Cevat Giray Aksoy, Antonio Cabrales, Mathias Dolls, Ruben Durante, Lisa Windsteiger, 13 June 2021

The evolution of altruism is an intensely studied phenomena in both the natural and social sciences. This column presents novel evidence from a large-scale survey conducted in August 2020 across nine European countries measuring how trust, reciprocity, and altruism are affected by economic interests, shared values, and a major health crisis. It finds that while altruism is enhanced by shared identities or crises, interpersonal trust is not. Common economic interests have little impact on altruism or reciprocity, suggesting that economic concerns alone cannot build social cohesion.

Geraldine Blanchard-Rohner, Bruno Caprettini, Dominic Rohner, Hans-Joachim Voth, 01 June 2021

As COVID-19 vaccination programmes accelerate across the industrialised world, vaccination hesitancy is rapidly emerging as a key challenge. This column explores the relationship between pre-pandemic intensive care unit capacity and attitudes towards the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK. Despite widespread pre-pandemic scepticism about vaccines in general, willingness to become vaccinated against COVID-19 overall was strikingly high, even amongst those who rejected vaccines before the pandemic. The results point to a surprising synergy: where the emergency care systems of public healthcare providers were less strained during the early days of the COVID-19 epidemic, vaccination hesitancy is systematically less today. 

Jonathan Muringani, Rune Fitjar, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 20 April 2021

Social capital matters for economic growth and development, but different types of social capital matter in very different ways. This column examines how differences in social capital across Europe shape regional economic growth. While ‘bridging’ social capital is linked to higher regional economic growth, ‘bonding’ social capital leads to lower growth. This is particularly the case in less-developed regions and in regions with a lower endowment of human capital. As the level of education increases, the need for bridging social capital declines, implying that bridging social capital and human capital are, to a certain extent, substitutes.

Anita Shet, Baldeep K. Dhaliwal, David Bloom, 08 January 2021

Despite the excitement and hopeful anticipation among the general public, the level of mistrust surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines is deeply concerning. This column argues that a ‘bottom-up’ approach to administering the vaccines – where the community is a resource and an active partner, not just a passive recipient of services – is critical for rebuilding trust and addressing inequities. It is also important to communicate that the vaccination effort is not just about saving lives, but also about improving livelihoods.

Olivier Bargain, Ulugbek Aminjonov, 23 October 2020

As a second wave of COVID-19 threatens the health of communities across the globe, governments are considering another round of lockdowns. But the success of those policies will depend largely on the levels of compliance, which will in turn depend on the confidence that citizens have in their leaders. This column summarises the results of recent studies examining the effect of civic trust during the first wave of the pandemic. The evidence points to a higher rate of compliance with stay-at-home policies in regions with a higher level of long-term trust in politicians.

Gianmarco Daniele, Andrea F.M. Martinangeli, Francesco Passarelli, Willem Sas, Lisa Windsteiger, 01 October 2020

The COVID-19 shock prompted an economic collapse unrivalled in peacetime. Using a large survey conducted during the pandemic’s first wave, this column measures the impact of the crisis on socio-political attitudes in Italy, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands. The results show severe drops in interpersonal and institutional trust, as well as in support for the EU and a tax-financed welfare state. But they also suggest a rallying effect around scientific expertise and incumbent governments that – together with populist positions losing ground – hints at a growing demand for competence.

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Barry Eichengreen, Orkun Saka, 15 June 2020

What will be the political legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic? This column uses data from the 2006-2018 Gallup World Polls to show that epidemic exposure during an individual’s ‘impressionable years’ of 18 to 25 has a persistent negative effect on trust in political institutions and leaders, especially in democracies. Combined with other evidence that trust is important for limiting the spread of infection, this raises the spectre of a circular, self-reinforcing spiral in which poor public health policy leads to deeper distrust, further undermining the effectiveness of public health policy.

Zuzana Fungáčová, Eeva Kerola, Laurent Weill, 28 March 2020

Trust in banks is a core determinant of financial system effectiveness. While it is well-established that trust in banks fell sharply following the Global Crisis and affected individual decision-making and risk preferences, the longer-term impact of banking crises on trust in banks has not yet been explored. This column looks at the effect of experiencing a banking crisis on people’s long-term confidence in banks. It shows that living through a banking crisis diminishes trust in banks, especially for more mature individuals, and that the loss of trust is long-lasting. 

Thorvaldur Gylfason, 19 February 2020

Felix Roth, Lars Jonung, 13 December 2019

On the 20th anniversary of the euro, this column traces public support for the single currency and public trust in the ECB. The crisis years slightly dented support for the euro while trust in the ECB fell sharply. The recovery increased support for the euro, but while trust in the ECB has also risen, it remains below its pre-crisis levels. Unemployment is the key factor driving public support for the euro as well as trust in the ECB. 

Sergei Guriev, 29 October 2019

The rise of populism is one of the most important political, social, and economic phenomena in recent years. This column introduces a new Vox debate which focuses on four broad questions:  What is populism and how can we quantify its rise? What are the drivers of the recent rise of populism? What are the implications for economic growth, for other socioeconomic outcomes, and for political institutions? And if the recent rise of populism is a problem, what should be done about it?

Basil Halperin, Ben Ho, Ian Muir, John List, 02 October 2019

Even economies built on market capitalism are built on relationships. And when trust within relationships fray, apologies can help to restore them. This column describes the first large-scale apology experiment done in the field. Using the Uber platform to better understand the costs of apologising, the study asked why and in what cases apologies helped restore relationships. It finds that apologies can indeed work but are sometimes costly.

Stephanie Bergbauer, Jean-Francois Jamet, Hanni Schölermann, Livio Stracca, Carina Stubenrauch, 20 September 2019

Recent successes of populist movements in Europe might seem to reflect eroded trust in the EU’s institutions. This column asks what global lessons can be drawn from recent research on Euroscepticism at the ECB and elsewhere. It argues that taking citizens’ concerns seriously and addressing salient issues, building on a sense of togetherness, and caring about public trust should inspire a course of action at the global level. Insufficient progress along these dimensions has played a key role not only in Brexit, but also in the backlash against the multilateral world order underpinning globalisation.

Pauline Grosjean, 09 September 2019

How did WWII shape our views about the state, and about each other? This column, part of a Vox debate on the economics of WWII, uses individual-level data from more than 35,000 individuals in 35 countries to shed light on how wartime victimisation has shaped political and social preferences in the long run. Personal or family exposure to war violence has left a negative and enduring imprint on levels of political trust throughout Europe and Central Asia, regardless of the outcome or nature of the conflict. It also spurred collective action, but of a dark nature – one associated with further erosion of social and political trust.

Lucrezia Reichlin, 25 July 2019

Lucrezia Reichlin argues that in an increasingly globalised world, there is more need than ever for Europeans to work together in order to make our currencies robust, to cope with the refugee crisis, and to defend ourselves from the threat of protectionism.

Arancha Gonzalez, Marion Jansen, 04 July 2019

Economic governance is confronting the unfolding of three tectonic shifts: a digital revolution, an environmental revolution, and a social revolution. We are seeing the return of geopolitics. This column introduces a new book from CEPR, the International Trade Centre and the European University Institute that collects insights from 28 women policymakers and thought leaders on how to shape a system of global governance capable of managing those shifts and of rebuilding trust that voters appear to have lost in many countries.

Pablo Brañas, Antonio Cabrales, Guillermo Mateu, Anxo Sánchez, Angela Sutan, 22 May 2019

Pre-negotiation interactions, such as shared meals, are viewed as a valuable means to build trust and rapport so as to improve the outcomes of the negotiation. Even tax authorities acknowledge this – business meals tend to be tax-deductible, at least in part. This column puts this folk wisdom to the test using a controlled negotiation simulation experiment with MBA students. It finds that there is no difference in negotiation outcomes whether or not pre-negotiation socialising took place.

Alison Booth, Xin Meng, 25 March 2019

The literature examining the effect of conflict on trust and trustworthiness has reached contradictory conclusions. This column studies the long-term behavioural impact of the Cultural Revolution in China, which was a major in-group conflict. It finds that the children and grandchildren of those who were mentally or physically abused during the Revolution are less trusting, less trustworthy, and less likely to be competitively inclined relative to peers whose parents/grandparents experienced the Cultural Revolution but were not directly mistreated. 

Simon Wren-Lewis, 14 December 2018

Nicolò Fraccaroli, Alessandro Giovannini, Jean-Francois Jamet, 04 October 2018

Central bank independence is a cornerstone of monetary policy, but since the Global Crisis many have questioned the legitimacy of giving policymaking power to unelected officials. The column analyses the way that the ECB's accountability framework functions, and finds the ECB and the European Parliament have increased the intensity and focus of their exchanges since the crisis. Despite populism, the tone of exchanges has remained positive.

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