Back to search

VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon

Trust among refugees. The impact of welfare state institutions

Alternative title: Tillit blant flyktninger. Betydningen av velferdsstatlige institusjoner og aktører.

Awarded: NOK 11.9 mill.

Project Number:

325550

Application Type:

Project Period:

2021 - 2026

Funding received from:

Location:

Subject Fields:

Partner countries:

Trust is a crucial ingredient for a number of aspects related to well-functioning societies and high levels of trust has been described as an essential part of the Nordic welfare states’ recipe for success. But how will increased migration from low-trust contexts impact on Nordic host societies? Will immigrants adapt to the Nordic levels of trust, or will trust levels formed in countries of origin persist in the new institutional context? Can state institutions, which tend to treat asylum seekers in particular with extreme distrust, generate institutional trust among refugees’ post settlement? And can the development of institutional trust among refugees through their interaction with state institutions also propel the development of generalized social trust? This project sets out to study how institutional trust develops over time among refugees in Norway and Denmark - two countries that despite overall similarities have gone separate ways regarding policies towards refugees. Our focus is on the role of the welfare state: how do its institutions, policies and practices influence the level of trust that refugees develop towards host country institutions? Methodologically, the proposed project rests on a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches. We combine 1) a longitudinal survey in three waves among refugees in Norway and Denmark with 2) administrative register data at the individual level and 3) qualitative interviews and observations of face-to-face encounters between refugees and street-level bureaucrats in a selection of welfare states institutions. With a comparative study of refugees’ experiences within two different welfare and integration regimes, we aim to increase knowledge on how institutional design and street-level implementation may build or break trust.

This project sets out to study how institutional and social trust develops over time among newly arrived refugees in Norway and Denmark. Our focus is on the role of welfare state institutions: How do different institutions, policies and street-level practices influence refugees’ trust in host country institutions? Our main source of data will be a longitudinal survey among refugees in three rounds, linked with data from administrative sources. We will also collect qualitative data, interviewing street-level bureaucrats and refugee users in dyadic pairs, strategically sampled from the survey. In our efforts to understand if and how institutions may influence trust, refugees constitute an interesting case. They provide an opportunity to test to what extent trust is a persistent cultural trait or formed by contemporary experiences. The comparison of refugees resettled in Norway and Denmark is motivated by variations in integration and welfare policies towards refugees and immigrants. With a comparative study of refugees’ experiences within two different welfare and integration regimes, we aim to increase knowledge on how institutional design and street-level implementation may build or break trust. By focusing on newly arrived refugees and by interviewing them in their native language, we will reach respondents who are less likely to be represented in population surveys. Our panel design will provide a better analytical tool for studies of temporal patterns and causal relationships than the more commonly used cross-sectional surveys that will be prone to selection-type errors. Our aim is to provide new insights into the underlying mechanisms that may build or break institutional trust, with the intention of bringing the academic field of socio-cultural integration forward, as well as informing policymakers on how to shape integration policy that promotes social cohesion and respectful interactions and transparency of interaction styles within bureaucratic procedures.

Funding scheme:

VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon