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Free to Trust: Economic Freedom and Social Capital

  • Niclas Berggren
  • Henrik Jordahl

We present new evidence on how generalized trust is formed. Unlike previous studies, we look at the explanatory power of economic institutions, we use newer data, we incorporate more countries, and we use instrumental variables in an attempt to handle the causality problem. A central result is that legal structure and security of property rights (area 2 of the Economic Freedom Index) increase trust. The idea is that a market economy, building on voluntary transactions and interactions with both friends and strangers within the predictability provided by the rule of law, entails both incentives and mechanisms for trust to emerge between people. Copyright 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Kyklos.

Volume (Year): 59 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 141-169

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Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:59:y:2006:i:2:p:141-169
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  1. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-91, September.
  2. Werner Güth & Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "The Coevolution of Trust and Institutions in Anonymous and Non-anonymous Communities," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-07, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  5. Alesina, Alberto F & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2000. "Who Trusts Others?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2646, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Bruni, Luigino & Sugden, Robert, 2000. "Moral canals: trust and social capital in the work of Hume, Smith and Genovesi," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(01), pages 21-45, April.
  7. Christian Bjornskov, 2003. "The Happy Few: Cross--Country Evidence on Social Capital and Life Satisfaction," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(1), pages 3-16, February.
  8. 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.
  9. Sjoerd Beugelsdijk & Henri L.F. de Groot & Anton B.T.M. van Schaik, 2004. "Trust and economic growth: a robustness analysis," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(1), pages 118-134, January.
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