Trust, inequality and the market

Theory and Decision 74 (3):311-333 (2013)
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Abstract

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.

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