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Published January 1, 2010 | public
Journal Article

Assessing the Causes and Effects of Political Trust Among U.S. Latinos


This article examines why Latinos are more trusting of the federal government than 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' 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' political trust can be explained by their economic evaluations as well as their partisanship. Although these findings are insightful, they do not directly address why intergroup differences arise when it comes to their trust in government. We argue that combined with generational distinctions among Latinos in their trust of government, the heavy flow of Latino immigration in the past 30 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 toward redistributive policies. Political trust has a strong and positive effect on Latinos' attitudes toward such policies.

Additional Information

© 2010 The Author(s). First Published December 16, 2009. Abrajano would like to thank Zoltan Hajnal, Thad Kousser, Gerry Mackie, Megumi Naoi, Michael Jones-Correa, and Jennifer Merolla for their comments and suggestions.

Additional details

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