General Social survey respondents have been asked the following question each survey year since 1972: "Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in life?"
The graph shows that trust among Americans has been slipping for four decades (sample size = 34,790). The red section shows the percent who say that people can be trusted: this has dropped from around 50 percent in the early 70s to less than 40 percent currently. The trend has paralleled the post-1965 ethnic diversification of the country.
Falling trust is not a good sign since a flourishing society depends on a certain amount of confidence that contracts can be made and will be honored.
I'm putting together a cross-national data set and plan to identify the social correlates of ethnic diversity. I predict the results will not be pretty.
"The creation myth was the essential bond that held the tribe together. It provided its believers with a unique identity, commanded their fidelity, strengthened order, vouchsafed law, encouraged valor and sacrifice, and offered meaning to the cycles of life and death. No tribe could survive long without the meaning of its existence defined by a creation story. The option was to weaken, dissolve, and die." ~ E.O. Wilson