Public Choice

, Volume 157, Issue 1–2, pp 269–286

Does social trust determine the size of the welfare state? Evidence using historical identification


DOI: 10.1007/s11127-012-9944-x

Cite this article as:
Bjørnskov, C. & Svendsen, G.T. Public Choice (2013) 157: 269. doi:10.1007/s11127-012-9944-x


Most modern welfare states offer an extensive array of services and benefits that are wholly or partly financed by tax revenue. One missing link in explaining the long-run sustainability of such comprehensive welfare states could be the already-existing stock of trust. Indeed, our cross-country results suggest that trust determines the size of welfare states as well as three features that are arguably necessary for their preservation: high levels of political confidence, strong legal institutions protecting private property rights, and low levels of bureaucratic corruption.


Social trust Welfare state US immigrants Historical identification 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Bjørnskov
    • 1
  • Gert Tinggaard Svendsen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Economics and BusinessAarhus UniversityÅbyhøjDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark

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