What Have We Learned about Generalized Trust, if Anything?

Posted: 7 Jun 2008

See all articles by Peter Nannestad

Peter Nannestad

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business Economics

Abstract

After discussing issues related to the conceptualization, measurement, and statistical analysis of data on generalized trust, I survey recent empirical work (mainly from about 2000-2007) on this topic. First, results concerning cross-country differences in the level of generalized trust and the dynamics of these levels are presented. Then comes an investigation of empirical work on the determinants of generalized trust, covering contributions focusing on the impact of civic society, quality of institutions, culture and values, and ethnic heterogeneity. In these studies, generalized trust is treated as the dependent variable. After that, I survey recent empirical work on societal impacts of generalized trust, covering research on the impact of generalized trust on economic outcomes, on politics and "good government," and on the welfare state. Here, generalized trust is treated as an independent variable. I conclude with a short assessment of where we stand and how research on generalized trust may proceed from here.

Keywords: concepts, measurement, levels and dynamics, determinants, consequences

Suggested Citation

Nannestad, Peter, What Have We Learned about Generalized Trust, if Anything?. Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 11, June 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1141497

Peter Nannestad (Contact Author)

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business Economics ( email )

Fuglesangs Allé 4
Aarhus V
Denmark

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