The sharing economy (peer-to-peer based sharing or renting activities coordinated through community-based online services) is typically assumed to be closely related to social trust. The two sharing economy companies Airbnb and Flipkey exist in over 100 countries, allowing us to construct a measure of sharing economy penetration to test against social trust and other potential explanations.
Results indicate that sharing economy penetration is promoted by ICT-infrastructure and economic openness, whereas the correlation with social trust is negative and often statistically signicant. Our conclusion is that sharing economy services do not require high levels of social trust to succeed. Rather, they provide institutions that facilitate trust-intensive economic activities also where social trust is low.