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Trust, Inequality and Ethnic Heterogeneity

Authors

  • ANDREW LEIGH

    1. Social Policy Evaluation, Analysis and Research Centre, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
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    Andrew Leigh, Social Policy Evaluation, Analysis and Research Centre, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia. Email: andrew.leigh@anu.edu.au

    Abstract

    Using a large Australian social survey, combined with precise data on neighbourhood characteristics, I explore the factors that affect trust at a local level (‘localised trust’) and at a national level (‘generalised trust’). Trust is positively associated with the respondent's education, and negatively associated with the amount of time spent commuting. At a neighbourhood level, trust is higher in affluent areas, and lower in ethnically and linguistically heterogeneous communities, with the effect being stronger for linguistic heterogeneity than ethnic heterogeneity. Linguistic heterogeneity reduces localised trust for both natives and immigrants, and reduces generalised trust only for immigrants. Instrumental variables specifications show similar results. In contrast to the USA, there is no apparent relationship between trust and inequality across neighbourhoods in Australia.

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