Nicolo 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.

Nathan Nunn, Nancy Qian, Jaya Wen, 29 September 2018

Cultural values and beliefs have an impact on social and economic development, but the interplay between culture and political institutions is still not well understood. This column examines the effect of trust on political stability in democratic and non-democratic regimes, specifically in the face of severe economic downturns. It finds that democratic regimes with high levels of trust are much less likely to experience leader turnover than low-trust countries, while there is no effect among non-democracies, and that countries with higher levels of trust experience faster economic growth in the years immediately following a recession. 

Richard Thakor, Robert Merton, 21 August 2018

Trust in financial products and institutions is widely recognised as being essential for financial markets to function efficiently. This column argues that trust in financial institutions may have a first-order impact on whether non-bank (fintech) firms can survive when competing against traditional banks. When trust is lost and reputation becomes important, the cost of funding rises more for fintech firms than for banks, as financiers see that banks have a stronger reputational incentive to make good loans. So while banks may be able to survive a loss of trust, fintech lenders will be forced to shut down.

Luigi Guiso, Helios Herrera, Massimo Morelli, Tommaso Sonno, 18 May 2018

There has been some disagreement over the roots of the recent rise of populism in Europe. This column examines variations in exposure to economic shocks and in ability to react to them in different regions of Europe to show that the cultural backlash against globalisation has been driven by economic woes. In regions where globalisation was present but that have benefited economically, there has been no such backlash and the populist message has retreated. The message is clear: if one wants to defeat populism, one must defeat first economic insecurity.

Sara Lowes, Eduardo Montero, 13 May 2018

Delivery of health aid can be jeopardised by distrust at the local level. This column uses evidence from French military campaigns in Cameroon and former French Equatorial Africa to show that a significant reason for this distrust may be aid recipients’ historical experiences of colonial medical campaigns. Building and maintaining trust in medicine should remain a priority for modern health interventions.

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.

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