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Inequality and Trust: Testing a Mediating Relationship for Environmental Sustainability

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  • Eric Kemp-Benedict

    ()
    (Stockholm Environment Institute, 11 Curtis Avenue, Somerville, MA 02144, USA)

Abstract

Instrumental arguments linking inequality to environmental sustainability often suppose a negative relationship between inequality and social cohesion. While social cohesion is difficult to measure, there are measures of a narrower concept, social trust, and empirical studies have shown that social trust is negatively related to inequality. In this paper we test whether at least part of the observed relationship may be explained by income level, rather than income distribution. We use individual response data from the World Values Survey at the income decile level, and find evidence that income level is indeed important in explaining differences in levels of social trust, but it is insufficient to explain all of the dependence. In the sample used for the study, we find that both income level and income distribution help explain differences in social trust between countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 779-788

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Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:779-788:d:23716

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Related research

Keywords: trust; inequality; social capital; social cohesion;

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References

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  1. Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey D. Milyo, 2001. "Income inequality and health," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(1), pages 151-155.
  2. Rudd, Murray A., 2000. "Live long and prosper: collective action, social capital and social vision," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 131-144, July.
  3. James K. Boyce, 2004. "Green and Brown? Globalization and the Environment," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics 2004-01, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  4. Jordahl, Henrik, 2007. "Inequality and Trust," Working Paper Series, Research Institute of Industrial Economics 715, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  5. Wilkinson, Richard G. & Pickett, Kate E., 2007. "The problems of relative deprivation: Why some societies do better than others," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 65(9), pages 1965-1978, November.
  6. Jen, Min Hua & Jones, Kelvyn & Johnston, Ron, 2009. "Global variations in health: Evaluating Wilkinson's income inequality hypothesis using the World Values Survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 643-653, February.
  7. James K. Boyce, 2004. "Green and Brown? Globalization and the Environment," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 105-128, Spring.
  8. Frederick Solt, 2009. "Standardizing the World Income Inequality Database," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(2), pages 231-242.
  9. Kolstad, Ivar & Wiig, Arne, 2012. "Testing The Pearl Hypothesis: Natural resources and trust," Resources Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 358-367.
  10. James Boyce, 2004. "Green and Brown? Globalization and the Environment," Working Papers, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst wp78, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  11. Wilkinson, Richard G & Pickett, Kate E., 2006. "Income inequality and population health: A review and explanation of the evidence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 62(7), pages 1768-1784, April.
  12. Heerink, Nico & Mulatu, Abay & Bulte, Erwin, 2001. "Income inequality and the environment: aggregation bias in environmental Kuznets curves," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 359-367, September.
  13. Justina A.V. Fischer & Benno Torgler, 2006. "The Effect of Relative Income Position on Social Capital," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 26(4), pages 1-20.
  14. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:26:y:2006:i:4:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
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