National income and trust

Markus Brückner, Alberto Chong, Mark Gradstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a journalpeer-review


We explore whether national economic prosperity enhances mutual generalized trust. This is done using a panel data of multiple waves of the World Values Surveys, whereby national income levels are instrumented for using exogenous oil price shocks. We find significant and substantial effects of national income on the level of trust in the economy. In particular, a 1% increase in national income tends to cause an average increase of 1 percentage point (or more) in the likelihood that a person becomes trustful. We also identify crime and corruption as potential mechanisms that may lead to the reported causal effect and explore heterogeneous effects across individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-314
Number of pages22
JournalReview of Development Economics
Issue number1
Early online date7 Oct 2020
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • corruption
  • crime
  • national income
  • oil price shocks
  • trust


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