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Trust and social capital

Updated on 23 June 2021 Published

Citation

Algan Yann (2018). “Trust and social capital”. In Joseph E. Stiglitz, Jean-Paul Fitoussi & Martine Durand (eds.), For Good Measure Advancing Research on Well-being Metrics Beyond GDP, 283-320. Paris: OECD.


Abstract

This chapter of the OECD book For Good Measure : Advancing Research on Well-being Metrics Beyond GDP discusses the role of trust in social progress and people’s well-being. It reviews the different definitions and types of trust, including rational trust, moral trust and social preferences, as well as the state of existing statistics on trust. The chapter argues in favour of the definition of trust provided by the OECD Guidelines on Measuring Trust as “a person’s belief that another person or institution will act consistently with their expectations of positive behaviour”. It looks at why trust matters for the well-being of people and the country where they live, and assesses the available evidence on its role in supporting social and economic relations. It analyses trust between individuals (interpersonal trust) and trust in institutions (institutional trust) as determinants of economic growth, social cohesion and well-being, as a crucial component for policy reform and for the legitimacy and sustainability of any political system. Finally, the chapter stresses the importance of integrating survey measures of trust into the routine data collection activities of National Statistical Offices, and of implementing quasi-experimental  measures of trust and other social norms based on representative samples of the population as a complement to traditional survey questions.