POLL: Boiseans report more social trust than adults nationally
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Monday, June 1, 2021
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As the region navigates its rapid growth, Boise shows a relatively strong stock of social trust and social capital among residents, though trust in societal institutions remains low.
Boiseans are significantly more trusting of others compared to American adults overall, amid a long-term national decline in this kind of trust chronicled most famously by Robert Putnam. When asked whether you can’t be too careful when dealing with people or most people can be trusted, Boise respondents offer an average answer of 5.3 on a scale from 0 (can’t be too careful) to 10 (most can be trusted)—significantly higher than the average answer of 4.3 offered by American adults in March. Boiseans who express higher levels of trust in other people also report higher levels of satisfaction with their lives. A three-point rise in social trust is associated with about a one-point rise on the quality of life scale, a correlation that holds even when demographic factors like age, gender, race/ethnicity, and education, and partisanship are held constant.
Despite notable displays of resentment towards those migrating to the area from out of state, the vast majority of Boiseans agree that Boise is welcoming to newcomers. This consensus includes residents who have lived in the area for less than 5 years, 80% of whom say Boise is very welcoming or somewhat welcoming to new residents, as well as residents who have lived in the area 10 years or longer, 72% of whom say Boise is very or somewhat welcoming. Older residents are somewhat more likely to agree that Boise is welcoming (91% welcoming among those 65 or older), as are white residents (75% welcoming) and homeowners (78% welcoming).
Residents express a strong sense of belonging to Boise—whether owners or renters. In a previous installment, we looked at the emphasis that renters put on housing affordability in Boise as well as the disproportionate impact of housing costs on a younger and more racially diverse segment of residents. Despite those challenges, owners and renters look very much alike in their sense of belonging to Boise: owners offer an average rating of 3.6 on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 5 (a great deal), while renters offer a similar average rating of 3.4. The most intense feelings of belonging tend to be among those who have lived in Boise ten years or longer, who offer an average rating of 3.6, compared to 3.2 among those who have lived in Boise less than five years and 3.1 among those who have lived between five to ten years in the area.
However, the gap widens significantly when respondents assess their attachment to their current neighborhood: average belonging among owners clocks in at 3.7, nearly identical to belonging to Boise as a whole, while average belonging among renters comes in at 2.8. These results could suggest greater sensitivity among renters to neighborhood-level variation in housing costs as well as their greater mobility.
When it comes to putting trust in societal institutions rather than each other, Boiseans express low levels of trust but have more confidence than adults nationally. When asked how much of the time they trust institutions—from media to government officials to the legal system—Boise residents on average still say they trust institutions less than half the time, at an average of 4.1 on a scale from 0 (never) to 10 (always). Yet this is still an improvement over the national average of 3.7, and includes higher ratings of “the local news media” (Boise mean 4.3, national mean 3.8) and comparable averages for “local government officials” (Boise mean 3.6, national mean 3.5).
This is Part 3 of a three-part series on public opinion and trust in Boise.
Embold Research surveyed 924 adults online in Boise and Garden City between May 7–12, 2021. The modeled margin of error is 3.4%. Respondents were recruited to an online survey instrument via Dynamic Online Sampling, and post-stratification was done on age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, geography according to ACS 2015–19 five-year estimates of demographics of Boise and Garden City and to vote history among those who voted. Comparisons are to a national survey of 941 adults across the United States between March 18–30, 2021.
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