Familiarity and Trust: Explaining Trust in Government through Ethno-racial Differences
The paper investigates whether generalized trust in government varies among ethnic groups in a society. Theories on trust predominantly explain such institutional trust by the capabilities and intentions of the trusted actors and research into trust is mostly done at the individual level measuring whether individual characteristics of the trustee and trusted one have explanatory power. Meanwhile this paper analyzes the institutional trust at the macro (country) level. Based on a comparative study among 29 countries, this paper argues that there are significant differences between ethnic groups regarding their trust in the country‘s government and that significant effects are visible with the country‘s income inequality and one of Hofstede‘s dimensions of national culture, namely ‘power distance‘. This is an important finding as it calls for multilevel analyses when explaining institutional trust. Trust is not only dependent on individual characteristics of the trusted one and the trustee, but also on macro-level variables.
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