Yann Algan, Sergei Guriev, Elias Papaioannou, Evgenia Passari, 12 December 2017

A wave of populism has been gaining ground in the West since 2012. This column uses regional data for 26 European countries to explore how the impact of the Great Recession on labour markets has affected populist voting, political attitudes, and trust. The results indicate a strong link between unemployment and voting for non-mainstream (especially populist) parties. Unemployment is also correlated with increasing distrust of national and European parliaments.

Gylfi Zoega, 03 November 2017

The vote for Brexit and the election of Trump are just two examples of the recent rise in populism. This column discusses how support for populist parties in Europe is closely correlated with a lack of trust in national parliaments and in the European Parliament. The EU must convince voters that it is acting in their interests and taking their concerns into account. At the same time, a distinction has to be made between decisions that should be taken at the EU level and those that are better left in the hands of the member states.

Elena Cettolin, Sigrid Suetens, 13 September 2017

Studies have shown that ethnic discrimination occurs in many countries across Europe and the rest of the world, but distinguishing between discrimination based on ‘stereotypes’ and on ‘tastes’ is difficult. This column presents results from an experiment in the Netherlands that isolated taste-based discrimination. The results suggest that native Dutch participants reciprocate trust placed in them by immigrants of non-Western less than they reciprocate the trust of fellow Dutch natives. Since trustworthiness involves no behavioural risk, this implies that discrimination is the consequence of not only stereotyping, but also of tastes.

Christian Dustmann, Barry Eichengreen, Sebastian Otten, André Sapir, Guido Tabellini, Gylfi Zoega, 23 August 2017

Recent years have seen a decline in trust in established political institutions and parties and a surge in support for populist movements and policies, not least in Europe where scepticism and, in some places, outright hostility towards the European Union is evident. This column introduces the first report in CEPR’s Monitoring International Integration series, which analyses the roots of the decline in trust in both national and European political institutions and asks whether, as a result of these developments, the EU is at risk of disintegration.

Antonio Cabrales, Antonio M. Espín, Praveen Kujal, Stephen Rassenti, 09 May 2017

Trust in our partners is important for economic transactions, but time pressure might affect the level of trust we place in others. This column reports the results of an experimental game in which individuals choose how much trust to place in partners who either must respond instinctively, or have time to reflect. Less-reflective personality types incorrectly trusted their partners least when those partners had time to think. This has implications for policies which, for example, impose cooling-off periods on negotiations. 

Jeffrey Butler, Paola Giuliano, Luigi Guiso, 04 November 2016

The economic consequences of individuals being persistently mistaken in their trust beliefs can be as large as those from not going to college. This column sheds light on how trust assessments are made. It documents a large role for moral considerations, which may ultimately contribute to the persistence of mistakes in trusting behaviour.

John Helliwell, 06 September 2016

Discussions about inequality tend to focus on the distribution of income and wealth. This column argues for a shift in focus towards another source of inequality – subjective wellbeing. Wellbeing inequality has grown significantly for the world as a whole and in eight of the ten global regions. One way to address this inequality is to increase social trust.

Markus Brückner, Alberto Chong, Mark Gradstein, 29 August 2015

Economists have been exploring the relationship between prosperity and trust since the 1950s. This column explores the possible relationships, arguing that enhanced economic prosperity acts as a signal that fellow citizens are trustworthy. The more optimistic assessment then breeds trust among individual citizens. This theory suggests the possibility of a mutual feedback between trust and economic growth.

Francesco D'Acunto, Marcel Prokopczuk, Michael Weber, 26 February 2015

Discrimination can be costly for both victims and perpetrators. This column uses the variation of historical Jewish persecution across German counties to proxy for localised distrust in financial markets. Persecution reduces the average stock market participation rate of households by 7.5%–12%. This striking effect is stable over time, across cohorts, and across education levels. The effect survives when comparing only geographically close counties. It suggests that the persecution of minorities may negatively affect societal wealth even far into the future through the channel of intergenerationally transmitted investment norms.

Daniel Houser, John List, Marco Piovesan, Anya Samek, Joachim Winter, 23 February 2015

Dishonesty is a pervasive and costly phenomenon. This column reports the results of a lab experiment in which parents had an opportunity to behave dishonestly. Parents cheated the most when the prize was for their child and their child was not present. Parents cheated little when their child was present, but were more likely to cheat in front of sons than in front of daughters. The latter finding may help to explain why women attach greater importance to moral norms and are more honest.

Maxim Ananyev, Sergei Guriev, 08 February 2015

The negative effects of recessions are not limited to consumption. Among others, they could also be harmful to preferences and values. This column uses recent evidence from Russia to argue that recessions can result in a sizeable decrease in interpersonal trust. This effect is transient in places where the fall in trust is small. In these regions, trust snaps back to pre-crisis levels as GDP recovers. In the places where fall in trust is large, the effect is persistent. Even after a recovery, trust remains 10 percentage points below the pre-crisis level.

John Helliwell, Haifang Huang, Shawn Grover, Shun Wang, 30 November 2014

Evaluations of wellbeing complement and encompass established measures of economic progress. This column presents findings on the way governance affects wellbeing. The results indicate that people are more satisfied with their lives in countries with better governance quality. Confidence and trust in public institutions play an important role in this finding. Additional benefits to wellbeing arise when nations are able to better weather economic and other crises.

Niklas Bengtsson, Per Engström, 28 October 2014

Critics of the ‘audit society’ and the so-called ‘new public management’ doctrines have gained momentum in recent years. At the centre of the critique is the so-called motivation crowding-out hypothesis. This column presents evidence from a field experiment involving Swedish non-profits. Far from crowding out intrinsic motivation, the threat of an audit improved all aspects of efficiency.

Yann Algan, Pierre Cahuc, Marc Sangnier, 17 July 2014

It is commonly argued that the persistence of large welfare states in Scandinavian countries is due to the trustworthiness of their citizens. This column shows that the relationship between trust and the size of the welfare state is twin peaked. Untrustworthy individuals support generous welfare states because they expect to benefit without bearing the costs, whereas civic-minded individuals only support generous welfare states when surrounded by people they trust.

Holger Görg, Olivier Godart, Aoife Hanley, Christiane Krieger-Boden, 08 July 2014

Many firms are replacing traditional working hours with more flexible arrangements, reflecting new thinking on employee motivation. This column presents evidence from Germany that trust-based working time is associated with increased innovation. However, trust-based working hours also contribute to the blurring of workers’ professional and private lives, and may lead to excessive overtime. Careful design of trust-based working arrangements is required to reap the innovations gains while avoiding the health pitfalls.

Owen McDougall, Ashoka Mody, 17 May 2014

Turnout in the 2014 European Parliament elections is seen as a critical test for EU democracy. This column presents some predictions. Trust in the ECB – rather than in the European Parliament itself – has been associated with higher turnout in previous elections. Macroeconomic conditions are also important – where a country’s fiscal problems are greater, voters are more inclined to vote.

John Helliwell, Shun Wang, Jinwen Xu, 12 March 2014

Social norms have been shown to have important effects on economic outcomes. This column discusses new evidence showing that social norms are deeply rooted in long-standing cultures, but do evolve in reaction to major changes. It draws on a fully global sample involving migrants in more than 130 countries, using seven waves of the Gallup World Poll.

Sascha Bützer, Christina Jordan, Livio Stracca, 23 November 2013

Since the advent of the Eurozone sovereign-debt crisis, economic commentators have drawn attention to macroeconomic imbalances within the Eurozone. This column presents evidence on the link between macroeconomic imbalances and differences in culture – or more specifically, interpersonal trust. A conservative estimatation suggests that a one standard-deviation increase in trust reduces macroeconomic imbalances by about a quarter of a standard deviation. Moreover, differences in interpersonal trust can explain a fifth of the variation in intra-Eurozone imbalances.

Olivier Blanchard, Florence Jaumotte, Prakash Loungani, 18 October 2013

The state of labour markets in advanced economies remains dismal despite recent signs of growth. This column explains the IMF’s logic behind the advice it provided on labour markets during the Great Recession. It argues that flexibility is crucial both at the micro level, i.e. on worker reallocation, and at the macro level, e.g. on collective agreements. It suggests that the IMF approach is close to the consensus among labour-market researchers.

Jeffrey Butler, Paola Giuliano, Luigi Guiso, 18 December 2012

Trust among strangers is at the heart of well-functioning market economics. This column argues that individual trust beliefs are related to individual trustworthiness, which in turn is related to the values parents transmit to their children. It adds that if someone forms trust beliefs about unknown people by attributing to others his own trustworthiness, he is bound to make mistakes by being either too naïve or too wary.

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