Where You Stand Depends Upon Where Your Grandparents Sat: The Inheritability of Generalized Trust

38 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2005

See all articles by Eric M. Uslaner

Eric M. Uslaner

University of Maryland, College Park; Institute for Corruption Studies

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2005

Abstract

Generalized trust is a stable value that is transmitted from parents to children. Do its roots go back further in time? Using a person's ethnic heritage (where their grandparents came from) and the share of people of different ethnic backgrounds in a state, I ask whether your own ethnic background matters more than whom you live among. People whose grandparents came to the United States from countries that have high levels of trust (Nordics, and the British) tend to have higher levels of generalized trust (using the General Social Survey from 1972 to 1996). People living in states with high German or British populations (but not Nordic populations) are also more trusting (using state-level census data). Italians, Latinos, and African-Americans also tend to have lower levels of trust, but it is not clear that country of origin can account for these negative results. Overall, there are effects for both culture (where your grandparents came from) and experience (which groups you live among), but the impact of ethnic heritage seem stronger.

Keywords: trust, ethnicity

Suggested Citation

Uslaner, Eric M., Where You Stand Depends Upon Where Your Grandparents Sat: The Inheritability of Generalized Trust (October 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=824464 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.824464

Eric M. Uslaner (Contact Author)

University of Maryland, College Park ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
+1301 405 4151 (Phone)
+1301 314 9690 (Fax)

Institute for Corruption Studies

Stevenson Hall 425
Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

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