How the Built Environment Affects Public Trust in Canadian Municipalities
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of strong neighbourhoods, where people can rely on one another. Support can mean delivering groceries to older people living by themselves or simply checking on each other’s health. These scenarios, among others, show that interpersonal trust is a central component of a strong community.
IMFG Graduate Fellow Fernando Calderón Figueroa explored the relationship between trust and the built environment of neighbourhoods across Canadian municipalities. First, he used data from Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey to show that trust is spatially concentrated — in other words, that people with similar levels of trust towards others tend to be in proximity to one another. Second, he argued that the spatial composition of cities — measured through people’s proximity to amenities like libraries, parks, and schools — is positively correlated with trust, and that a having a lot of amenities in close proximity to each other promotes the kind of recurrent casual encounters that lead to higher levels of trust.
Speaker: Fernando Calderón Figueroa is the 2021-2022 recipient of the Blanche and Sandy Van Ginkel Graduate Fellowship in Municipal Finance and Governance and a PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology, University of Toronto.