Does trust extend beyond the village? Experimental trust and social distance in Cameroon
In this paper we use experimental data collected in rural Cameroon to quantify the effect of social distance on trust and altruism. Our measure of social distance is one that is relevant to everyday economic interactions: subjects in a Trust Game play with fellow villagers or with someone from a different village. We find that Senders in a Trust Game pass significantly more money to Recipients from their own village than to Recipients from a different village. To test for the possibility that Senders are motivated by unconditional kindness, they also play a Triple Dictator Game. We find that Senders pass significantly more money on average in the Trust Game than in the Triple Dictator Game, confirming that transfers in the Trust Game are partly motivated by Trust. However, there is also a social distance effect in the Triple Dictator Game, and around one third of the social distance effect in the Trust Game is due to greater unconditional kindness to fellow villagers. Results from a Risk Game suggest that Trust Game transfers are uncorrelated with attitudes to risk.
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