societal integration (Dinesen & Hooghe, 2010).
While socio-economic position is widely considered to be a crucial determinant of trust (Dinesen & Hooghe, 2010), it is not yet known to what extent the differences in political and generalized trust between immigrants and natives can be explained by socio-economic inequalities, and whether the relations between socio-economic position on the one hand and generalized and political trust on the other differ between immigrants and natives.
We rely on cross-sectional data from the NELLS Study, and we use multiple regression analyses to test our hypotheses. Respondents include about 2500 natives and 1800 immigrants from Moroccan and Turkish origin in the Netherlands.
Results show that socio-economic inequalities can partially explain the differences in trust between immigrants and natives, but also that economic success is much more closely related to generalized and political trust among immigrants than it is among natives. Additional analyses show that perceived discrimination and interaction with natives and co-ethnics are important additional explanations of trust among immigrants.