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Trust and identity in a small, post-socialist, post-crisis society

  • Bjornskov, Christian
  • Bogetic, Zeljko
  • Hillman, Arye L.
  • Popovic, Milenko

The principal focus in the substantial literature on impediments to economic development has been on the inadequacies of policies and governance. However, successful economic development requires effectiveness of markets and incentives for investment, which in turn require trust. This paper reports on trust in a development context. The paper uses trust experiments, a post-experiment survey, and econometric analysis relating trust to identity and other personal attributes in the setting of Montenegro, a small, recently-independent, post-socialist, post-crisis society. External validity was sought by providing sufficient material reward to balance identity-related expressive motives and by having two groups of subjects, one usual university students and another group that, while also students, was somewhat older and had had greater market or commercial experience. The paper reviews cultural priors that can be expected to affect trust and distinguishes between generalized trust that can be socially beneficial and particularized trust that can be disadvantageous for development. The empirical results suggest that trust among private individuals is not an impediment to development in Montenegro. As a result, policy reform can improve economic and social outcomes. However, the results redirect the focus to issues of governance and political entrenchment as potential explanations for impediments to development.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6828.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2014
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6828
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