Trustworthiness and Social Capital in South Africa: Analysis of Actual Living Standards Data and Artifactual Field Experiments
This article measures trustworthiness using an experimental protocol designed to distinguish this social norm from purely altruistic preferences. Experimental participants were drawn from South African households surveyed by a longitudinal living standards study. This procedure not only permits analysis of the impact of experimentally measured social norms on real-world outcomes but also provides a rich array of data that can be used to control for initial conditions and prior possibilities that might be spuriously correlated with norms. Interestingly, altruism has more robust effects on living standards than does trustworthiness, though both are statistically signficant. This finding motivates a deeper reconsideration on how trusts works, especially in societies like South Africa’s, where the boundaries of trust are by a history of social exclusion and segregation.
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