Working Paper No. 994

Trust, Welfare States and Income Equality: What Causes What?

Published: December 12, 2013Pages: 42Keywords: Social trust; Inequality; Welfare StateJEL-codes: H10; D63; D69
Published version

Trust, Welfare States and Income Equality: What Causes What? Andreas Bergh and Christian Bjørnskov

The cross-country correlation between social trust and income equality is well documented, but few studies examine the direction of causality. We show theoretically that by facilitating cooperation, trust may increase efficiency and lead to more equal outcomes, while the feedback from inequality to trust is ambiguous. Using a structural equations model estimated on a large country sample, we find that trust has a positive effect on both market and net income equality. Larger welfare states lead to higher net equality but neither net income equality nor welfare state size seems to have a causal effect on trust. We conclude that while trust facilitates welfare state policies that may reduce net inequality, this decrease in inequality does not increase trust.

Andreas Bergh


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Christian Bjørnskov


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Sick of Inequality?

An Introduction to the Relationship between Inequality and Health

Sick of Inequality.jpg

In this book Andreas Bergh, Therese Nilsson, IFN and Lund University, and Daniel Waldenström, IFN and Paris School of Economics, France, review the latest research on the relationship between inequality and health. What does inequality mean for our health? Does increasing income inequality affect outcomes such as obesity, life expectancy and subjective well-being?


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