Trust and Cultural Diversity

Tuesday February 19th, Sjoerd Beugelsdijk (RUG) will present "Trust and Cultural Diversity".

February 19, 2013
CPB-office, Van Stolkweg 14, The Hague

Time: 13.00-14.00 hours
Location: CPB-office, Van Stolkweg 14, The Hague

Presentation: Sjoerd Beugelsdijk (RUG)

Discussant: Stephan Heblich (University of Stirling)

Language: English

Registration:  Please register by sending an email to

Abstract subject:
There is growing evidence that the degree to which people trust one another plays an important role in the process of economic development. Motivated by this finding, scholars have subsequently turned toward understanding why some countries are characterized by high levels of generalized trust and others by low levels. One key finding of this literature is that societies that are stratified along ethno-linguistic lines - which is oftentimes interpreted as reflecting cultural diversity - are less trusting. We re-assess the role of cultural diversity for trust-building by employing a newly developed set of measures of heterogeneity in values orientation. We show that it is not the degree of ethno-linguistic heterogeneity that matters for the level of trust in a society, but the extent to which values, and in particular political values, in a society are generally shared, which may cross ethnic and linguistic groups. We demonstrate this link between trust and value diversity both in cross-sectional data and over time and show that our results are robust to the inclusion of various other determinants of trust discussed in the literature. The finding of this paper sheds new light on the literature on the determinants of trust, and it is important as the policy implications differ radically. Whereas the current consensus on the negative role of ethno-linguistic fractionalization for trust-building leaves very little room for public policy initiatives other than stricter controls of international migration, our study suggests that public policy interventions directed towards integrating different ethnicities and language groups and fostering common values in society can be of crucial importance for creating trust and thus promoting economic development.

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