Why are Latinos More Politically Trusting than Other Americans?

35 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2007

See all articles by Marisa Abrajano

Marisa Abrajano

University of California, San Diego - Department of Political Science

R. Michael Alvarez

California Institute of Technology

Date Written: July 20, 2007

Abstract

This paper examines why Latinos, over the past thirty years, are consistently more trusting of the federal government than are Anglos and Blacks. We address this puzzle by turning to previous research on racial politics and political trust. Consistent with previous research, discrimination and generational status are important predictors of Latinos' levels of political trust, with first generation Latinos more trusting than later generation Latinos. Encounters with racial discrimination also make Latinos and Blacks less trusting of government. In contrast, Anglos' levels of political trust can be explained by their economic evaluations as well as their partisanship. While these findings are insightful, they do not directly address why inter-group differences arise when it comes to their trust in government. We argue that, combined with generational distinctions amongst Latinos in their levels of trust, the heavy flow of Latino immigration in the past thirty years has changed the Latino population in such a way that the views of the foreign-born are disproportionately represented in survey questions related to trust in government. This is producing a Latino population that is more inclined to trust government than Anglos or Blacks. We then examine the impact of political trust on individuals' opinions towards redistributive policies. Political trust has a strong and positive effect on Latinos' attitudes towards such policies. These findings have important implications for the future of public opinion and redistributive policy-making in the U.S.

Keywords: political trust, voting, Latinos

Suggested Citation

Abrajano, Marisa and Alvarez, R. Michael, Why are Latinos More Politically Trusting than Other Americans? (July 20, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1017861 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1017861

Marisa Abrajano (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

R. Michael Alvarez

California Institute of Technology ( email )

Department of Humanities and Social Science M/C 228-77
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States
626-395-4422 (Phone)

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