The Right Amount of Trust

74 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2010

See all articles by Jeffrey V. Butler

Jeffrey V. Butler

Dept. of Economics, University of California, Merced

Paola Giuliano

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Luigi Guiso

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 16, 2010

Abstract

We investigate the relationship between individual trust and individual economic performance. We find that individual income is hump-shaped in a measure of intensity of trust beliefs. Heterogeneity of trust beliefs in the population, coupled with the tendency of individuals to extrapolate beliefs about others from their own levels of trustworthiness, could generate this non-monotonic relationship: highly trustworthy individuals tend to form overly optimistic beliefs, to assume too much social risk and to be cheated more often, ultimately performing less well than those with a belief close to the mean trustworthiness of the population. On the other hand, less trustworthy individuals form overly pessimistic beliefs and avoid being cheated, but give up profitable opportunities, therefore underperforming. The cost of either too much or too little trust is comparable to the income lost by foregoing college. Our findings in large-scale survey data are supported and extended with experimental findings. We show that in the trust game, own trustworthiness and beliefs about others’ trustworthiness are strongly correlated and persistent and that patterns in earnings lost due to incorrect beliefs are comparable to those in the survey data.

Keywords: Trust, Trustworthiness, Economic Performance, Culture, False Consensus

JEL Classification: A1, A12, D1, O15, Z1

Suggested Citation

Butler, Jeffrey Vincent and Giuliano, Paola and Guiso, Luigi, The Right Amount of Trust (June 16, 2010). FEEM Working Paper No. 61.2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1625677 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1625677

Jeffrey Vincent Butler

Dept. of Economics, University of California, Merced ( email )

5200 N. Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jeffreyvbutler.org

Paola Giuliano (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Luigi Guiso

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) ( email )

Via Sallustiana 62
Rome, 00187
Italy
+39 06 4792 4858 (Phone)
+39 06 4792 4872 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.eief.it/faculty-visitors/faculty-a-z/luigi-guiso/

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