Does Gender Equality Promote Social Trust? - An Empirical Analysis

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 Last revised: 21 Jan 2017

See all articles by Seo-Young Cho

Seo-Young Cho

University of Marburg - School of Business & Economics

Date Written: August 17, 2016


Fairness is an important factor that promotes social trust by reducing social heterogeneity and gaps between people. This paper empirically investigates whether gender equality – fairness between men and women – increases social trust by analyzing a global sample from the World Values Survey. The findings show that gender discriminatory values negatively affect the trust levels of both men and women, while women’s status in labor, education, and political dimensions is not a significant determinant. These results indicate that values regarding gender equality (fair values) are arguably more important to social trust than the actual socioeconomic conditions of women (fair conditions). Furthermore, the effect of gender equality varies across countries with different levels of gender endowments. Gender related values are an important factor of social trust in countries where gender equality is relatively high, but its effect is minimal in countries with greater gender discrimination. This finding implies that fairness is a more essential social value in countries where equality is already established. Finally, the empirical investigation finds a stronger effect of gender equality on men than on women – especially in high gender-equal countries. This result contradicts the initial expectation that gender equality influences women more significantly and thus, the effect should be larger for them. A possible explanation for this result is that gender equality establishes a more trustworthy environment of men which increases their trust level more.

Keywords: social trust, gender equality, fairness, values survey, worldwide

Suggested Citation

Cho, Seo-Young, Does Gender Equality Promote Social Trust? - An Empirical Analysis (August 17, 2016). World Development 88: 175-187, Available at SSRN:

Seo-Young Cho (Contact Author)

University of Marburg - School of Business & Economics ( email )

Barfuessertor 2
Marburg, Hessen 35037


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