Groups and Trust: Experimental Evidence on the Olson and Putnam Hypotheses

28 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2014

See all articles by Giacomo Degli Antoni

Giacomo Degli Antoni

University of Parma - Faculty of Law

Gianluca Grimalda

Kiel Institute for the World Economy; Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg-Essen; Jaume I University

Date Written: November 10, 2014

Abstract

Mancur Olson and Robert Putnam provide two conflicting views on the effect of involvement with voluntary associations on their members. Putnam argues that associations instill in their members habits of cooperation, solidarity and public spiritedness. Olson emphasizes the tendency of groups to pursue private interests and lobby for preferential policies. We carry out the first field experiment involving a sample of members of different association types from different age groups and education levels, as well as a demographically comparable sample of non-members. This enables us to examine the differential patterns of behavior followed by members of Putnam-type and Olson-type associations. Coherently with both the Putnam’s and Olson’s view, we find that members of Putnam-type (Olson-type) associations display more (no more) generalized trust than non-members. However, when we examine trustworthy behavior we find the opposite pattern, with members of Olson-type (Putnam-type) associations more (no more) trustworthy than non-members. No relevant effect for the intensity of participation in associations emerges.

Keywords: Trust, Voluntary associations, Putnam, Olson, Field experiment

JEL Classification: A13, D03, C93, Z13

Suggested Citation

Degli Antoni, Giacomo and Grimalda, Gianluca, Groups and Trust: Experimental Evidence on the Olson and Putnam Hypotheses (November 10, 2014). Euricse Working Papers, 72 | 14, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2521441 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2521441

Giacomo Degli Antoni (Contact Author)

University of Parma - Faculty of Law ( email )

Via Universita 12,
Parma, 43100
Italy

Gianluca Grimalda

Kiel Institute for the World Economy ( email )

P.O. Box 4309
Kiel, Schleswig-Hosltein D-24100
Germany

Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg-Essen ( email )

Schifferstraße 196
Duisburg, NRW 47059
Germany

Jaume I University ( email )

Castellon
E-12071 Castello de la Plana, Castellón de la Plana 12071
Spain

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