Do Natural Disasters Enhance Societal Trust?
In this paper we investigate the long- and short-run relationships between disasters and societal trust. A growing body research suggests that factors such as income inequality, ethnic fractionalization, and religious heritage are important determinants of social capital in general, and trust in particular. We present new cross-country and panel data evidence of another important determinant of trust—the frequency of natural disasters. Frequent naturally occurring events such as storms require (and provide opportunity for) societies to work closely together to meet their challenges. While natural disasters can have devastating human and economic impacts, a potential spillover benefit of greater disaster exposure may be a more tightly knit society.
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