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Inequality and Trust in Sweden: Some Inequalities are More Harmful than Others

We present new evidence on the influence of income inequality on generalized trust. Using individual panel data from Swedish counties together with an instrumental variable strategy, we find that differences in disposable income, and especially differences among people in the bottom half of the income distribution, are associated with lower trust. The relationship between income inequality and trust is particularly strong for people with a strong aversion against income differentials. We also find that the proportion of people born in a foreign country is negatively associated with trust.

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Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 106.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 18 Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Public Economics, 2008, pages 348-365.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0106
Contact details of provider: Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: 08-441 59 00
Fax: 08-441 59 29
Web page: http://www.ratio.se/Email:


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  1. Zak, Paul J & Knack, Stephen, 2001. "Trust and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 295-321, April.
  2. Knaap, Thijs, 2006. "Trade, location, and wages in the United States," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 595-612, September.
  3. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Who trusts others?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 207-234, August.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation In Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904, August.
  5. Edin, P.-A. & Fredriksson, P., 2000. "LINDA - Longitudinal INdividual DAta for Sweden," Papers 2000-19, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  6. Eliana La Ferrara, . "Inequality and Group Participation: Theory and Evidence from Rural Tanzania," Working Papers 161, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  7. Andrew Leigh, 2006. "Trust, Inequality, and Ethnic Heterogeneity," CEPR Discussion Papers 511, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  8. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Why Has the Natural Rate of Unemployment Increased over Time?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 75-142.
  9. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Delhey, Jan & Newton, Kenneth, 2002. "Who trusts? The origins of social trust in seven nations," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Social Structure and Social Reporting FS III 02-402, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  11. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  12. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1999. "The Changing Distribution of Job Satisfaction," NBER Working Papers 7332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve & Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia, 1999. "Inequality and economic growth: the perspective of the new growth theories," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9908, CEPREMAP.
  14. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  15. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-88, November.
  16. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. Carlsson, Mikael & Eriksson, Stefan & Gottfries, Nils, 2006. "Testing Theories of Job Creation: Does Supply Create Its Own Demand?," Working Paper Series 2006:7, Uppsala University, Department of Economics, revised 23 Oct 2008.
  18. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
  19. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
  20. repec:use:tkiwps:0530 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Pierre Cahuc & André Zylberberg, 2004. "Labor Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026203316x, August.
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