With Time We Learn to Trust Others? Long-Standing Ethnic Diversity, Recent Immigration, and Out-Group Trust in Russia
International Migration Review
This article examines the relationship between ethnic diversity and out-group trust in contemporary Russia, while distinguishing between long-standing ethnic diversity and recent immigration. In contrast to previous research that tested whether past regional experience with diversity is related to people's attitudes toward out-group members, we focus on long-standing ethnic diversity, defined as diversity resulting from the long-term coexistence of ethnic groups in a region, not recent immigration. We hypothesize that while the presence of out-groups may initially be threatening to the members of an ethnic group, long-standing diversity has positive consequences for intergroup relations. Using 2015 survey data combined with census and official registration data from Russian regions, we found that inhabitants of regions with higher levels of long-standing ethnic diversity tended to show higher out-group trust, while accounting for socio-economic characteristics of the regions and of individuals. In contrast, inhabitants of regions with higher recent immigration tended to have lower out-group trust, all else held constant. While these associations were weak, they speak in favor of a dynamic model of intergroup trust, which involves learning about others through mutual coexistence. We also acknowledge that the autochthonous status of ethnic minorities and existing institutional arrangements regarding different ethnic groups in Russia may additionally contribute to the development of trust.