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Homeownership and Social Trust in Neighbors

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Brian J. McCabe, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Georgetown University, 3520 Prospect St., N.W. Suite 209, Washington, DC 20057; mccabeb@georgetown.edu

Abstract

This paper investigates the role of homeownership in generating social trust among neighbors. Drawing on data from the 2006 Social Capital Community Survey, it tests whether homeownership contributes to the formation of social capital by strengthening the bonds of trust in local neighborhoods. Through a falsification strategy that compares trust in neighbors to trust in other social groups, the results confirm that homeowners are more trusting of their neighbors than renters, but are no more likely to trust strangers, shopkeepers, coworkers, or the police. While initial models reveal spillover effects into neighborhoods with high homeownership rates, further analyses suggest that median neighborhood income is the more salient predictor of neighborhood-level social trust. The findings contribute to a rich sociological tradition of neighborhood research by focusing on the role of homeownership in strengthening local communities.

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