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Do strong family ties inhibit trust?

  • Ermisch, John
  • Gambetta, Diego

We provide direct evidence that people with strong family ties have a lower level of trust in strangers than people with weak family ties, and argue that this association is causal. We also investigate the mechanisms that underlie this effect, and provide evidence that these revolve around the level of outward exposure: factors that limit exposure limit subjects’ experience as well as motivation to deal with strangers. Our findings are based on experimental data derived from a new design of the ‘trust game’ combined with panel survey data, both drawn from a near-representative sample of the British population.

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File URL: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/iser/2008-37.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2008-37.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2008-37
Contact details of provider: Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
Phone: 44-1206-872957
Fax: 44-1206-873151
Web page: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/Email:


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Order Information: Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
Web: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/publications/ Email:


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  1. Bellemare, Charles & Kröger, Sabine, 2003. "On Representative Trust," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2003,27, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846, August.
    • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. repec:ese:iserwp:2007-32 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Iris Bohnet & Heike Harmgart & Steffen Huck & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2005. "Learning Trust," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 322-329, 04/05.
  5. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Juergen Schupp & Gert Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Working Papers 2096, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-34 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Eckel, Catherine C. & Wilson, Rick K., 2004. "Is trust a risky decision?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 447-465, December.
  8. Alesina, Alberto & Giuliano, Paola, 2009. "Family Ties and Political Participation," IZA Discussion Papers 4150, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Martin Kocher & Matthias Sutter, 2007. "Trust and trustworthiness across different age groups," Artefactual Field Experiments 00110, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Iris Bohnet & Fiona Greig & Benedikt Herrmann & Richard Zeckhauser, 2007. "Betrayal Aversion: Evidence from Brazil, China, Oman, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States," Discussion Papers 2007-08, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
  12. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2004. "Trust, risk and betrayal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 467-484, December.
  13. Ermisch, John & Gambetta, Diego, 2006. "People's Trust: The Design of a Survey-based Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2216, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-33 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Peter Morrison, 1971. "Chronic movers and the future redistribution of population: A longitudinal analysis," Demography, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 171-184, May.
  16. Annette Jäckle & Emanuela Sala & Stephen P. Jenkins & Peter Lynn, 2005. "Validation of Survey Data on Income and Employment: The ISMIE Experience," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 488, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  17. Michèle Belot & John Ermisch, 2009. "Friendship ties and geographical mobility: evidence from Great Britain," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 172(2), pages 427-442.
  18. John Ermisch & Diego Gambetta & Heather Laurie & Thomas Siedler & S. C. Noah Uhrig, 2009. "Measuring people's trust," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 172(4), pages 749-769.
  19. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital And Predict Financial Decisions," Working Papers 909, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  20. Iris Bohnet & Steffen Huck, 2004. "Repetition and Reputation: Implications for Trust and Trustworthiness When Institutions Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 362-366, May.
  21. Sapienza, Paola & Toldra Simats, Anna & Zingales, Luigi, 2007. "Understanding Trust," CEPR Discussion Papers 6462, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  22. Belot, Michèle & Ermisch, John, 2006. "Friendship Ties and Geographical Mobility: Evidence from the BHPS," IZA Discussion Papers 2209, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. Abigail Barr, 2003. "Trust and expected trustworthiness: experimental evidence from zimbabwean villages," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 614-630, 07.
  24. Bellemare, Charles & Kröger, Sabine, 2004. "On Representative Social Capital," IZA Discussion Papers 1145, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  25. Laura Schechter, 2005. "Traditional trust measurement and the risk confound: An experiment in rural paraguay," Artefactual Field Experiments 00106, The Field Experiments Website.
  26. Sutter, Matthias & Kocher, Martin G., 2007. "Trust and trustworthiness across different age groups," Munich Reprints in Economics 18182, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  27. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  28. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  29. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital and Predict Financial Decisions," Working Papers 182, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  30. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  31. Aviv Nevo & Adam Rosen, 2008. "Identification with imperfect instruments," CeMMAP working papers CWP16/08, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  32. Bohnet, Iris & Croson, Rachel, 2004. "Trust and trustworthiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 443-445, December.
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