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Assessing trust through social capital? A possible experimental answer

  • Migheli, Matteo

    ()

Trust is an important variable in economics, as several transactions are based on it; unfortunately it is difficult to measure. The recent economic literature on social capital shows a positive association between this concept and trust. As social capital is easier to measure than trust is, this paper analyzes the possibility of assessing trust measuring social capital using experimental economics. A basic trust game is played in three Western European countries with undergraduate students; a questionnaire measures their level of social capital, as time spent within social networks. This measure is stronger and more precise than the ones generally used. In particular this paper firstly measures social capital as the intensity of a membership to a voluntary organization, while the extant literature generally considers only the membership per se. Secondly the use of an experiment instead of a questionnaire allows for constructiong a measure of trust which is in principle continuous. Thirdly to play an experiment allows for observing the behaviour of the participants better than by the means of a survey. The results are supportive of the fact that trust can be assessed through social capital, although the presence of a strong geographical effect has to be accounted for.

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File URL: http://polis.unipmn.it/pubbl/RePEc/uca/ucapdv/migheli133.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS in its series POLIS Working Papers with number 119.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uca:ucapdv:119
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://polis.unipmn.it

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  1. Miguel, Edward & Gugerty, Mary Kay, 2005. "Ethnic diversity, social sanctions, and public goods in Kenya," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2325-2368, December.
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  9. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
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  11. Ottone, Stefania & Ponzano, Ferruccio, 2005. "An Extension to the Model of Inequity Aversion by Fehr and Schmidt," POLIS Working Papers 51, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  12. Durlauf, Steven N. & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2005. "Social Capital," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1639-1699 Elsevier.
  13. Nancy Buchan & Rachel Croson, 1999. "Gender and Culture: International Experimental Evidence from Trust Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 386-391, May.
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  16. Bruni, Luigino & Sugden, Robert, 2000. "Moral canals: trust and social capital in the work of Hume, Smith and Genovesi," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(01), pages 21-45, April.
  17. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital And Predict Financial Decisions," Working Papers 909, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  18. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Mahmud, Minhaj & Martinsson, Peter, 2004. "Does stake size matter in trust games?," Working Papers in Economics 140, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
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