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Early-life Circumstances Predict Measures of Trust among Adults: Evidence from Hunger Episodes in Post-War Germany

Author

Listed:
  • Maximiliane Hörl
  • Iris Kesternich
  • James P. Smith
  • Joachim Winter

Abstract

Can a major shock in childhood permanently shape trust? We consider a hunger episode in Germany after WWII and construct a measure of hunger exposure from official data on caloric rations set monthly by the occupying forces providing regional and temporal variation. We correlate hunger exposure with measures of trust using data from a nationally representative sample of the German population. We show that individuals exposed to low caloric rations in childhood have significantly lower levels of trust as adults. This finding highlights that early-life experiences can have long-term effects in domains other than health, where such effects are well-documented.

Suggested Citation

  • Maximiliane Hörl & Iris Kesternich & James P. Smith & Joachim Winter, 2016. "Early-life Circumstances Predict Measures of Trust among Adults: Evidence from Hunger Episodes in Post-War Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 6093, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6093
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    trust; endogenous preferences; hunger; war;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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