Lost in Acculturation? Premigratory Exposure to Democracy and Immigrants’ Political Trust in the United States

Lost in Acculturation? Premigratory Exposure to Democracy and Immigrants’ Political Trust in... Abstract Using data from the 2003 Mexican Values Survey and an innovative approach to capture premigration socialization, this article analyzes the impact of political experience before migration and its interaction with acculturation in shaping Latino immigrants’ attitudes toward government in the United States. Findings show that trust in government in the new host nation is shaped by individuals’ premigratory exposure to democracy during preadult socialization in their countries of origin. Immigrants who were socialized under more democratic regimes exhibit less trust in the national government than do their counterparts socialized under authoritarian systems. We also find a negative effect of acculturation on trust in all levels of government, an effect that is moderated by both premigratory exposure to democracy and by income. Introduction According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2010 roughly 37.6 million immigrants resided in the United States. Almost half of them (17.2 million) migrated from Latin America to the United States as part of the so-called “Third Wave of Immigration.”1 During this same period, many countries in Latin America experienced considerable political transformations as part of an international phenomenon known as the “Third Wave of Democratization” (Huntington, 1991, 1997). Given the confluence of these two international trends, the U.S. experience affords a unique analytical opportunity to examine the relationship between democracy and political attitudes, such as trust, in a real-world setting. It is unique in that two different immigrants with the same national origin may have come to the United States with qualitatively different exposure to democracy before migration. Differences in premigratory exposure to democracy and political freedom will, we argue, have meaningful consequences for immigrants’ attitudes toward politics and government after migration. The extant literature offers two key insights concerning immigrants’ postmigratory attitudes toward their new government. First, studies have shown that first-generation immigrants tend to express more positive attitudes toward government than their second-generation immigrants and natives counterparts (Abrajano & Alvarez, 2010; Maxwell, 2010). Second, research finds that the process of acculturation has a corrosive effect on immigrants’ sentiment toward government (Michelson, 2003, 2007; Wenzel, 2006; but see Dinesen & Hooghe, 2010). Taken together, these findings suggest that immigrants’ postmigratory attitudes toward their new government, although relatively positive at first, will gradually become more negative as the acculturation process unfolds. It remains an empirical question, however, to assess the extent to which acculturation inescapably erodes immigrants’ support for their new host government. In other words, are there individual-level or contextual factors that may shield such attitudes from the potentially corrosive effects of acculturation? To answer these questions, this article investigates the relevance of premigration factors to understanding immigrants’ postmigration attitudes toward government in the United States. Our analyses contribute to the extant literature in three important ways. First, we find that postmigratory political trust in the United States is shaped by the degree of democracy encountered by individuals during their premigratory socialization. Second, we find that such premigratory socialization influences political trust not just at the national level but also at the state and local levels. Finally, we show that the negative effects of acculturation on political trust are attenuated by immigrants’ income level and by their premigratory exposure to democracy. Exposure to Democracy, Immigration, Acculturation, and Political Trust For more than half a century, political scientists have endeavored to understand the relationship between democracy and trust. In their seminal book, The Civic Culture, Almond and Verba (1963) explored the possibility that different political systems are sustained by different political cultures. In keeping with that tradition, one school of thought contends that democracy works more effectively and more efficiently in places with more trusting citizens (Boix & Posner, 1998; Putnam, 1993, 2000). An alternative view, however, suggests that a modicum of skepticism and distrust among the mass public is essential to the health and vibrancy of a democratic polity. Without skepticism, it has been argued, there is a risk that elites will take advantage of naively trusting citizens and misbehave (Hart, 1978; Levi, 1998). Unbridled political trust may also reduce public commitment to civil liberties (Davis & Silver, 2004). Recent work by Cleary and Stokes (2006) argues that “skepticism” rather than “trust” should be the predominant attitude among citizens of a democracy when making significant strides toward democratic consolidation. These authors report empirical evidence from two Latin American countries (Argentina and Mexico) that carry important implications for our study. First, they observe substantial subnational variation in the quality of democracy experienced by residents of Argentina and Mexico. This suggests that analyses such as ours would benefit from using graded rather than dichotomous measures of democracy (Elkins, 2000). Second, Cleary and Stokes (2006) find that, in general, individuals living in regions with relatively higher levels of democracy are less likely to display trusting attitudes toward politicians. Building on this line of inquiry, we believe that studying the influence of premigratory exposure to democracy on postmigratory political attitudes provides unique analytical leverage in explaining the relationship between democracy and political trust. Preadult Exposure to Democracy, Immigration, and Political Trust Over the past four decades, a sizable literature has documented the origins, nature, and consequences of political trust (Anderson & Tverdova, 2003; Chanley, Rudolph & Rahn, 2000; Citrin 1974; Citrin & Green, 1986; Hetherington 1998, 2005; Hetherington & Rudolph, 2015; Keele, 2007; Miller 1974; Rahn & Rudolph, 2002; Rudolph, 2009; Rudolph & Evans, 2005). In one of the most widely referenced treatments of this concept, political trust is conceptualized as a running tally in which individuals consider the degree with which government outcomes comply with citizens’ normative expectations (Hetherington, 2005). Under this view, the trust tally comprises two distinct components, expectations about government performance and assessment of government outcomes. Like many symbolic attitudes, political trust is thought to develop during early socialization experiences and to be updated as new information becomes available. For the vast majority of immigrants, early socialization processes take place outside the United States. We concentrate on preadult socialization because of its primacy effects and its critical role during the development of attitudes toward authorities (Easton and Hess, 1962; Greenstein, 1965; Hess and Torney, 1967; Tedin, 1974; 1980). Some students of socialization argue that “virtually every aspect of adult political behavior can be studied in terms of its preadult antecedents” (Greenstein, 1965: 128). It is important to acknowledge, however, that political socialization is a wide-ranging and multifaceted concept and that the nature of the socialization process may vary across cultures and contexts. There is considerable disagreement in the literature on how the socialization process matters, but there is little disagreement as to whether preadult socialization years are a critical influence on individuals’ adult political behavior. Previous research has shown that premigratory factors affect individuals’ postmigratory political attitudes and behaviors (Black, 1987; Cho, 1999; Finifter & Finifter, 1989; Jones-Correa & Andalon, 2008; McClain et al., 2006; Ramakrishnan, 2005; Wals, 2011; Wals, 2013; White, Nevitte, Blais, Gidengil & Fournier, 2008; Wilson, 1973). Wals (2011) reports, for example, that immigrants’ political trust in the United States is related to their level of political trust in their country of origin. Informed by such findings, we anticipate that immigrants will import both their expectations about government performance and the standards by which they assess such performance. If so, then individuals’ premigratory exposure to different degrees of democracy in their countries of origin should help to explain their levels of postmigratory political trust once in the United States. We hypothesize that immigrants coming from more democratic contexts will express lower levels of trust in government in the United States than their counterparts coming from less democratic contexts (H1). We expect to observe this inverse relationship between premigratory exposure to democracy and postmigratory political trust for a pair of theoretical reasons. Consider first the aspirational motivations that often underlie the decision to migrate. People coming from less democratic contexts may choose to locate themselves in the United States because they aspire to experience greater political freedom. This motivation should not be similarly present among immigrants who have already been exposed to political life in a free and democratic society. Consider next the role of skepticism that pervades many democracies including of course those in transitional stages. If, as Cleary and Stokes (2006) suggest, skepticism is the predominant attitude of citizens in consolidated democracies, then immigrants who were socialized under more democratic regimes should already have learned to be skeptical of government. If so, then immigrants who come from more democratic contexts should be more skeptical of government in the United States from their moment of entry to the country. In the analyses to follow, we test whether premigratory exposure to democracy dampens postmigratory political trust and whether that relationship holds across, national, state, and local levels. Immigration, the Rocky Roads of Acculturation, and Political Trust Cultural psychologists describe immigrants’ experience as one involving dual realities that constantly interact. Immigrants are routinely exposed to customs from both the country of origin and those encountered in the new host country. The confluence of the two worldviews is what defines how these immigrants come to understand the context of the new home and the way they adapt to it (Mahalingam, 2006). The constant interaction between these worldviews lies at the core of a highly complex psychological process that molds an individual’s identity and places it under continuous transformation (Akhtar, 1999). The stage of the immigration process involving the most demanding identity transformation is often referred to as acculturation. Under classic models of acculturation, immigrants to the United States are expected to follow a path of assimilation. In other words, they are expected to give up their respective cultural backgrounds to adopt the English language, to embrace American customs, and to behave like any other native-born American (Park, 1928; 1930). Under an alternative conceptualization of acculturation, assimilation is not the only mode of acculturation (Berry, 1992). More recent treatments of acculturation suggest that there is considerable heterogeneity within ethnic groups concerning the acculturation process (Alba & Nee, 2003). In fact, the psychological, attitudinal, and behavioral changes experienced by immigrants both at the individual and the group levels can lead to four different outcomes: assimilation, separation, integration, and marginalization (Berry, 1992, 1997, 2003). In addition, there is scholarly debate about the appropriate pace and paths of acculturation. Regardless of whether the acculturation process is characterized by the seamless assimilation envisioned by the classic model or by the identity-based conflict of an ethnic competition model, empirical studies suggest that the acculturation process leads to more negative attitudes toward American government. Either model, Michelson (2003) argues, anticipates that immigrants’ level of trust in the American government declines, as they become incorporated into the American polity. Under a classic assimilation model, postmigratory political trust is expected to decline, as immigrants are assimilated and adopt the distrustful outlook that pervades contemporary American political culture. Under an ethnic competition model, Latino immigrants that develop a minority group identity will still come to trust the American government less because they will eventually perceive government as racially oppressive (Michelson, 2007). Informed by these alternative theoretical accounts, we hypothesize that immigrants with higher levels of acculturation will express less favorable attitudes toward U.S. government than immigrants with lower levels of acculturation (H2). Although our general expectation is that acculturation will depress postmigratory trust among immigrants, we have theoretical reasons to believe that this negative impact of acculturation will be moderated by two critical factors. First, we expect that the effects of acculturation will be moderated by premigratory exposure to democracy. As we argued earlier, premigratory exposure to democracy is expected to reduce postmigratory political trust by making immigrants more skeptical of politics. We believe that such skepticism may, in turn, help to inoculate immigrants from the disenchantment that often occurs as a result of the acculturation process. We thus expect that premigratory exposure to democracy will attenuate the negative effects of acculturation on postmigratory political trust. Specifically, we hypothesize that individuals who were exposed to relatively higher levels of democracy before migration should be less likely than their counterparts to experience the negative effects of acculturation (H3). Second, we anticipate that the effects of acculturation will be moderated by immigrants’ level of income. Income is a critical determinant of political participation (Rosenstone & Hansen, 1993; Verba & Nie, 1972; Verba, Schlozman & Brady, 1995). As a result, affluent immigrants enjoy a different political experience than do less affluent ones. The literature offers competing expectations about whether income should attenuate or amplify the effects of acculturation. One the one hand, affluent immigrants are better able to overcome the informational costs of navigating the new political process. They are more likely to have the capacity to absorb the English language, to adopt American customs, and to blend into mainstream America. Affluent immigrants are thus more likely to be shielded from the stigma of belonging to a minority group. From this perspective, one might reasonably expect that individuals with higher levels of income after migration should be less likely than individuals with lower levels of income to experience the negative effects of acculturation. If so, then income should attenuate the negative effects of acculturation on political trust. Alternatively, however, affluent immigrants arguably have a greater ability to blend more seamlessly into American society. From this perspective, one might expect them to more readily adopt the distrustful attitudes toward government that characterize contemporary political culture in America. If so, then income should amplify the negative effects of acculturation on political trust. The question of whether income attenuates or amplifies the effects of acculturation on political trust remains open, and our statistical model will permit us to adjudicate between these competing sets of theoretical expectations. Data and Measurement The empirical analyses that follow rely on the National Bank of Mexico’s (Banamex) Division for Economic and Sociopolitical Studies 2003 Mexican Values Survey (MVS 2003) and the Polity IV data set. The MVS 2003 has two key advantages for the purposes of this study. First, the study contains a sample of 808 first-generation immigrants to the United States. Relatedly, yet perhaps most critically, this sample of first-generation immigrants’ backgrounds encompasses a wide array of national origins from Latin America and the Caribbean.2 Of these first-generation immigrants, 399 were born in Mexico and 408 were born in 19 other identifiable countries.3 One of the respondents did not provide country of origin, and therefore could not be included in the analyses. The portion of the MVS 2003 study fielded in the United States was conducted by Cheskin, a private consulting firm based in Redwood Shores, California. Interviews were administered face-to-face among individuals who consider themselves of Hispanic origin or heritage. Respondents were selected from the five largest markets for first-generation Latinos in the United States, namely: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. Age of respondents ranges from 18 to 79 years, with a mean age of 31.6 years. The modal category for household income is “between 15,000 and 24,999” per year, whereas the modal category for education is “complete secondary school (technical/vocational type).” Finally, 49.5% of the respondents are female. For a complete description of the study, see Moreno (2005, pp. 205–206). For further detail on the demographic composition of the sample, please see the descriptive statistics provided in Supplementary Appendix Table A. With an approach developed by Wals (2006, 2009) that takes advantage of available data from the survey regarding immigrants’ country of origin, age on arrival, and year of arrival in the United States, combined with information from the Polity IV data set, which records countries’ degrees of democracy over time, we constructed a measure of immigrants’ premigratory exposure to democracy. For further details on the operationalization of our concept of imported socialization, see below. To test our theoretical expectations, our statistical models analyze three different dependent variables. Using survey data from the MVS 2003, we use three distinct indicators of political trust. Respondents were asked “how much trust do you have” in three different levels of government, that is, the federal government in Washington, the state government, and the local city or county government. Responses to these instruments were coded along a four-point scale such that higher values denote greater political trust. It should be noted, once again, that all three indicators constitute postmigratory measures of political trust. Our empirical analyses rely on three main independent variables: imported socialization, acculturation, and income. As noted above, our measure of imported socialization is constructed based on immigrants’ premigratory exposure to different degrees of democracy in their country of origin at the time of their preadult socialization. Specifically, we calculated an imported socialization score for each respondent based on an average of the Polity IV scores from their country of origin, given both the individual’s age on arrival in the United States and the year of arrival in the United States. To reflect only the preadult socialization process, our measure solely takes into consideration up to the first 18 years of life of the respondents’ country of origin Polity IV scores. If the respondent, for instance, left the country of origin at age 15 years, our measure is calculated considering only the 15 years that this individual was exposed to different degrees of democracy in the sending country during those years of early socialization. Given the original range of the Polity IV scores, our imported socialization measure has a conceptual minimum value of negative 10 and a maximum of positive 10.4 To clarify further how our measure is able to capture individual variance, let us think of a couple of hypothetical respondents. First, let us take an individual born in Argentina in 1960 who came to the United States at age 20 years in 1980. According to the Polity IV data set, Argentina was an authoritarian regime with a score of negative one in 1960 when this individual was born. The political conditions under which she grew up deteriorated (reaching a negative 9) in 1967, experienced a brief upward trend between 1974 and 1976 (getting a positive 6), only to worsen drastically again (falling to a negative 9) in 1977. Those conditions (negative 9) remained until 1980, as she decided to leave Argentina behind and migrated to the United States. Following this illustration, it should be clear that immigrant “A” would have been exposed to an authoritarian regime (in this case of military nature) during most of her early socialization years, and accordingly, our individualized imported socialization should be able to capture that individual negative exposure. To calculate an imported socialization score for this Argentine immigrant following the story above, we would need to compute the first 6 years of her life at negative 1, the next 7 years at negative 9, then 3 years at positive 6, and the final 2 years of the early socialization years (ending at age 18 years) at negative 9. The sum of those experiences renders a negative 69, which then would be divided by 18 (number of years). The imported socialization score computed for this hypothetical Argentine immigrant results in a negative 3.833, and was computed as follows: [((6)*(−1))+((7)*(−9))+((3)*(6))+((2)*(−9))]/18=3.833. In contrast, consider another 20-year-old immigrant also from Argentina but who was born in 1983, right around the beginning of the democratization process, and who came to the United States in 2003. According to the Polity IV data set, Argentina transitioned from an authoritarian regime (negative 8) in 1983 to a considerably democratic one (positive 8) in 1984. This nascent democracy has remained remarkably stable since, with only a minor setback (scoring positive 7 instead of positive 8) between the years of 1989 and 1999. Therefore, it can be argued that the socialization experience of Immigrant B compared with that of Immigrant A was significantly more positive in terms of exposure to democracy during her early socialization years. Our measure, in turn, should capture such a difference. This is indeed the case. Immigrant “B” would be assigned a positive score of 7.388, calculated as follows. Compute the first 5 years of this immigrant’s life at positive 8, the next 11 years at positive 7, and the final 2 years of the early socialization years (ending at age 18 years) again at positive 8. The sum of those experiences renders a positive 133, which then would be divided by 18 (number of years). [((5)*(8))+((11)*(7))+((2)*(8))]/18 = 7.388. An alternative to assess the effects of premigratory exposure to democracy on postmigratory attitudes could have been the use of a hierarchical linear model analysis, but this individualized measure, we argue, is a better approach because our imported socialization construct does not intend to capture country-level variations in democracy per se. Our measure is designed to capture the individual’s exposure to democracy during the early socialization years. Therefore, we consider this a more valid construct and approach reflecting that, though from the same country of origin, the socialization experience of two individuals can potentially be significantly different in terms of their exposure to democracy before migrating to the United States. Supplementary Table B displays how much variance the imported socialization construct captures among immigrants from the same country of origin for each of the 20 countries of origin available to this study. Our measure of acculturation is an additive index based on responses to questions regarding (1) primary language spoken at home, (2) language in which the interview was conducted, and (3) preferred language for media consumption (TV and radio). Although there are alternative measures of acculturation (Andrews, Bridges & Gomez, 2013; Berry, 1997, 2003), data availability constraints do not allow us to test our hypotheses with a multifaceted measure. Our one-dimensional measure, however, effectively captures the acquisition and common use of the host country’s language. Furthermore, an immigrant’s dominant language is often used as an empirical proxy for the degree of acculturation (DeFrancesco Soto & Merolla, 2006; Finch & Vega 2003). Income is measured using a self-reported item that reflects household income in thousands of dollars per year. To test whether the effects of acculturation are moderated by premigratory exposure to democracy and income, our models include a pair of two-way interactions, acculturation x imported socialization and acculturation x income. Our models also include controls for immigrants’ time of residence in the United States, education, political interest, political efficacy, interpersonal trust, race/ethnicity, and sex. All the variables were recoded into the same scale, ranging from 0 to 1, for comparative purposes. The imported socialization measure is recoded to range from −1 to 1. Empirical Results The results of our model are reported in Tables 1–3.5Table 1 reports the results of an ordered probit model designed to explain Latino immigrants’ trust in the national government. The first data column shows the direct effect of each explanatory variable. In the second data column, we interacted acculturation with income and imported socialization to test whether its effects are moderated as we hypothesized. Table 2 presents the results of two identically specified models designed to explain their level of trust in state government. Finally, Table 3 presents the determinants of trust in government at the local level. Table 1 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in National Government Trust in national government Trust in national government Income 0.05 –0.45 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.24 –0.26 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.79** 0.80** (0.14) (0.14) Years in the United States 0.25 0.35 (0.46) (0.46) Imported socialization –0.14* –0.29** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.55** –0.91** (0.14) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 1.04* (0.49) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.32* (0.18) Female –0.04 –0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.07 –0.05 (0.11) (0.11) Political efficacy 0.76** 0.75** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.11 0.15 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.33 0.36 (0.39) (0.39) Asian –1.37 –1.21 (0.92) (0.92) Other 0.34 0.39 (0.43) (0.43) Log likelihood –824.0 –820.5 χ2 for LR test 96.7** 103.9** Number of cases 692 692 Trust in national government Trust in national government Income 0.05 –0.45 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.24 –0.26 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.79** 0.80** (0.14) (0.14) Years in the United States 0.25 0.35 (0.46) (0.46) Imported socialization –0.14* –0.29** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.55** –0.91** (0.14) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 1.04* (0.49) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.32* (0.18) Female –0.04 –0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.07 –0.05 (0.11) (0.11) Political efficacy 0.76** 0.75** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.11 0.15 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.33 0.36 (0.39) (0.39) Asian –1.37 –1.21 (0.92) (0.92) Other 0.34 0.39 (0.43) (0.43) Log likelihood –824.0 –820.5 χ2 for LR test 96.7** 103.9** Number of cases 692 692 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. Table 1 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in National Government Trust in national government Trust in national government Income 0.05 –0.45 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.24 –0.26 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.79** 0.80** (0.14) (0.14) Years in the United States 0.25 0.35 (0.46) (0.46) Imported socialization –0.14* –0.29** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.55** –0.91** (0.14) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 1.04* (0.49) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.32* (0.18) Female –0.04 –0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.07 –0.05 (0.11) (0.11) Political efficacy 0.76** 0.75** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.11 0.15 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.33 0.36 (0.39) (0.39) Asian –1.37 –1.21 (0.92) (0.92) Other 0.34 0.39 (0.43) (0.43) Log likelihood –824.0 –820.5 χ2 for LR test 96.7** 103.9** Number of cases 692 692 Trust in national government Trust in national government Income 0.05 –0.45 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.24 –0.26 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.79** 0.80** (0.14) (0.14) Years in the United States 0.25 0.35 (0.46) (0.46) Imported socialization –0.14* –0.29** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.55** –0.91** (0.14) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 1.04* (0.49) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.32* (0.18) Female –0.04 –0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.07 –0.05 (0.11) (0.11) Political efficacy 0.76** 0.75** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.11 0.15 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.33 0.36 (0.39) (0.39) Asian –1.37 –1.21 (0.92) (0.92) Other 0.34 0.39 (0.43) (0.43) Log likelihood –824.0 –820.5 χ2 for LR test 96.7** 103.9** Number of cases 692 692 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. Table 2 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in State Government Trust in state government Trust in state government Income –0.21 –0.63* (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.18 –0.20 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.64** 0.65** (0.14) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.23 0.31 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.27* (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.54** –0.82** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.85* (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.37* (0.18) Female 0.01 0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.11 –0.09 (0.10) (0.10) Political efficacy 0.64** 0.63** (0.16) (0.16) Black –0.04 –0.01 (0.43) (0.43) Hispanic 0.12 0.15 (0.38) (0.38) Asian –0.80 –0.67 (0.88) (0.88) Other 0.12 0.16 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –848.9 –845.6 χ2 for LR test 74.4** 81.1** Number of cases 696 696 Trust in state government Trust in state government Income –0.21 –0.63* (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.18 –0.20 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.64** 0.65** (0.14) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.23 0.31 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.27* (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.54** –0.82** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.85* (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.37* (0.18) Female 0.01 0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.11 –0.09 (0.10) (0.10) Political efficacy 0.64** 0.63** (0.16) (0.16) Black –0.04 –0.01 (0.43) (0.43) Hispanic 0.12 0.15 (0.38) (0.38) Asian –0.80 –0.67 (0.88) (0.88) Other 0.12 0.16 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –848.9 –845.6 χ2 for LR test 74.4** 81.1** Number of cases 696 696 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. Table 2 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in State Government Trust in state government Trust in state government Income –0.21 –0.63* (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.18 –0.20 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.64** 0.65** (0.14) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.23 0.31 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.27* (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.54** –0.82** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.85* (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.37* (0.18) Female 0.01 0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.11 –0.09 (0.10) (0.10) Political efficacy 0.64** 0.63** (0.16) (0.16) Black –0.04 –0.01 (0.43) (0.43) Hispanic 0.12 0.15 (0.38) (0.38) Asian –0.80 –0.67 (0.88) (0.88) Other 0.12 0.16 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –848.9 –845.6 χ2 for LR test 74.4** 81.1** Number of cases 696 696 Trust in state government Trust in state government Income –0.21 –0.63* (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.18 –0.20 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.64** 0.65** (0.14) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.23 0.31 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.27* (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.54** –0.82** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.85* (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.37* (0.18) Female 0.01 0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.11 –0.09 (0.10) (0.10) Political efficacy 0.64** 0.63** (0.16) (0.16) Black –0.04 –0.01 (0.43) (0.43) Hispanic 0.12 0.15 (0.38) (0.38) Asian –0.80 –0.67 (0.88) (0.88) Other 0.12 0.16 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –848.9 –845.6 χ2 for LR test 74.4** 81.1** Number of cases 696 696 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. Table 3 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in Local Government Trust in local government Trust in local government Income –0.02 –0.33 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.31* –0.32 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.71** 0.72** (0.13) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.16 0.22 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.30** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.50** –0.68** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.59 (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.46* (0.18) Female 0.11 0.12 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.09 (0.11) –0.07 (0.11) Political efficacy 0.58** 0.57** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.64 0.65 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.55 0.57 (0.38) (0.38) Asian 0.36 0.50 (0.90) (0.89) Other 0.43 0.45 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –850.9 –847.1 χ2 for LR test 74.5** 82.1** Number of cases 693 693 Trust in local government Trust in local government Income –0.02 –0.33 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.31* –0.32 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.71** 0.72** (0.13) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.16 0.22 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.30** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.50** –0.68** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.59 (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.46* (0.18) Female 0.11 0.12 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.09 (0.11) –0.07 (0.11) Political efficacy 0.58** 0.57** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.64 0.65 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.55 0.57 (0.38) (0.38) Asian 0.36 0.50 (0.90) (0.89) Other 0.43 0.45 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –850.9 –847.1 χ2 for LR test 74.5** 82.1** Number of cases 693 693 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. Table 3 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in Local Government Trust in local government Trust in local government Income –0.02 –0.33 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.31* –0.32 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.71** 0.72** (0.13) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.16 0.22 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.30** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.50** –0.68** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.59 (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.46* (0.18) Female 0.11 0.12 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.09 (0.11) –0.07 (0.11) Political efficacy 0.58** 0.57** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.64 0.65 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.55 0.57 (0.38) (0.38) Asian 0.36 0.50 (0.90) (0.89) Other 0.43 0.45 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –850.9 –847.1 χ2 for LR test 74.5** 82.1** Number of cases 693 693 Trust in local government Trust in local government Income –0.02 –0.33 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.31* –0.32 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.71** 0.72** (0.13) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.16 0.22 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.30** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.50** –0.68** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.59 (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.46* (0.18) Female 0.11 0.12 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.09 (0.11) –0.07 (0.11) Political efficacy 0.58** 0.57** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.64 0.65 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.55 0.57 (0.38) (0.38) Asian 0.36 0.50 (0.90) (0.89) Other 0.43 0.45 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –850.9 –847.1 χ2 for LR test 74.5** 82.1** Number of cases 693 693 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. We begin by considering the effects of the control variables. We first observe that the coefficient denoting years lived in the United States is statistically indistinguishable from 0 in all three models. This null result indicates that the sheer amount of time Latino immigrants have spent living in the United States has no discernible impact on their level of trust in government at the national, state, or local levels. As we explain later, time alone is unimportant; it is what one does with that time that matters. Similarly, income has no direct effect on trust in government at any of the three levels of government. Education also fails to exert much influence on trust in government. Although education is inversely related to trust in local government (−0.31, p < .05), it is inconsequential at both the national and state levels. Political interest, in contrast, has a consistently strong impact on trust in government. Trust in government is positively associated with political interest at the national, state, and local levels (0.79, p < .01; 0.64, p < .01; 0.71, p < .01). Similarly, political trust is positively associated with political efficacy across all three levels of government (0.76, p < .01; 0.64, p < .01; 0.58, p < .01). We turn next to the effects of imported socialization. Here, we test whether the degree of democracy to which individuals are exposed during their premigration socialization process shapes attitudes toward government after their arrival in the United States. Immigrants with premigration exposure to more democratic contexts over time are expected to express less faith in government (H1). The results of our analysis offer qualified support for that expectation. The coefficient representing imported socialization is negatively signed across all three models and achieves statistical significance in the national model (−0.14, p < .05). Although negatively signed, the coefficients for imported socialization are only marginally significant in the state and local models (−0.10, p < .10, and −0.10, p < .10). Taken together, these results suggest that premigratory exposure to democracy is negatively associated with postmigratory political trust, particularly at the national level. Consider next the effects of acculturation. Trust in government was hypothesized to be weaker among immigrants who were better acculturated to life in the United States (H2). That is precisely what we observe in Table 1. The coefficient for acculturation is both negatively signed and statistically significant (−0.55, p < .01). This finding lends empirical credence to the idea that becoming more accustomed to the English language and to American culture makes one look less favorably on government. As shown in Tables 2 and 3, this phenomenon is not limited to attitudes toward the national government. Acculturation, we find, is also associated with less trust in government at the state and local levels (−0.54, p < .01; −0.50, p < .01). Our results thus far have provided consistent evidence of a negative association between acculturation and trust in government. Of central interest in our analysis is the question of whether that negative relationship holds across all individuals. In particular, we seek to determine whether the effects of acculturation are moderated by premigratory exposure to different degrees of democracy over time and by postmigratory levels of income. We have argued that the effects of acculturation should be moderated by the level of democracy in one’s country of origin. Specifically, we hypothesized that the negative effects of acculturation should be attenuated among those who were already accustomed to living in a democratic society before immigration (H3). If so, we should observe a positively signed interaction between acculturation and imported socialization. As shown in the second data columns of Tables 1, 2, and 3, the interaction in question is consistently positive and statistically significant (0.32, p < .05; 0.37, p < .05; 0.46, p < .05). This implies that the negative effects of acculturation are, as expected, diminished among those individuals who were exposed to relatively more democratic contexts before migrating to the United States. To illustrate the magnitude of these interactions, Figures 1a, 2a, and 3a visually depict the effects of acculturation on trust in government by imported socialization. Among those who were exposed to lower levels of democracy in their countries of origin during their socialization experiences, a one-unit increase in acculturation reduces the likelihood of trust in national government by 30 percentage points. At the state and local levels, the effects of this shift in acculturation are 28 and 31 percentage points, respectively. Among those who were exposed to higher levels of democracy, however, the negative impact of acculturation on confidence is markedly smaller. At the national level, a one-unit increase in acculturation lowers the predicted probability of confidence by only 15 percentage points. At the state and local levels, the effect is even smaller at 12 and 7 percentage points, respectively. Collectively, these results demonstrate that the effects of acculturation are not uniform across individuals and vary according to immigrants’ experiences before emigration. Figure 1 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in national government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in national government by acculturation and income. Figure 1 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in national government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in national government by acculturation and income. Figure 2 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in state government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in state government by acculturation and income Figure 2 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in state government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in state government by acculturation and income Figure 3 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in local government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in local government by acculturation and income Figure 3 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in local government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in local government by acculturation and income We also posed the question of whether the negative effects of acculturation are attenuated or amplified among the affluent. If attenuated, then we should observe a positively signed interaction between acculturation and income. If amplified, we should observe a negatively signed interaction. The results are consistent with the former scenario. The interaction between acculturation and income is positively signed in all three models and is statistically reliable at the national level (1.04, p < .05) and at the state level (0.85, p < .05). These positive interactions work to mitigate the negative effect of acculturation on trust in government. The conditional impact of acculturation on trust in government is again most readily apparent when viewed graphically. Figure 1b plots the predicted probabilities of confidence in national government by acculturation and income. Figures 2b and 3b present the same information at the state and local levels. As these figures make clear, the interaction between acculturation and income is substantively as well as statistically significant. Among those with low levels of income, increasing acculturation from its minimum to its maximum value decreases the probability of trust in national government by 33 percentage points. Among those with high levels of income, however, this same shift in acculturation decreases the likelihood of trust by 12 percentage points. At the state level, a similarly sized shock to acculturation decreases trust by 30 percentage points among low-income immigrants. Among the affluent, however, the effect of acculturation decreases trust by 12 percentage points. Although the interaction at the local level just fails to reach statistical significance, the negative slope for acculturation is visibly steeper among those with low income than it is among the affluent. Discussion Political scientists have debated, intensely at times, the nature of the relationship between democracy and individuals’ feelings toward government. The massive influx of individuals coming from Latin America to the United States over the past few decades provides a pseudo natural experiment which we can exploit for theoretical advantage. Such immigrants were exposed, although perhaps nonrandomly, to different treatments of democracy in their countries of origin, as they were socialized into politics. These individuals then crossed nations’ borders and found a new home in the United States, a long-standing consolidated democracy. As expected, we found that immigrants’ premigratory exposure to democracy reduced postmigratory levels of trust in the federal government in the United States. This suggests that more democratic contexts, particularly those still lacking consolidation, are more likely to produce and export less trusting individuals than are less democratic environments. Exploiting a novel data set and an innovative measure of premigratory (imported) socialization, this article contributes new insight into the connection between exposure to premigratory political context and the postmigratory political experience. Paraphrasing Lippmann’s (1922) work, this study represents one of the first scholarly efforts to connect two pseudo-environments: the one formed in immigrants’ minds, as they were socialized into politics in their countries of origin, and the new pseudo-environment formed in immigrants’ minds following migration through the rocky roads of acculturation. Our study is not, of course, without limitations. First, our inferences about the relationship between premigratory exposure to democracy and postmigratory political trust could be strengthened by examining whether that relationship exists among first-generation immigrants from other regions of the world. Second, future work in this area might improve on our analysis by incorporating more multifaceted measures of acculturation. Third, our analysis would have benefitted from including a measure of immigrants’ level of political trust in their country of origin, as premigratory political trust is a potential confounder of the association between socialization and postmigratory trust. Finally, the expectations derived from H3 would ideally be tested using panel data. With a two-wave panel, for example, it would be possible to monitor individuals’ political attitudes and political engagement before migration, and then again sometime after migration once those individuals have become more fully entrenched as residents of the United States. Absent such an idealized data set, one must make due with available alternatives. We believe that our construct of imported socialization provides an important step forward in understanding the link between premigratory exposure to democracy and postmigration political behavior. This study also contributes important insights to the literatures on acculturation and political incorporation. Previous studies have suggested that the effects of acculturation on immigrants’ attitudes toward the new host political system are uniformly corrosive across individuals (Michelson, 2003, 2007). Our results also indicate that acculturation helps to erode political trust. In a nation of immigrants, such findings could, from a normative standpoint, be used to construe a rather pessimistic outlook. On a more optimistic note, however, our results indicate that the rocky roads of acculturation are not equally rough for all individuals. We find that the negative effects of acculturation are most acute among immigrants with low levels of income and among those who were exposed to less democratic contexts, as they were socialized into politics in their countries of origin. This pair of findings has important implications concerning future outreach efforts targeting this new electorate (DeSipio, 1996). Our results have implications for policymakers as well. As they weigh the merits of various immigration reform proposals, lawmakers may wish to contemplate how particular reforms may regulate the influence of acculturation on immigrants’ attitudes toward their new government. Sergio C. Wals is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Institute for Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research interests include public opinion, political psychology, political behavior, immigration, race and ethnicity, democratization, and Latin American politics. Thomas J. Rudolph is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include public opinion, political psychology, and political behavior. Supplementary Data Supplementary Data are available at IJPOR online. Footnotes 1The breakdown by decade of these first-generation Latino immigrants is as follows: 4.2 million (20.5%) arrived in the United States during the 1980s; 6 million (29.2%) arrived during the 1990s; and 7 million more (34.8%) during the 2000s. 2Nine of these first-generation immigrants come from Spain. People from Spain also experienced a political transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one during the Third Wave. Also, these individuals share some cultural background with immigrants from Latin America, despite their European ancestry, are likely to experience similar prejudice than Latino immigrants in the United States because of their use of the Spanish language. We have, therefore, no reason to believe that either the imported socialization process or acculturation operates in a critically distinct manner among these individuals, so we decided to include them in our empirical analyses. 3For a complete list of the 20 countries of origin, please see Supplementary Appendix Table A. 4The actual observed original values range from negative 9 to positive 10. In our empirical analyses, however, the imported socialization variable was recoded to range from 0 to 1 for comparative purposes. 5In response to reviewer’s suggestion, we created a three-item scale of political trust using the national, state, and local instruments. These three instruments created a sufficiently reliable scale of political trust (α = 0.92). We then estimated our model using this three-item scale as the dependent variable. We report the results of that model in Supplementary Table C. The results produced when using one three-item measure of political trust are quantitatively similar and qualitatively identical to those produced when using three one-item measures of political trust. Consistent with our expectations, acculturation and premigratory exposure to democracy are negatively associated with political trust. 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Immigrants’ imported ideology and political engagement . Electoral Studies , 32 , 756 – 767 . doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2013.05.032 Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Wenzel J. P. ( 2006 ). Acculturation effects on trust in national and local government among Mexican Americans . Social Science Quarterly , 87 , 1073 – 1087 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS White S. , Nevitte N. , Blais A. , Gidengil E. , Fournier P. ( 2008 ). The political resocialization of immigrants: Resistance or lifelong learning? Political Research Quarterly , 61 , 268 – 281 . doi: 10.1177/1065912908314713 Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Wilson P. R. ( 1973 ). Immigrants and politics . Canberra, AU : Australian National University Press . © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The World Association for Public Opinion Research. All rights reserved. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Public Opinion Research Oxford University Press

Lost in Acculturation? Premigratory Exposure to Democracy and Immigrants’ Political Trust in the United States

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The World Association for Public Opinion Research. All rights reserved.
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0954-2892
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1471-6909
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10.1093/ijpor/edy002
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Abstract

Abstract Using data from the 2003 Mexican Values Survey and an innovative approach to capture premigration socialization, this article analyzes the impact of political experience before migration and its interaction with acculturation in shaping Latino immigrants’ attitudes toward government in the United States. Findings show that trust in government in the new host nation is shaped by individuals’ premigratory exposure to democracy during preadult socialization in their countries of origin. Immigrants who were socialized under more democratic regimes exhibit less trust in the national government than do their counterparts socialized under authoritarian systems. We also find a negative effect of acculturation on trust in all levels of government, an effect that is moderated by both premigratory exposure to democracy and by income. Introduction According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2010 roughly 37.6 million immigrants resided in the United States. Almost half of them (17.2 million) migrated from Latin America to the United States as part of the so-called “Third Wave of Immigration.”1 During this same period, many countries in Latin America experienced considerable political transformations as part of an international phenomenon known as the “Third Wave of Democratization” (Huntington, 1991, 1997). Given the confluence of these two international trends, the U.S. experience affords a unique analytical opportunity to examine the relationship between democracy and political attitudes, such as trust, in a real-world setting. It is unique in that two different immigrants with the same national origin may have come to the United States with qualitatively different exposure to democracy before migration. Differences in premigratory exposure to democracy and political freedom will, we argue, have meaningful consequences for immigrants’ attitudes toward politics and government after migration. The extant literature offers two key insights concerning immigrants’ postmigratory attitudes toward their new government. First, studies have shown that first-generation immigrants tend to express more positive attitudes toward government than their second-generation immigrants and natives counterparts (Abrajano & Alvarez, 2010; Maxwell, 2010). Second, research finds that the process of acculturation has a corrosive effect on immigrants’ sentiment toward government (Michelson, 2003, 2007; Wenzel, 2006; but see Dinesen & Hooghe, 2010). Taken together, these findings suggest that immigrants’ postmigratory attitudes toward their new government, although relatively positive at first, will gradually become more negative as the acculturation process unfolds. It remains an empirical question, however, to assess the extent to which acculturation inescapably erodes immigrants’ support for their new host government. In other words, are there individual-level or contextual factors that may shield such attitudes from the potentially corrosive effects of acculturation? To answer these questions, this article investigates the relevance of premigration factors to understanding immigrants’ postmigration attitudes toward government in the United States. Our analyses contribute to the extant literature in three important ways. First, we find that postmigratory political trust in the United States is shaped by the degree of democracy encountered by individuals during their premigratory socialization. Second, we find that such premigratory socialization influences political trust not just at the national level but also at the state and local levels. Finally, we show that the negative effects of acculturation on political trust are attenuated by immigrants’ income level and by their premigratory exposure to democracy. Exposure to Democracy, Immigration, Acculturation, and Political Trust For more than half a century, political scientists have endeavored to understand the relationship between democracy and trust. In their seminal book, The Civic Culture, Almond and Verba (1963) explored the possibility that different political systems are sustained by different political cultures. In keeping with that tradition, one school of thought contends that democracy works more effectively and more efficiently in places with more trusting citizens (Boix & Posner, 1998; Putnam, 1993, 2000). An alternative view, however, suggests that a modicum of skepticism and distrust among the mass public is essential to the health and vibrancy of a democratic polity. Without skepticism, it has been argued, there is a risk that elites will take advantage of naively trusting citizens and misbehave (Hart, 1978; Levi, 1998). Unbridled political trust may also reduce public commitment to civil liberties (Davis & Silver, 2004). Recent work by Cleary and Stokes (2006) argues that “skepticism” rather than “trust” should be the predominant attitude among citizens of a democracy when making significant strides toward democratic consolidation. These authors report empirical evidence from two Latin American countries (Argentina and Mexico) that carry important implications for our study. First, they observe substantial subnational variation in the quality of democracy experienced by residents of Argentina and Mexico. This suggests that analyses such as ours would benefit from using graded rather than dichotomous measures of democracy (Elkins, 2000). Second, Cleary and Stokes (2006) find that, in general, individuals living in regions with relatively higher levels of democracy are less likely to display trusting attitudes toward politicians. Building on this line of inquiry, we believe that studying the influence of premigratory exposure to democracy on postmigratory political attitudes provides unique analytical leverage in explaining the relationship between democracy and political trust. Preadult Exposure to Democracy, Immigration, and Political Trust Over the past four decades, a sizable literature has documented the origins, nature, and consequences of political trust (Anderson & Tverdova, 2003; Chanley, Rudolph & Rahn, 2000; Citrin 1974; Citrin & Green, 1986; Hetherington 1998, 2005; Hetherington & Rudolph, 2015; Keele, 2007; Miller 1974; Rahn & Rudolph, 2002; Rudolph, 2009; Rudolph & Evans, 2005). In one of the most widely referenced treatments of this concept, political trust is conceptualized as a running tally in which individuals consider the degree with which government outcomes comply with citizens’ normative expectations (Hetherington, 2005). Under this view, the trust tally comprises two distinct components, expectations about government performance and assessment of government outcomes. Like many symbolic attitudes, political trust is thought to develop during early socialization experiences and to be updated as new information becomes available. For the vast majority of immigrants, early socialization processes take place outside the United States. We concentrate on preadult socialization because of its primacy effects and its critical role during the development of attitudes toward authorities (Easton and Hess, 1962; Greenstein, 1965; Hess and Torney, 1967; Tedin, 1974; 1980). Some students of socialization argue that “virtually every aspect of adult political behavior can be studied in terms of its preadult antecedents” (Greenstein, 1965: 128). It is important to acknowledge, however, that political socialization is a wide-ranging and multifaceted concept and that the nature of the socialization process may vary across cultures and contexts. There is considerable disagreement in the literature on how the socialization process matters, but there is little disagreement as to whether preadult socialization years are a critical influence on individuals’ adult political behavior. Previous research has shown that premigratory factors affect individuals’ postmigratory political attitudes and behaviors (Black, 1987; Cho, 1999; Finifter & Finifter, 1989; Jones-Correa & Andalon, 2008; McClain et al., 2006; Ramakrishnan, 2005; Wals, 2011; Wals, 2013; White, Nevitte, Blais, Gidengil & Fournier, 2008; Wilson, 1973). Wals (2011) reports, for example, that immigrants’ political trust in the United States is related to their level of political trust in their country of origin. Informed by such findings, we anticipate that immigrants will import both their expectations about government performance and the standards by which they assess such performance. If so, then individuals’ premigratory exposure to different degrees of democracy in their countries of origin should help to explain their levels of postmigratory political trust once in the United States. We hypothesize that immigrants coming from more democratic contexts will express lower levels of trust in government in the United States than their counterparts coming from less democratic contexts (H1). We expect to observe this inverse relationship between premigratory exposure to democracy and postmigratory political trust for a pair of theoretical reasons. Consider first the aspirational motivations that often underlie the decision to migrate. People coming from less democratic contexts may choose to locate themselves in the United States because they aspire to experience greater political freedom. This motivation should not be similarly present among immigrants who have already been exposed to political life in a free and democratic society. Consider next the role of skepticism that pervades many democracies including of course those in transitional stages. If, as Cleary and Stokes (2006) suggest, skepticism is the predominant attitude of citizens in consolidated democracies, then immigrants who were socialized under more democratic regimes should already have learned to be skeptical of government. If so, then immigrants who come from more democratic contexts should be more skeptical of government in the United States from their moment of entry to the country. In the analyses to follow, we test whether premigratory exposure to democracy dampens postmigratory political trust and whether that relationship holds across, national, state, and local levels. Immigration, the Rocky Roads of Acculturation, and Political Trust Cultural psychologists describe immigrants’ experience as one involving dual realities that constantly interact. Immigrants are routinely exposed to customs from both the country of origin and those encountered in the new host country. The confluence of the two worldviews is what defines how these immigrants come to understand the context of the new home and the way they adapt to it (Mahalingam, 2006). The constant interaction between these worldviews lies at the core of a highly complex psychological process that molds an individual’s identity and places it under continuous transformation (Akhtar, 1999). The stage of the immigration process involving the most demanding identity transformation is often referred to as acculturation. Under classic models of acculturation, immigrants to the United States are expected to follow a path of assimilation. In other words, they are expected to give up their respective cultural backgrounds to adopt the English language, to embrace American customs, and to behave like any other native-born American (Park, 1928; 1930). Under an alternative conceptualization of acculturation, assimilation is not the only mode of acculturation (Berry, 1992). More recent treatments of acculturation suggest that there is considerable heterogeneity within ethnic groups concerning the acculturation process (Alba & Nee, 2003). In fact, the psychological, attitudinal, and behavioral changes experienced by immigrants both at the individual and the group levels can lead to four different outcomes: assimilation, separation, integration, and marginalization (Berry, 1992, 1997, 2003). In addition, there is scholarly debate about the appropriate pace and paths of acculturation. Regardless of whether the acculturation process is characterized by the seamless assimilation envisioned by the classic model or by the identity-based conflict of an ethnic competition model, empirical studies suggest that the acculturation process leads to more negative attitudes toward American government. Either model, Michelson (2003) argues, anticipates that immigrants’ level of trust in the American government declines, as they become incorporated into the American polity. Under a classic assimilation model, postmigratory political trust is expected to decline, as immigrants are assimilated and adopt the distrustful outlook that pervades contemporary American political culture. Under an ethnic competition model, Latino immigrants that develop a minority group identity will still come to trust the American government less because they will eventually perceive government as racially oppressive (Michelson, 2007). Informed by these alternative theoretical accounts, we hypothesize that immigrants with higher levels of acculturation will express less favorable attitudes toward U.S. government than immigrants with lower levels of acculturation (H2). Although our general expectation is that acculturation will depress postmigratory trust among immigrants, we have theoretical reasons to believe that this negative impact of acculturation will be moderated by two critical factors. First, we expect that the effects of acculturation will be moderated by premigratory exposure to democracy. As we argued earlier, premigratory exposure to democracy is expected to reduce postmigratory political trust by making immigrants more skeptical of politics. We believe that such skepticism may, in turn, help to inoculate immigrants from the disenchantment that often occurs as a result of the acculturation process. We thus expect that premigratory exposure to democracy will attenuate the negative effects of acculturation on postmigratory political trust. Specifically, we hypothesize that individuals who were exposed to relatively higher levels of democracy before migration should be less likely than their counterparts to experience the negative effects of acculturation (H3). Second, we anticipate that the effects of acculturation will be moderated by immigrants’ level of income. Income is a critical determinant of political participation (Rosenstone & Hansen, 1993; Verba & Nie, 1972; Verba, Schlozman & Brady, 1995). As a result, affluent immigrants enjoy a different political experience than do less affluent ones. The literature offers competing expectations about whether income should attenuate or amplify the effects of acculturation. One the one hand, affluent immigrants are better able to overcome the informational costs of navigating the new political process. They are more likely to have the capacity to absorb the English language, to adopt American customs, and to blend into mainstream America. Affluent immigrants are thus more likely to be shielded from the stigma of belonging to a minority group. From this perspective, one might reasonably expect that individuals with higher levels of income after migration should be less likely than individuals with lower levels of income to experience the negative effects of acculturation. If so, then income should attenuate the negative effects of acculturation on political trust. Alternatively, however, affluent immigrants arguably have a greater ability to blend more seamlessly into American society. From this perspective, one might expect them to more readily adopt the distrustful attitudes toward government that characterize contemporary political culture in America. If so, then income should amplify the negative effects of acculturation on political trust. The question of whether income attenuates or amplifies the effects of acculturation on political trust remains open, and our statistical model will permit us to adjudicate between these competing sets of theoretical expectations. Data and Measurement The empirical analyses that follow rely on the National Bank of Mexico’s (Banamex) Division for Economic and Sociopolitical Studies 2003 Mexican Values Survey (MVS 2003) and the Polity IV data set. The MVS 2003 has two key advantages for the purposes of this study. First, the study contains a sample of 808 first-generation immigrants to the United States. Relatedly, yet perhaps most critically, this sample of first-generation immigrants’ backgrounds encompasses a wide array of national origins from Latin America and the Caribbean.2 Of these first-generation immigrants, 399 were born in Mexico and 408 were born in 19 other identifiable countries.3 One of the respondents did not provide country of origin, and therefore could not be included in the analyses. The portion of the MVS 2003 study fielded in the United States was conducted by Cheskin, a private consulting firm based in Redwood Shores, California. Interviews were administered face-to-face among individuals who consider themselves of Hispanic origin or heritage. Respondents were selected from the five largest markets for first-generation Latinos in the United States, namely: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. Age of respondents ranges from 18 to 79 years, with a mean age of 31.6 years. The modal category for household income is “between 15,000 and 24,999” per year, whereas the modal category for education is “complete secondary school (technical/vocational type).” Finally, 49.5% of the respondents are female. For a complete description of the study, see Moreno (2005, pp. 205–206). For further detail on the demographic composition of the sample, please see the descriptive statistics provided in Supplementary Appendix Table A. With an approach developed by Wals (2006, 2009) that takes advantage of available data from the survey regarding immigrants’ country of origin, age on arrival, and year of arrival in the United States, combined with information from the Polity IV data set, which records countries’ degrees of democracy over time, we constructed a measure of immigrants’ premigratory exposure to democracy. For further details on the operationalization of our concept of imported socialization, see below. To test our theoretical expectations, our statistical models analyze three different dependent variables. Using survey data from the MVS 2003, we use three distinct indicators of political trust. Respondents were asked “how much trust do you have” in three different levels of government, that is, the federal government in Washington, the state government, and the local city or county government. Responses to these instruments were coded along a four-point scale such that higher values denote greater political trust. It should be noted, once again, that all three indicators constitute postmigratory measures of political trust. Our empirical analyses rely on three main independent variables: imported socialization, acculturation, and income. As noted above, our measure of imported socialization is constructed based on immigrants’ premigratory exposure to different degrees of democracy in their country of origin at the time of their preadult socialization. Specifically, we calculated an imported socialization score for each respondent based on an average of the Polity IV scores from their country of origin, given both the individual’s age on arrival in the United States and the year of arrival in the United States. To reflect only the preadult socialization process, our measure solely takes into consideration up to the first 18 years of life of the respondents’ country of origin Polity IV scores. If the respondent, for instance, left the country of origin at age 15 years, our measure is calculated considering only the 15 years that this individual was exposed to different degrees of democracy in the sending country during those years of early socialization. Given the original range of the Polity IV scores, our imported socialization measure has a conceptual minimum value of negative 10 and a maximum of positive 10.4 To clarify further how our measure is able to capture individual variance, let us think of a couple of hypothetical respondents. First, let us take an individual born in Argentina in 1960 who came to the United States at age 20 years in 1980. According to the Polity IV data set, Argentina was an authoritarian regime with a score of negative one in 1960 when this individual was born. The political conditions under which she grew up deteriorated (reaching a negative 9) in 1967, experienced a brief upward trend between 1974 and 1976 (getting a positive 6), only to worsen drastically again (falling to a negative 9) in 1977. Those conditions (negative 9) remained until 1980, as she decided to leave Argentina behind and migrated to the United States. Following this illustration, it should be clear that immigrant “A” would have been exposed to an authoritarian regime (in this case of military nature) during most of her early socialization years, and accordingly, our individualized imported socialization should be able to capture that individual negative exposure. To calculate an imported socialization score for this Argentine immigrant following the story above, we would need to compute the first 6 years of her life at negative 1, the next 7 years at negative 9, then 3 years at positive 6, and the final 2 years of the early socialization years (ending at age 18 years) at negative 9. The sum of those experiences renders a negative 69, which then would be divided by 18 (number of years). The imported socialization score computed for this hypothetical Argentine immigrant results in a negative 3.833, and was computed as follows: [((6)*(−1))+((7)*(−9))+((3)*(6))+((2)*(−9))]/18=3.833. In contrast, consider another 20-year-old immigrant also from Argentina but who was born in 1983, right around the beginning of the democratization process, and who came to the United States in 2003. According to the Polity IV data set, Argentina transitioned from an authoritarian regime (negative 8) in 1983 to a considerably democratic one (positive 8) in 1984. This nascent democracy has remained remarkably stable since, with only a minor setback (scoring positive 7 instead of positive 8) between the years of 1989 and 1999. Therefore, it can be argued that the socialization experience of Immigrant B compared with that of Immigrant A was significantly more positive in terms of exposure to democracy during her early socialization years. Our measure, in turn, should capture such a difference. This is indeed the case. Immigrant “B” would be assigned a positive score of 7.388, calculated as follows. Compute the first 5 years of this immigrant’s life at positive 8, the next 11 years at positive 7, and the final 2 years of the early socialization years (ending at age 18 years) again at positive 8. The sum of those experiences renders a positive 133, which then would be divided by 18 (number of years). [((5)*(8))+((11)*(7))+((2)*(8))]/18 = 7.388. An alternative to assess the effects of premigratory exposure to democracy on postmigratory attitudes could have been the use of a hierarchical linear model analysis, but this individualized measure, we argue, is a better approach because our imported socialization construct does not intend to capture country-level variations in democracy per se. Our measure is designed to capture the individual’s exposure to democracy during the early socialization years. Therefore, we consider this a more valid construct and approach reflecting that, though from the same country of origin, the socialization experience of two individuals can potentially be significantly different in terms of their exposure to democracy before migrating to the United States. Supplementary Table B displays how much variance the imported socialization construct captures among immigrants from the same country of origin for each of the 20 countries of origin available to this study. Our measure of acculturation is an additive index based on responses to questions regarding (1) primary language spoken at home, (2) language in which the interview was conducted, and (3) preferred language for media consumption (TV and radio). Although there are alternative measures of acculturation (Andrews, Bridges & Gomez, 2013; Berry, 1997, 2003), data availability constraints do not allow us to test our hypotheses with a multifaceted measure. Our one-dimensional measure, however, effectively captures the acquisition and common use of the host country’s language. Furthermore, an immigrant’s dominant language is often used as an empirical proxy for the degree of acculturation (DeFrancesco Soto & Merolla, 2006; Finch & Vega 2003). Income is measured using a self-reported item that reflects household income in thousands of dollars per year. To test whether the effects of acculturation are moderated by premigratory exposure to democracy and income, our models include a pair of two-way interactions, acculturation x imported socialization and acculturation x income. Our models also include controls for immigrants’ time of residence in the United States, education, political interest, political efficacy, interpersonal trust, race/ethnicity, and sex. All the variables were recoded into the same scale, ranging from 0 to 1, for comparative purposes. The imported socialization measure is recoded to range from −1 to 1. Empirical Results The results of our model are reported in Tables 1–3.5Table 1 reports the results of an ordered probit model designed to explain Latino immigrants’ trust in the national government. The first data column shows the direct effect of each explanatory variable. In the second data column, we interacted acculturation with income and imported socialization to test whether its effects are moderated as we hypothesized. Table 2 presents the results of two identically specified models designed to explain their level of trust in state government. Finally, Table 3 presents the determinants of trust in government at the local level. Table 1 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in National Government Trust in national government Trust in national government Income 0.05 –0.45 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.24 –0.26 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.79** 0.80** (0.14) (0.14) Years in the United States 0.25 0.35 (0.46) (0.46) Imported socialization –0.14* –0.29** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.55** –0.91** (0.14) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 1.04* (0.49) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.32* (0.18) Female –0.04 –0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.07 –0.05 (0.11) (0.11) Political efficacy 0.76** 0.75** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.11 0.15 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.33 0.36 (0.39) (0.39) Asian –1.37 –1.21 (0.92) (0.92) Other 0.34 0.39 (0.43) (0.43) Log likelihood –824.0 –820.5 χ2 for LR test 96.7** 103.9** Number of cases 692 692 Trust in national government Trust in national government Income 0.05 –0.45 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.24 –0.26 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.79** 0.80** (0.14) (0.14) Years in the United States 0.25 0.35 (0.46) (0.46) Imported socialization –0.14* –0.29** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.55** –0.91** (0.14) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 1.04* (0.49) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.32* (0.18) Female –0.04 –0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.07 –0.05 (0.11) (0.11) Political efficacy 0.76** 0.75** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.11 0.15 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.33 0.36 (0.39) (0.39) Asian –1.37 –1.21 (0.92) (0.92) Other 0.34 0.39 (0.43) (0.43) Log likelihood –824.0 –820.5 χ2 for LR test 96.7** 103.9** Number of cases 692 692 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. Table 1 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in National Government Trust in national government Trust in national government Income 0.05 –0.45 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.24 –0.26 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.79** 0.80** (0.14) (0.14) Years in the United States 0.25 0.35 (0.46) (0.46) Imported socialization –0.14* –0.29** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.55** –0.91** (0.14) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 1.04* (0.49) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.32* (0.18) Female –0.04 –0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.07 –0.05 (0.11) (0.11) Political efficacy 0.76** 0.75** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.11 0.15 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.33 0.36 (0.39) (0.39) Asian –1.37 –1.21 (0.92) (0.92) Other 0.34 0.39 (0.43) (0.43) Log likelihood –824.0 –820.5 χ2 for LR test 96.7** 103.9** Number of cases 692 692 Trust in national government Trust in national government Income 0.05 –0.45 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.24 –0.26 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.79** 0.80** (0.14) (0.14) Years in the United States 0.25 0.35 (0.46) (0.46) Imported socialization –0.14* –0.29** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.55** –0.91** (0.14) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 1.04* (0.49) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.32* (0.18) Female –0.04 –0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.07 –0.05 (0.11) (0.11) Political efficacy 0.76** 0.75** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.11 0.15 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.33 0.36 (0.39) (0.39) Asian –1.37 –1.21 (0.92) (0.92) Other 0.34 0.39 (0.43) (0.43) Log likelihood –824.0 –820.5 χ2 for LR test 96.7** 103.9** Number of cases 692 692 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. Table 2 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in State Government Trust in state government Trust in state government Income –0.21 –0.63* (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.18 –0.20 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.64** 0.65** (0.14) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.23 0.31 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.27* (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.54** –0.82** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.85* (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.37* (0.18) Female 0.01 0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.11 –0.09 (0.10) (0.10) Political efficacy 0.64** 0.63** (0.16) (0.16) Black –0.04 –0.01 (0.43) (0.43) Hispanic 0.12 0.15 (0.38) (0.38) Asian –0.80 –0.67 (0.88) (0.88) Other 0.12 0.16 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –848.9 –845.6 χ2 for LR test 74.4** 81.1** Number of cases 696 696 Trust in state government Trust in state government Income –0.21 –0.63* (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.18 –0.20 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.64** 0.65** (0.14) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.23 0.31 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.27* (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.54** –0.82** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.85* (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.37* (0.18) Female 0.01 0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.11 –0.09 (0.10) (0.10) Political efficacy 0.64** 0.63** (0.16) (0.16) Black –0.04 –0.01 (0.43) (0.43) Hispanic 0.12 0.15 (0.38) (0.38) Asian –0.80 –0.67 (0.88) (0.88) Other 0.12 0.16 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –848.9 –845.6 χ2 for LR test 74.4** 81.1** Number of cases 696 696 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. Table 2 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in State Government Trust in state government Trust in state government Income –0.21 –0.63* (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.18 –0.20 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.64** 0.65** (0.14) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.23 0.31 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.27* (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.54** –0.82** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.85* (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.37* (0.18) Female 0.01 0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.11 –0.09 (0.10) (0.10) Political efficacy 0.64** 0.63** (0.16) (0.16) Black –0.04 –0.01 (0.43) (0.43) Hispanic 0.12 0.15 (0.38) (0.38) Asian –0.80 –0.67 (0.88) (0.88) Other 0.12 0.16 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –848.9 –845.6 χ2 for LR test 74.4** 81.1** Number of cases 696 696 Trust in state government Trust in state government Income –0.21 –0.63* (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.18 –0.20 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.64** 0.65** (0.14) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.23 0.31 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.27* (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.54** –0.82** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.85* (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.37* (0.18) Female 0.01 0.02 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.11 –0.09 (0.10) (0.10) Political efficacy 0.64** 0.63** (0.16) (0.16) Black –0.04 –0.01 (0.43) (0.43) Hispanic 0.12 0.15 (0.38) (0.38) Asian –0.80 –0.67 (0.88) (0.88) Other 0.12 0.16 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –848.9 –845.6 χ2 for LR test 74.4** 81.1** Number of cases 696 696 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. Table 3 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in Local Government Trust in local government Trust in local government Income –0.02 –0.33 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.31* –0.32 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.71** 0.72** (0.13) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.16 0.22 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.30** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.50** –0.68** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.59 (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.46* (0.18) Female 0.11 0.12 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.09 (0.11) –0.07 (0.11) Political efficacy 0.58** 0.57** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.64 0.65 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.55 0.57 (0.38) (0.38) Asian 0.36 0.50 (0.90) (0.89) Other 0.43 0.45 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –850.9 –847.1 χ2 for LR test 74.5** 82.1** Number of cases 693 693 Trust in local government Trust in local government Income –0.02 –0.33 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.31* –0.32 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.71** 0.72** (0.13) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.16 0.22 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.30** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.50** –0.68** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.59 (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.46* (0.18) Female 0.11 0.12 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.09 (0.11) –0.07 (0.11) Political efficacy 0.58** 0.57** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.64 0.65 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.55 0.57 (0.38) (0.38) Asian 0.36 0.50 (0.90) (0.89) Other 0.43 0.45 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –850.9 –847.1 χ2 for LR test 74.5** 82.1** Number of cases 693 693 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. Table 3 Latino Immigrants’ Trust in Local Government Trust in local government Trust in local government Income –0.02 –0.33 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.31* –0.32 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.71** 0.72** (0.13) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.16 0.22 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.30** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.50** –0.68** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.59 (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.46* (0.18) Female 0.11 0.12 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.09 (0.11) –0.07 (0.11) Political efficacy 0.58** 0.57** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.64 0.65 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.55 0.57 (0.38) (0.38) Asian 0.36 0.50 (0.90) (0.89) Other 0.43 0.45 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –850.9 –847.1 χ2 for LR test 74.5** 82.1** Number of cases 693 693 Trust in local government Trust in local government Income –0.02 –0.33 (0.19) (0.30) Education –0.31* –0.32 (0.17) (0.17) Political interest 0.71** 0.72** (0.13) (0.13) Years in the United States 0.16 0.22 (0.45) (0.45) Imported socialization –0.10 –0.30** (0.07) (0.11) Acculturation –0.50** –0.68** (0.13) (0.22) Acculturation x income – 0.59 (0.48) Acculturation x imported socialization – 0.46* (0.18) Female 0.11 0.12 (0.08) (0.08) Interpersonal trust –0.09 (0.11) –0.07 (0.11) Political efficacy 0.58** 0.57** (0.16) (0.16) Black 0.64 0.65 (0.44) (0.44) Hispanic 0.55 0.57 (0.38) (0.38) Asian 0.36 0.50 (0.90) (0.89) Other 0.43 0.45 (0.42) (0.42) Log likelihood –850.9 –847.1 χ2 for LR test 74.5** 82.1** Number of cases 693 693 Note: Table entries are ordered probit estimates with standard errors in parentheses. All variables have been transformed to share a common range of 0–1. The imported socialization variable ranges from −1 to 1. Cut points omitted to conserve space. *p < .05, **p < .01, one-tailed. We begin by considering the effects of the control variables. We first observe that the coefficient denoting years lived in the United States is statistically indistinguishable from 0 in all three models. This null result indicates that the sheer amount of time Latino immigrants have spent living in the United States has no discernible impact on their level of trust in government at the national, state, or local levels. As we explain later, time alone is unimportant; it is what one does with that time that matters. Similarly, income has no direct effect on trust in government at any of the three levels of government. Education also fails to exert much influence on trust in government. Although education is inversely related to trust in local government (−0.31, p < .05), it is inconsequential at both the national and state levels. Political interest, in contrast, has a consistently strong impact on trust in government. Trust in government is positively associated with political interest at the national, state, and local levels (0.79, p < .01; 0.64, p < .01; 0.71, p < .01). Similarly, political trust is positively associated with political efficacy across all three levels of government (0.76, p < .01; 0.64, p < .01; 0.58, p < .01). We turn next to the effects of imported socialization. Here, we test whether the degree of democracy to which individuals are exposed during their premigration socialization process shapes attitudes toward government after their arrival in the United States. Immigrants with premigration exposure to more democratic contexts over time are expected to express less faith in government (H1). The results of our analysis offer qualified support for that expectation. The coefficient representing imported socialization is negatively signed across all three models and achieves statistical significance in the national model (−0.14, p < .05). Although negatively signed, the coefficients for imported socialization are only marginally significant in the state and local models (−0.10, p < .10, and −0.10, p < .10). Taken together, these results suggest that premigratory exposure to democracy is negatively associated with postmigratory political trust, particularly at the national level. Consider next the effects of acculturation. Trust in government was hypothesized to be weaker among immigrants who were better acculturated to life in the United States (H2). That is precisely what we observe in Table 1. The coefficient for acculturation is both negatively signed and statistically significant (−0.55, p < .01). This finding lends empirical credence to the idea that becoming more accustomed to the English language and to American culture makes one look less favorably on government. As shown in Tables 2 and 3, this phenomenon is not limited to attitudes toward the national government. Acculturation, we find, is also associated with less trust in government at the state and local levels (−0.54, p < .01; −0.50, p < .01). Our results thus far have provided consistent evidence of a negative association between acculturation and trust in government. Of central interest in our analysis is the question of whether that negative relationship holds across all individuals. In particular, we seek to determine whether the effects of acculturation are moderated by premigratory exposure to different degrees of democracy over time and by postmigratory levels of income. We have argued that the effects of acculturation should be moderated by the level of democracy in one’s country of origin. Specifically, we hypothesized that the negative effects of acculturation should be attenuated among those who were already accustomed to living in a democratic society before immigration (H3). If so, we should observe a positively signed interaction between acculturation and imported socialization. As shown in the second data columns of Tables 1, 2, and 3, the interaction in question is consistently positive and statistically significant (0.32, p < .05; 0.37, p < .05; 0.46, p < .05). This implies that the negative effects of acculturation are, as expected, diminished among those individuals who were exposed to relatively more democratic contexts before migrating to the United States. To illustrate the magnitude of these interactions, Figures 1a, 2a, and 3a visually depict the effects of acculturation on trust in government by imported socialization. Among those who were exposed to lower levels of democracy in their countries of origin during their socialization experiences, a one-unit increase in acculturation reduces the likelihood of trust in national government by 30 percentage points. At the state and local levels, the effects of this shift in acculturation are 28 and 31 percentage points, respectively. Among those who were exposed to higher levels of democracy, however, the negative impact of acculturation on confidence is markedly smaller. At the national level, a one-unit increase in acculturation lowers the predicted probability of confidence by only 15 percentage points. At the state and local levels, the effect is even smaller at 12 and 7 percentage points, respectively. Collectively, these results demonstrate that the effects of acculturation are not uniform across individuals and vary according to immigrants’ experiences before emigration. Figure 1 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in national government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in national government by acculturation and income. Figure 1 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in national government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in national government by acculturation and income. Figure 2 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in state government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in state government by acculturation and income Figure 2 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in state government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in state government by acculturation and income Figure 3 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in local government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in local government by acculturation and income Figure 3 View largeDownload slide (a) Trust in local government by acculturation and imported socialization. (b) Trust in local government by acculturation and income We also posed the question of whether the negative effects of acculturation are attenuated or amplified among the affluent. If attenuated, then we should observe a positively signed interaction between acculturation and income. If amplified, we should observe a negatively signed interaction. The results are consistent with the former scenario. The interaction between acculturation and income is positively signed in all three models and is statistically reliable at the national level (1.04, p < .05) and at the state level (0.85, p < .05). These positive interactions work to mitigate the negative effect of acculturation on trust in government. The conditional impact of acculturation on trust in government is again most readily apparent when viewed graphically. Figure 1b plots the predicted probabilities of confidence in national government by acculturation and income. Figures 2b and 3b present the same information at the state and local levels. As these figures make clear, the interaction between acculturation and income is substantively as well as statistically significant. Among those with low levels of income, increasing acculturation from its minimum to its maximum value decreases the probability of trust in national government by 33 percentage points. Among those with high levels of income, however, this same shift in acculturation decreases the likelihood of trust by 12 percentage points. At the state level, a similarly sized shock to acculturation decreases trust by 30 percentage points among low-income immigrants. Among the affluent, however, the effect of acculturation decreases trust by 12 percentage points. Although the interaction at the local level just fails to reach statistical significance, the negative slope for acculturation is visibly steeper among those with low income than it is among the affluent. Discussion Political scientists have debated, intensely at times, the nature of the relationship between democracy and individuals’ feelings toward government. The massive influx of individuals coming from Latin America to the United States over the past few decades provides a pseudo natural experiment which we can exploit for theoretical advantage. Such immigrants were exposed, although perhaps nonrandomly, to different treatments of democracy in their countries of origin, as they were socialized into politics. These individuals then crossed nations’ borders and found a new home in the United States, a long-standing consolidated democracy. As expected, we found that immigrants’ premigratory exposure to democracy reduced postmigratory levels of trust in the federal government in the United States. This suggests that more democratic contexts, particularly those still lacking consolidation, are more likely to produce and export less trusting individuals than are less democratic environments. Exploiting a novel data set and an innovative measure of premigratory (imported) socialization, this article contributes new insight into the connection between exposure to premigratory political context and the postmigratory political experience. Paraphrasing Lippmann’s (1922) work, this study represents one of the first scholarly efforts to connect two pseudo-environments: the one formed in immigrants’ minds, as they were socialized into politics in their countries of origin, and the new pseudo-environment formed in immigrants’ minds following migration through the rocky roads of acculturation. Our study is not, of course, without limitations. First, our inferences about the relationship between premigratory exposure to democracy and postmigratory political trust could be strengthened by examining whether that relationship exists among first-generation immigrants from other regions of the world. Second, future work in this area might improve on our analysis by incorporating more multifaceted measures of acculturation. Third, our analysis would have benefitted from including a measure of immigrants’ level of political trust in their country of origin, as premigratory political trust is a potential confounder of the association between socialization and postmigratory trust. Finally, the expectations derived from H3 would ideally be tested using panel data. With a two-wave panel, for example, it would be possible to monitor individuals’ political attitudes and political engagement before migration, and then again sometime after migration once those individuals have become more fully entrenched as residents of the United States. Absent such an idealized data set, one must make due with available alternatives. We believe that our construct of imported socialization provides an important step forward in understanding the link between premigratory exposure to democracy and postmigration political behavior. This study also contributes important insights to the literatures on acculturation and political incorporation. Previous studies have suggested that the effects of acculturation on immigrants’ attitudes toward the new host political system are uniformly corrosive across individuals (Michelson, 2003, 2007). Our results also indicate that acculturation helps to erode political trust. In a nation of immigrants, such findings could, from a normative standpoint, be used to construe a rather pessimistic outlook. On a more optimistic note, however, our results indicate that the rocky roads of acculturation are not equally rough for all individuals. We find that the negative effects of acculturation are most acute among immigrants with low levels of income and among those who were exposed to less democratic contexts, as they were socialized into politics in their countries of origin. This pair of findings has important implications concerning future outreach efforts targeting this new electorate (DeSipio, 1996). Our results have implications for policymakers as well. As they weigh the merits of various immigration reform proposals, lawmakers may wish to contemplate how particular reforms may regulate the influence of acculturation on immigrants’ attitudes toward their new government. Sergio C. Wals is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Institute for Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research interests include public opinion, political psychology, political behavior, immigration, race and ethnicity, democratization, and Latin American politics. Thomas J. Rudolph is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include public opinion, political psychology, and political behavior. Supplementary Data Supplementary Data are available at IJPOR online. Footnotes 1The breakdown by decade of these first-generation Latino immigrants is as follows: 4.2 million (20.5%) arrived in the United States during the 1980s; 6 million (29.2%) arrived during the 1990s; and 7 million more (34.8%) during the 2000s. 2Nine of these first-generation immigrants come from Spain. People from Spain also experienced a political transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one during the Third Wave. Also, these individuals share some cultural background with immigrants from Latin America, despite their European ancestry, are likely to experience similar prejudice than Latino immigrants in the United States because of their use of the Spanish language. We have, therefore, no reason to believe that either the imported socialization process or acculturation operates in a critically distinct manner among these individuals, so we decided to include them in our empirical analyses. 3For a complete list of the 20 countries of origin, please see Supplementary Appendix Table A. 4The actual observed original values range from negative 9 to positive 10. In our empirical analyses, however, the imported socialization variable was recoded to range from 0 to 1 for comparative purposes. 5In response to reviewer’s suggestion, we created a three-item scale of political trust using the national, state, and local instruments. These three instruments created a sufficiently reliable scale of political trust (α = 0.92). We then estimated our model using this three-item scale as the dependent variable. We report the results of that model in Supplementary Table C. The results produced when using one three-item measure of political trust are quantitatively similar and qualitatively identical to those produced when using three one-item measures of political trust. Consistent with our expectations, acculturation and premigratory exposure to democracy are negatively associated with political trust. 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International Journal of Public Opinion ResearchOxford University Press

Published: Feb 14, 2018

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