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Religion, Minority Status and Trust: Evidence from a Field Experiment


  • Gautam Gupta
  • Minhaj Mahmud
  • Pushkar Maitra
  • Santanu Mitra
  • Ananta Neelim


It is now well accepted that trust is crucial for economic and social development. There is also evidence that religion strongly affects how individuals act when interacting with others. The same is true of status. Using a field experiment conducted in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, two regions, which are similar in terms of socioeconomic characteristics, ethnicity and language but have different religious composition, this paper examines whether religion or minority status affect trusts among different segments of the population. Our results show that it is minority status rather than religion that drives behavior. In both countries individuals belonging to the minority group (Muslims in West Bengal and Hindus in Bangladesh) exhibit positive in-group bias in trust behavior, while individuals belonging to the majority group in both countries (Hindus in West Bengla and Muslims in Bangladesh) show positive out-group bias in trustworthiness. The driver of this bias is however different across the two countries. Finally we find that the extent of in-group bias is systematically higher for religious individuals than non-religious individuals.

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  • Gautam Gupta & Minhaj Mahmud & Pushkar Maitra & Santanu Mitra & Ananta Neelim, 2013. "Religion, Minority Status and Trust: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Monash Economics Working Papers 28-13, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2013-28

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    Cited by:

    1. Chakravarty, Surajeet & Fonseca, Miguel A. & Ghosh, Sudeep & Marjit, Sugata, 2016. "Religious fragmentation, social identity and cooperation: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment in India," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 265-279.
    2. Tom Lane, 2015. "Discrimination in the laboratory: a meta-analysis," Discussion Papers 2015-03, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.

    More about this item


    Trust; Religion; Status; In-group and Out-group; Field Experiment; South Asia.;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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