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A note on the theory and measurement of trust in explaining differences in economic growth

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  • Sjoerd Beugelsdijk

Abstract

This paper takes issue with the trend to attribute differences in economic growth rates to differences in interpersonal trust. I discuss the World Values Survey (WVS) measure that is used to operationalise trust at the macro level. I hypothesise that there is a mismatch between the theoretical argument and the empirical operationalisation of trust. Instead of measuring trust, the WVS measure may instead proxy the well-functioning of institutions. I provide circumstantial evidence for this thesis by a principal components analysis of trust and institutions and a robustness test of Zak and Knack's (2001. Trust and growth, Economic Journal, vol. 111, 295--321) seminal study on trust and economic growth. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Cambridge Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 371-387

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Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:30:y:2006:i:3:p:371-387

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Cited by:
  1. Christian Thöni & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2010. "Microfoundations of Social Capital," NRN working papers 2010-19, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  2. Wang, Lanlan & Gordon, Peter, 2011. "Trust and institutions: A multilevel analysis," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 583-593.
  3. Horváth, Roman, 2013. "Does trust promote growth?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 777-788.
  4. Christian Bjørnskov, 2010. "How does social trust lead to better governance? An attempt to separate electoral and bureaucratic mechanisms," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(1), pages 323-346, July.
  5. Blanca Delgado-Márquez & Nuria Hurtado-Torres & J. Aragón-Correa, 2013. "On the Measurement of Interpersonal Trust Transfer: Proposal of Indexes," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 433-449, August.
  6. Thomas Farole & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Michael Storper, 2007. "Social capital, rules, and institutions: A cross-country investigation," Working Papers 2007-12, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
  7. Akcomak, Semih, 2009. "Bridges in social capital: A review of the definitions and the social capital of social capital researchers," MERIT Working Papers 002, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  8. Christian Bjørnskov & Pierre-Guillaume Méon, 2010. "The productivity of trust," Working Papers CEB 10-042, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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