Who Trusts Others?

43 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2001

See all articles by Alberto F. Alesina

Alberto F. Alesina

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Eliana La Ferrara

University of Bocconi - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research (IGIER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: December 2000

Abstract

Both individual experiences and community characteristics influence how much people trust each other. Using individual level data drawn from US localities we find that the strongest factors associated with low trust are: i) a recent history of traumatic experiences; ii) belonging to a group that historically felt discriminated against, such as minorities (blacks in particular) and, to a lesser extent, women; iii) being economically unsuccessful in terms of income and education; iv) living in a racially mixed community and/or in one with a high degree of income disparity. Religious beliefs and ethnic origins do not significantly affect trust. The role of racial cleavages leading to low trust is confirmed when we explicitly account for individual preferences on inter-racial relationships: within the same community, individuals who express stronger feelings against racial integration trust relatively less the more racially heterogeneous the community is.

Keywords: Heterogeneity, Local Interaction, Trust

JEL Classification: H73, I31, J15

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and La Ferrara, Eliana, Who Trusts Others? (December 2000). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2646. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=258078

Alberto F. Alesina (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-8388 (Phone)
617-495-7730 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Eliana La Ferrara

University of Bocconi - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research (IGIER) ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy
+39 02 5836 3328 (Phone)
+39 02 5836 3302 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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