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Gender Differences in the Link between Income and Trust Levels: Evidence from Longitudinal Data


  • Bilson, Jessica R.

    () (University of Western Australia)

  • Jetter, Michael

    () (University of Western Australia)

  • Kristoffersen, Ingebjørg

    () (University of Western Australia)


We investigate the effect of individual income on interpersonal trust levels, using longitudinal survey data for 22,219 Australians over the 2005-2014 period. Our results produce two key insights. First, we demonstrate the importance of accounting for individual-level fixed effects, as the income coefficient goes from positive and statistically significant in a pooled regression to negative and statistically significant in a fixed effects panel model. Second, this negative effect of income on trust holds only for men, and not for women. This result appears to be concentrated among males who are young and moving from no income to positive income, but employment status is not the driving factor. Further, we explore a potential channel via psychological characteristics and find evidence of men reporting greater levels of neuroticism and fretfulness following an increase in income but, again, women do not. In turn, neuroticism and fretfulness are robust predictors of decreased trust levels; these additional findings are based on cross-sectional variation only, since both these variables are available in only one of the survey waves to date.

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  • Bilson, Jessica R. & Jetter, Michael & Kristoffersen, Ingebjørg, 2017. "Gender Differences in the Link between Income and Trust Levels: Evidence from Longitudinal Data," IZA Discussion Papers 10585, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10585

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jetter, Michael & Kristoffersen, Ingebjørg, 2017. "Financial Shocks and the Erosion of Interpersonal Trust: Evidence from Longitudinal Data," IZA Discussion Papers 11204, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    gender differences; income levels and trust; interpersonal trust; neuroticism;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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