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The Right Amount of Trust

Author

Listed:
  • Jeffrey V. Butler
  • Paola Giuliano
  • Luigi Guiso

Abstract

We investigate the relationship between individual trust and individual economic performance. We find that individual income is hump-shaped in a measure of intensity of trust beliefs. Our interpretation is that highly trusting individuals tend to assume too much social risk and to be cheated more often, ultimately performing less well than those with a belief close to the mean trustworthiness of the population. However, individuals with overly pessimistic beliefs avoid being cheated, but give up profitable opportunities, therefore underperforming. The cost of either too much or too little trust is comparable to the income lost by forgoing college. Our findings hold in large-scale international survey data, as well as inside a country with high-quality institutions, and are also supported by experimental findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey V. Butler & Paola Giuliano & Luigi Guiso, 2016. "The Right Amount of Trust," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(5), pages 1155-1180.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jeurec:v:14:y:2016:i:5:p:1155-1180.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/jeea.12178
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics
    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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