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Building Social Trust: A Human-Capital Approach

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  • Fali Huang

Abstract

Much evidence suggests individuals differ in their predisposition to cooperate, which is essentially a component of human capital. This paper examines the role of individual cooperative tendencies and their interactions with institutions in generating social trust; it also endogenizes cooperative tendencies using a human-capital investment model. Multiple equilibria and inefficiencies exist due to positive externalities. An innovative finding is that, when institutions are more effective in punishing defecting behaviors, more people invest in cooperative tendencies and hence the endogenous social trust is higher, though the equilibrium cooperative tendencies are lower. This paper provides a plausible explanation for many empirical and experimental results.

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Article provided by Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen in its journal Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics.

Volume (Year): 163 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 552-573

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Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(200712)163:4_552:bstaha_2.0.tx_2-2

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  1. Heckman, James J., 2000. "Policies to foster human capital," Research in Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 3-56, March.
  2. Iris Bohnet & Bruno S. Frey & Steffen Huck, . "More Order with Less Law: On Contract Enforcement, Trust, and Crowding," IEW - Working Papers 052, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  7. Harvey James, 2002. "The Trust Paradox: A Survey of Economic Inquiries Into the Nature of Trust and Trustworthiness," Microeconomics, EconWPA 0202001, EconWPA.
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  9. Fali Huang, 2007. "To Trust or to Monitor : A Dynamic Analysis," Labor Economics Working Papers 22444, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  10. Geoffrey Brennan & Werner Güth & Hartmut Kliemt, 2003. "Trust in the Shadow of the Courts," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 159(1), pages 16-, March.
  11. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
  12. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
  13. Oren Bar-Gill & Chaim Fershtman, 2005. "Public Policy with Endogenous Preferences," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 7(5), pages 841-857, December.
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