Theory and Decision

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 311–333 | Cite as

Trust, inequality and the market

  • Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap
  • Jonathan H. W. Tan
  • Daniel John Zizzo


This article examines, experimentally, whether inequality affects the social capital of trust in non-market and market settings. We consider three experimental treatments, one with equality, one with inequality but no knowledge of the income of other agents, and one with inequality and knowledge. Inequality, particularly when it is known, has a corrosive effect on trusting behaviours in this experiment. Agents appear to be less sensitive to known relative income differentials in markets than they are in the non-market settings, but trust in markets appears generally more vulnerable to the introduction of inequality than in the non-market setting.


Trust Income inequality Market Social capital 

JEL Classification

C72 C91 Z13 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap
    • 1
  • Jonathan H. W. Tan
    • 2
  • Daniel John Zizzo
    • 1
  1. 1.University of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.University of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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