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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 6:00 PM
Room: Booth 54
Oral Presentation
Peter Thisted DINESEN , Political Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen K, Denmark
Kim Mannemar SØNDERSKOV , Political Science, Aarhus University, Aarhus C, Denmark
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.