Early-Life Circumstances Predict Measures of Trust Among Adults: Evidence from Hunger Episodes in Post-War Germany

36 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2016

See all articles by Maximiliane Hörl

Maximiliane Hörl

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)

Iris Kesternich

KU Leuven - Department of Economics; Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics

James P. Smith

RAND Corporation; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Joachim K. Winter

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA); Deutsche Bundesbank - Research Department

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Date Written: September 29, 2016

Abstract

Can a major shock in childhood permanently shape trust? We consider a hunger episode in Germany after WWII and construct a measure of hunger exposure from official data on caloric rations set monthly by the occupying forces providing regional and temporal variation. We correlate hunger exposure with measures of trust using data from a nationally representative sample of the German population. We show that individuals exposed to low caloric rations in childhood have significantly lower levels of trust as adults. This finding highlights that early-life experiences can have long-term effects in domains other than health, where such effects are well-documented.

Keywords: trust, endogenous preferences, hunger, war

JEL Classification: D010, D740, J100, J620, N440, Z130

Suggested Citation

Hörl, Maximiliane and Kesternich, Iris and Smith, James P. and Winter, Joachim K., Early-Life Circumstances Predict Measures of Trust Among Adults: Evidence from Hunger Episodes in Post-War Germany (September 29, 2016). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6093, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2866849

Maximiliane Hörl

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, DE Bavaria 80539
Germany

Iris Kesternich

KU Leuven - Department of Economics ( email )

Leuven, B-3000
Belgium

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539
Germany

James P. Smith

RAND Corporation ( email )

P.O. Box 2138
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

Joachim K. Winter (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, DE Bavaria 80539
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) ( email )

Amalienstrasse 33
Munich, 80799
Germany

Deutsche Bundesbank - Research Department ( email )

PO Box 10 06 02
D60006 Frankfurt
Germany

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