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Trust and Well-being

Author

Listed:
  • John F. Helliwell
  • Shun Wang

Abstract

This paper presents new evidence linking trust and subjective well-being, based primarily on data from the Gallup World Poll and cycle 17 of the Canadian General Social Survey (GSS17). Because several of the general explanations for subjective well-being examined here show large and significant linkages to both household income and various measures of trust, it is possible to estimate income-equivalent compensating differentials for different types of trust. Measures of trust studied include general social trust, trust in co-workers, trust in neighbours, and trust in police. In addition, some Canadian surveys and the Gallup World Poll ask respondents to estimate the chances that a lost wallet would be returned to them if found by different individuals, including neighbours, police and strangers. Our results reveal sufficiently strong linkages between trust and well-being to support much more study of how trust can be built and maintained, or repaired where it has been damaged. We therefore use data from the Canadian GSS17 to analyze personal and neighbourhood characteristics, including education, migration history, and mobility, that help explain differences in trust levels among individuals. New experimental data from Canada show that wallets are far more likely to be returned, even by strangers in large cities, than people expect.

Suggested Citation

  • John F. Helliwell & Shun Wang, 2010. "Trust and Well-being," NBER Working Papers 15911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15911
    Note: HC PE POL
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15911.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Is well-being U-shaped over the life cycle?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1733-1749, April.
    2. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    3. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    4. Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
    5. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-484, July.
    6. Yip, Winnie & Subramanian, S.V. & Mitchell, Andrew D. & Lee, Dominic T.S. & Wang, Jian & Kawachi, Ichiro, 2007. "Does social capital enhance health and well-being? Evidence from rural China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 35-49, January.
    7. Wen-Chun Chang, 2009. "Social capital and subjective happiness in Taiwan," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 36(8), pages 844-868, July.
    8. Adolfo Morrone & Noemi Tontoranelli & Giulia Ranuzzi, 2009. "How Good is Trust?: Measuring Trust and its Role for the Progress of Societies," OECD Statistics Working Papers 2009/3, OECD Publishing.
    9. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Diaz-Serrano, Luis & Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés, 2011. "Decentralization, Happiness and the Perception of Institutions," IZA Discussion Papers 5647, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Luis Diaz‐Serrano & Andrés Rodríguez‐Pose, 2012. "Decentralization, Subjective Well‐Being, and the Perception of Institutions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 179-193, May.
    3. John F. Helliwell, 2011. "How Can Subjective Well-being Be Improved?," New Directions for Intelligent Government in Canada: Papers in Honour of Ian Stewart,in: Fred Gorbet & Andrew Sharpe (ed.), New Directions for Intelligent Government in Canada: Papers in Honour of Ian Stewart, pages 283-304 Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    4. Asadullah, Mohammad Niaz & Chaudhury, Nazmul, 2012. "Subjective well-being and relative poverty in rural Bangladesh," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 940-950.
    5. Grund Christian & Harbring Christine, 2013. "Trust and Control at the Workplace: Evidence from Representative Samples of Employees in Europe," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 233(5-6), pages 619-637, October.
    6. Lindsay Richards, 2016. "For Whom Money Matters Less: Social Connectedness as a Resilience Resource in the UK," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 509-535, January.
    7. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre, 2014. "Trust, Growth, and Well-Being: New Evidence and Policy Implications," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 2, pages 49-120 Elsevier.
    8. Berggren, Niclas & Daunfeldt, Sven-Olov & Hellström, Jörgen, 2014. "Social trust and central-bank independence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 425-439.
    9. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2014. "Trust, Well-Being and Growth: New Evidence and Policy Implications," Post-Print hal-01169659, HAL.
    10. Herian, Mitchel N. & Tay, Louis & Hamm, Joseph A. & Diener, Ed, 2014. "Social capital, ideology, and health in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 30-37.
    11. Okulicz-Kozaryn Adam, 2015. "When Place is Too Big: Happy Town and Unhappy Metropolis," ERSA conference papers ersa15p148, European Regional Science Association.
    12. Mavridis, Dimitris, 2015. "Ethnic Diversity and Social Capital in Indonesia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 376-395.
    13. Lindsay Richards, 2016. "For Whom Money Matters Less: Social Connectedness as a Resilience Resource in the UK," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 509-535, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies

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