NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Determinants of Trust

Alberto Alesina, Eliana La Ferrara

NBER Working Paper No. 7621
Issued in March 2000
NBER Program(s):   PE

Both individual experiences and community characteristics influence how much people trust each other. Using data drawn from US localities we find that the strongest factors that reduce trust are: i) a recent history of traumatic experiences, even though the passage of time reduces this effect fairly rapidly; ii) belonging to a group that historically felt discriminated against, such as minorities (black in particular) and, to a lesser extent, women; iii) being economically unsuccessful in terms of income and education; iv) living in a racially mixed community and/or in one with a high degree of income disparity. Religious beliefs and ethnic origins do not significantly affect trust. The latter result may be an indication that the American melting pot at least up to a point works, in terms of homogenizing attitudes of different cultures, even though racial cleavages leading to low trust are still quite high.

download in pdf format
   (426 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (426 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7621

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Sapienza, Toldra, and Zingales w13387 Understanding Trust
La Porta, Lopez-de-Silanes, Shleifer, and Vishny w5864 Trust in Large Organizations
Glaeser, Laibson, Scheinkman, and Soutter w7216 What is Social Capital? The Determinants of Trust and Trustworthiness
Alesina and La Ferrara w7155 Participation in Heterogeneous Communities
Alesina and La Ferrara w10313 Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us