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.

This content is only available via PDF.