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Does trust extend beyond the village? Experimental trust and social distance in Cameroon

  • Alvin Etang Ndip


    (Department of Economics, Yale University)

  • David Fielding


    (Department of Economics, University of Otago)

  • Stephen Knowles


    (Department of Economics, University of Otago)

In this paper we use experimental data collected in rural Cameroon to quantify the effect of social distance on trust and altruism. Our measure of social distance is one that is relevant to everyday economic interactions: subjects in a Trust Game play with fellow villagers or with someone from a different village. We find that Senders in a Trust Game pass significantly more money to Recipients from their own village than to Recipients from a different village. To test for the possibility that Senders are motivated by unconditional kindness, they also play a Triple Dictator Game. We find that Senders pass significantly more money on average in the Trust Game than in the Triple Dictator Game, confirming that transfers in the Trust Game are partly motivated by Trust. However, there is also a social distance effect in the Triple Dictator Game, and around one third of the social distance effect in the Trust Game is due to greater unconditional kindness to fellow villagers. Results from a Risk Game suggest that Trust Game transfers are uncorrelated with attitudes to risk.

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Paper provided by University of Otago, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0907.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision: Jul 2009
Handle: RePEc:otg:wpaper:0907
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  1. Stephen Leider & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat & Quoc-Anh Do, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1815-1851, November.
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  8. Alvin Etang & David Fielding & Stephen Knowles, 2008. "Survey Trust, Experimental Trust and ROSCA Membership in Rural Cameroon," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 4408, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
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  18. Gari Walkowitz & Clemens Oberhammer & Heike Hennig-Schmidt, 2004. "Experimenting over a Long Distance - A method to facilitate intercultural experiments," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse17_2004, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Dec 2005.
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