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Changes in Inequality and Generalized Trust in Europe

Abstract

This paper analyses the determinants of trust in a pool of 34 European countries over the period 2002–2012. We find that income inequality is negatively related with generalized trust when we analyze the pooled data of individuals with multilevel models, confirming a well-established result in the analysis of cross-country differences in trust. However, we are unable to find the same significant relationship when we estimate fixed effects models with a panel dataset composed by countries. It is plausible that unobserved effects may account for the significant and negative relationship between economic inequality and trust at the cross-sectional level. In contrast, in the fixed effects models, we find negative and significant effects of ethnic and linguistic fractionalization, discrimination (general or based on migrant status) and crime rates on trust.

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Notes

  1. In our dataset, the Cronbach’ alpha of the three items of general trust is 0.784.

  2. The question in the ESS survey is “What language or languages do you speak most often at home?” (first mentioned).

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Correspondence to Javier Olivera.

Appendix

Appendix

See Fig. 4.

Fig. 4
figure 4

Distribution of trust by country in extreme years (unconditional score). Note In the case of Estonia, Iceland and Slovakia, the initial year is 2004; and in the case of Greece and Israel, the final year is 2010

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Olivera, J. Changes in Inequality and Generalized Trust in Europe. Soc Indic Res 124, 21–41 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-014-0777-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-014-0777-5

Keywords

  • Generalized trust
  • Income inequality
  • Europe
  • Social attitudes

JEL Classification

  • D31
  • D63
  • Z13