Previous research suggests that individual-level factors such as socio-economic disadvantage and discrimination account for lower levels of generalized social trust of immigrants when compared to natives. This study examines how individual and contextual economic conditions impact such trust gaps. We argue that—beyond objective economic circumstances—evaluations of economic opportunities matter for immigrants’ integration, and for their social trust. Using data from the European Social Survey 2012 and 2016, merged with regional economic conditions, results from two-way fixed effects multilevel models show that gaps in social trust are wider in regions where the state of the economy is predominantly evaluated as being prosperous. Additional tests show that, in those regions, immigrants report higher levels of discrimination and lower levels of satisfaction with social life. This study adds the important finding to the literature on social inequality and immigrant integration that favorable economic conditions may, paradoxically, increase native-immigrant trust asymmetries.
This study examines the relationship between residential segregation and social trust of immigrants and natives in the Netherlands. Building on previous studies that have found evidence for a negative segregation-trust link, we present a nuanced narrative by (i) distinguishing between an ethnic minority and majority perspective, (ii) elaborating theoretical foundations on the moderating role of individual exposure in the form of ethnic minority concentration in the neighborhood, and (iii) taking income segregation into account. In addition to the refined theoretical framework, our study employs a rigorous empirical approach. Using two waves (2009 and 2013) of the Netherlands Longitudinal Lifecourse Study—a geocoded panel study with an oversampling of Moroccan and Turkish immigrants—we are able to study the influence of (changes in) municipality-level segregation patterns for both natives and immigrants, and consider the roles of both neighborhood ethnic minority concentration, as well as income-based segregation. Results from four-level multilevel models show that ethnic segregation is negatively related to the social trust of immigrants. At the same time, this negative relationship is particularly strong in neighborhoods with a low level of minority population concentration, which provides support for the so-called integration paradox where negative intergroup interactions reduce social trust. For respondents of Dutch origin, we find no evidence that their social trust is sensitive to ethnic segregation or that this relationship is conditional on minority concentration at the neighborhood level.
Immigrants’ economic progress, on the one hand, serves as an indicator of successful integration and should serve to mitigate natives’ concerns about potential economic or welfare state–related burdens of immigration. On the other hand, the fact of immigrants improving their social status may also induce perceptions of competition and group-related relative deprivation. This study examines whether immigrants’ progress leads either to improved attitudes toward immigrants or to a greater perception of immigration-related threat. Specifically, I focus on how individuals’ egalitarian values and experiences in intergroup contact condition their responses to immigrants’ economic progress. Using data from the European Social Survey 2014, combined with country-level change scores in income gaps between natives and immigrants, I find that respondents who encountered negative experiences in intergroup contact respond to immigrants’ progress with increasing anti-immigrant sentiment. A survey experiment manipulating exposure to information about group-specific income trends mirrors this finding. The results have important implications for debates about immigrants’ integration and the economic motives underlying immigration-related attitudes.