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Trust and Well-being

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  • John F. Helliwell
  • Shun Wang

Abstract

This paper presents new evidence linking trust and subjective well-being, based primarily on data from the Gallup World Poll and cycle 17 of the Canadian General Social Survey (GSS17). Because several of the general explanations for subjective well-being examined here show large and significant linkages to both household income and various measures of trust, it is possible to estimate income-equivalent compensating differentials for different types of trust. Measures of trust studied include general social trust, trust in co-workers, trust in neighbours, and trust in police. In addition, some Canadian surveys and the Gallup World Poll ask respondents to estimate the chances that a lost wallet would be returned to them if found by different individuals, including neighbours, police and strangers. Our results reveal sufficiently strong linkages between trust and well-being to support much more study of how trust can be built and maintained, or repaired where it has been damaged. We therefore use data from the Canadian GSS17 to analyze personal and neighbourhood characteristics, including education, migration history, and mobility, that help explain differences in trust levels among individuals. New experimental data from Canada show that wallets are far more likely to be returned, even by strangers in large cities, than people expect.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15911.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Publication status: published as Trust and Well-Being John F. Helliwell and Shun Wang International Journal of Wellbeing, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 42-78.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15911

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Cited by:
  1. Díaz Serrano, Lluís & Rodríguez Pose, Andrés, 2011. "Decentralization, happiness and the perception of institutions," Working Papers 2072/151812, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
  2. Asadullah, Mohammad Niaz & Chaudhury, Nazmul, 2012. "Subjective well-being and relative poverty in rural Bangladesh," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 940-950.
  3. Herian, Mitchel N. & Tay, Louis & Hamm, Joseph A. & Diener, Ed, 2014. "Social capital, ideology, and health in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 30-37.
  4. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre, 2013. "Trust, Growth and Well-being: New Evidence and Policy Implications," IZA Discussion Papers 7464, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Christian Grund & Christine Harbring, 2013. "Trust and Control at the Workplace Evidence from Representative Samples of Employees in Europe," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 233(5-6), pages 619-637, October.
  6. Luis Diaz-Serrano & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 2012. "Decentralization, Subjective Well-Being And The Perception Of Institutions," ERSA conference papers ersa12p586, European Regional Science Association.
  7. Berggren, Niclas & Daunfeldt, Sven-Olov & Hellström, Jörgen, 2012. "Social trust and central-bank independence," HUI Working Papers, HUI Research 66, HUI Research.

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