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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. Brennan, G. & Güth, W. & Kliemt, H., 1997. "Trust in the Shadow of the Courts," Discussion Paper 1997-89, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Harvey James, 2002. "The Trust Paradox: A Survey of Economic Inquiries Into the Nature of Trust and Trustworthiness," Microeconomics 0202001, EconWPA.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Kandel, E. & Lazear, E.P., 1990. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Papers 90-07, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  7. Werner Güth & Hartmut Kliemt & Bezalel Peleg, 2000. "Co-evolution of Preferences and Information in Simple Games of Trust," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 1(1), pages 83-110, 02.
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