Poll Shows Growing Distrust Among Neighbors

April 25, 2016

More residents say they don’t trust their neighbors. Forty-eight percent of respondents in a recent Pew Research Center survey say they don’t trust any of their neighbors or they only trust some of them.

But what’s prompting the growing distrust among some neighbors? The survey found that those who feel unsafe in their neighborhoods are the most likely not to trust their neighbors. Rural and suburban residents tend to trust their neighbors and feel safer than those living in urban areas.

Also, fewer neighbors are gathering nowadays so the distrust may be from a lack of socializing. Fifty-four percent respondents said they do not hold monthly social gatherings with their neighbors, according to the General Social Survey. In 1974, 61 percent of Americans surveyed say they would spend a social evening with a person in their neighborhood at least once a month.

Racial differences also surfaced when researchers looked at neighborly trust. Twenty-seven percent of Hispanics say they trust their neighbors compared to 31 percent of black respondents. On the other hand, 62 percent of white respondents say they trust their neighbors.

Also, younger Americans are less likely than older Americans to trust their neighbors, the survey found.

“However, it’s hard to say whether this is due to younger people’s stage in their life cycle, or because today’s young adults are more distrusting than young adults of past eras,” Pew researchers report.

Source: “Americans Divided on How Much They Trust Their Neighbors,” Pew Research Center (April 13, 2016) and “There Goes the Neighborhood: Do You Trust the Folks Next Door?” RISMedia (April 24, 2016)