How Durable are Social Norms? Immigrant Trust and Generosity in 132 Countries
This paper estimates the global prevalence of social trust and generosity among immigrants. We combine individual and national level data from immigrants and native-born respondents in more than 130 countries, using seven waves of the Gallup World Poll (2005–2012). We find that migrants tend to make social trust assessments that mainly reflect conditions in the country where they now live, but they also reveal a significant influence from their countries of origin. The latter effect is one-third as important as the effect of local conditions. We also find that the altruistic behavior of migrants, as measured by the frequency of their donations in their new countries, is strongly determined by social norms in their new countries, while also retaining some effect of the levels of generosity found in their birth countries. To show that the durability of social norms is not simply due to a failure to recognize new circumstances, we demonstrate that there are no footprint effects for immigrants’ confidence in political institutions. Taken together, these findings support the notion that social norms are deeply rooted in long-standing cultures, yet are nonetheless subject to adaptation when there are major changes in the surrounding circumstances and environment.
Helliwell and Xu's research is supported by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR). Wang gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Korea Development Institute (KDI) School of Public Policy and Management. We thank the Gallup Organization for access to data from the Gallup World Poll, and we are also grateful for advice and comments from Christian Bjørnskov, Gale Muller, and Robert Putnam. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
John F. Helliwell & Shun Wang & Jinwen Xu, 2016. "How Durable are Social Norms? Immigrant Trust and Generosity in 132 Countries," Social Indicators Research- An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 201-219, August. citation courtesy of