Generalized trust, the faith we place in strangers, is a fundamental attribute of democratic societies. We investigate the development of generalized trust using survey data collected from Romanian high school students within a multi-level, panel research design. We find that diversity in the classroom, defined through ethnic and socio-economic differences, has negative effects on generalized trust. Associational membership interacts indirectly with diversity, counteracting the negative impact of ethnic diversity but reinforcing socio-economic distinctions. The findings support cultural theories of generalized trust and point to the potentially positive role educational policy might play in encouraging trust among youths.

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