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Assessing Trust Through Social Capital? A Possible Experimental Answer

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  • MATTEO MIGHELI

Abstract

Trust is an important variable in economics, as several transactions are based on it; unfortunately it is difficult to measure. The recent economic literature on social capital shows a positive association between this concept and trust. As social capital is easier to measure than trust is, this paper analyzes the possibility of assessing trust measuring social capital using experimental economics. A basic trust game is played in three Western European countries with undergraduate students; a questionnaire measures their level of social capital, as time spent within social networks. This measure is stronger and more precise than the ones generally used. In particular this paper firstly measures social capital as the intensity of a membership to a voluntary organization, while the extant literature generally considers only the membership per se. Secondly the use of an experiment instead of a questionnaire allows for constructiong a measure of trust which is in principle continuous. Thirdly to play an experiment allows for observing the behaviour of the participants better than by the means of a survey. The results are supportive of the fact that trust can be assessed through social capital, although the presence of a strong geographical effect has to be accounted for.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal American Journal of Economics and Sociology.

Volume (Year): 71 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (04)
Pages: 298-327

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ajecsc:v:71:y:2012:i:2:p:298-327

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Matteo Migheli, 2013. "Relational capital, profitability and access to credit: evidence from a sample of Italian small firms," International Review of Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 60(2), pages 221-233, June.
  2. Bondonio, Daniele, 2009. "Impact identification strategies for evaluating business incentive programs," POLIS Working Papers, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS 129, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  3. Privileggi, Fabio, 2008. "On the transition dynamics in endogenous recombinant growth models," POLIS Working Papers, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS 120, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  4. Orso, Cristina Elisa, 2009. "Formal and informal sectors: Interactions between moneylenders and traditional banks in the rural Indian credit market," POLIS Working Papers, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS 135, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  5. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Espín, Antonio M. & Neuman, Shoshana, 2013. "Effects of Religiosity on Social Behaviour: Experimental Evidence from a Representative Sample of Spaniards," IZA Discussion Papers 7683, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Marchese Carla & Ramello Giovanni B., 2011. "In the Beginning Was the Word. Now is the Copyright," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 271-289, October.
  7. Giuranno, Michele, 2009. "The logic of party coalitions with political activism and public financing," POLIS Working Papers, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS 134, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.

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