Breidahl, Karen N. & Gina Gustavsson. Can we trust the natives? Exploring the relationship between national identity and trust among immigrants and their descendants in Denmark. Nations and Nationalism, 28(2), 2022, 592–611.
Politicians often seek to strengthen national identity by encouraging immigrants to adopt the ‘national values’, thus supposedly boosting trust. However, empirical studies of the social effects of national identity have focused almost exclusively on the native majority. In this article, we instead ask how national identity among immigrant minorities affects their trust, including towards natives. We draw on unique survey data from a representative sample of the five largest non-Western immigrant groups and their descendants in Denmark. This reveals that national belonging, national pride and citizenship preferences are positively linked to social as well as institutional trust. These relationships hold even when controlling for the perception of sharing one’s values with others and the extent to which one holds ‘typically Danish’ values widely shared among the majority population. This suggests that the emotional component of national identity, but not its content in the form of values, indeed forms an important basis for social cohesion.