University of New Hampshire
Mentor: Dr. Dante Scala, Department of Political Science
Understanding Immigrants' Trust in Public Institutions
For the past fifty years, public opinion surveys have shown an overall declining public trust in the American government (Cook, Gronke. 784). According to the 2017 Pew public opinion survey only 68% of Americans trust the government some of the time, while 11% of people state that they would never trust the government to do what is right (Pew. 2017). Studies suggest that different races, particularly immigrants, experience varying levels of trust in comparison to their white American counterparts. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that these trust levels are significantly lower within immigrant populations and vary by different races (Alvarez.121). In this study, I will carry out a statistical analysis of data from a public opinion survey, the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). The focus of this study is to determine the characteristics of immigrants who trust in public institutions and how these characteristics compare amongst different immigrant communities. I hypothesize that European immigrants who have resided in the United States for a longer duration of time will demonstrate a higher level of trust than immigrants of African and Latino backgrounds. I also expect to find that immigrants who reside in densely populated areas will exhibit less trust in government than those who reside in low-density populated areas. There is an abundance of research on primarily Anglo-Americans’ public trust in government institutions, but not enough in the areas of immigrants’ trust in public institutions. This research will help fill the void in the general body of research on public trust in government as a whole by focusing on an understudied subset within the American population.