Political Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

Acculturation Effects on Trust in National and Local Government Among Mexican Americans

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Objectives. The objectives of this article are to examine the impact of acculturation on the levels of trust in both the national and local governments in a long-term minority-majority community and to consider the effect on Mexican Americans' level of trust of long-term co-ethnic control of local government.

Methods. Ordered probit is applied to measures of local and national political trust derived from the National Election Studies. Data were drawn from a sample of Latino respondents residing in the predominantly Mexican-American region of south Texas. Independent variables include a language-based measure of acculturation, a measure of interethnic social interaction, and items dealing with respondents' evaluations of the honesty, efficiency, and beneficiaries of governmental policies. Clarify is then used to estimate the real-world impacts of these variables.

Results. Acculturation has a significant and negative impact on trust in the national government. This effect vanishes, however, at the local level. Moreover, co-ethnic control of government appears not to be related to trust.

Conclusions. Trust in the national government is significantly reduced by acculturation, while trust in local government is unaffected. Moreover, trust in government is not enhanced by co-ethnic control of the levers of political power.


Copyright 2006 Southwestern Social Science Association


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Social Science Quarterly