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

26 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2020

See all articles by Iris Kesternich

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

Maximiliane Hörl

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

Can a major shock in childhood permanently shape trust? We consider a hunger episode in Germany after World War II, and we construct a measure of hunger exposure from official data on caloric rations set monthly by the occupying forces, providing regional and temporal variations. 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: Malnutrition, preference formation, preference heterogeneity, war shocks

Suggested Citation

Kesternich, Iris and Smith, James P. and Winter, Joachim K. and Hörl, Maximiliane, Early‐Life Circumstances Predict Measures of Trust Among Adults: Evidence from Hunger Episodes in Post‐War Germany (January 2020). The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Vol. 122, Issue 1, pp. 280-305, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3620264 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sjoe.12329

Iris Kesternich (Contact Author)

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

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

Maximiliane Hörl

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

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

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