Are Americans becoming less neighborly? Yes. Studies show that a greater percentage of Americans are less likely to trust their neighbors. Urban city dwellers tend to trust their neighbors the least, along with those who are younger and those who have the least amounts of money and education. City dwellers also don’t socialize with their neighbors as often as their small town counterparts. This correlation may be due to a link between lack of socialization and lack of trust.
As the graph of the research conducted by the Pew Research Center shows, 54% of the Urban population trusts some or none of their neighbors, compared to 46% who say they trust most or all of their neighbors. The Hispanic population has the least amount of trust among their three groups surveyed, with 72% saying they can’t trust their neighbors. And of those who make less than $30,000 a year, 63% percent say they trust some or none of their neighbors. Finally, of those who have a high school education or less, 57% say they can trust some or none of their neighbors. The problem with this research is that they categorize racial groups very broadly, which ignores the cultural differences between Hispanics from different Spanish speaking countries. However, it makes sense that there is an apparent trend that the most vulnerable in the population have the least amount of trust of their neighbors.
Another aspect of being a good neighbor is communication. There is a correlation between those in Urban areas communicating the least with their neighbors and a lack of trust. After all, if you don’t build a relationship with someone, it makes it difficult to determine whether or not they’re trustworthy. One theory the Washington Post article posits is that city dwellers have more high-powered jobs, which takes away the amount of time available for socialization. This may be true to a certain degree. But another theory has to do with the fact that America’s inner cities have become increasingly impoverished. There could also be a correlation between poverty, coupled with racial tensions and lack of education, and the lack of communication and trust between neighbors.
Some other theories in the article have to do with lifestyle changes in the American population. The wealthy are shutting themselves off in gated communities. The majority of leisure time is now spent watching TV. Now that people are indoors in their air conditioned homes, there are fewer incentives to sit on the front porch and talk to neighbors. This lack of face to face communication is one of the major downsides of technology, and it is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.