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Cultures of Trust and Institutions of Freedom

This project entails two interrelated core themes: Can institutions embodying economic freedom, contrary to the skepticism of some, contribute to fairness, trust, equality and responsibility; and can cultures of trust, that enable cooperation, self-governance and human flourishing, emerge and grow in free, open societies? These themes will be addressed, in more specific forms, in a number of empirical studies, and the results will be highlighted at conferences, seminars and through media activities.

Project participants
Niclas Berggren

Christian Bjørnskov

This project seeks to answer two basic questions: Can institutions embodying economic freedom contribute to a society of free, responsible, and equal individuals; and how can cultures of trust, that enable peaceful cooperation, self-governance, and human flourishing, emerge and grow?

The main activity for answering these questions is interdisciplinary research firmly grounded in the methods of the quantitative social sciences, informed by the theoretical lens of institutional economics and political economy. This project is needed because of a lack of knowledge about the consequences of economic freedom and about what causes trust, an important cultural characteristic, to emerge and flourish.

At the end of the project, we expect the following deliverables to have been produced: seven original papers by the core researchers; twelve commissioned papers; two conferences and three policy seminars; consistent media participation, as well as social-media and blog coverage.

To the extent that our research hypotheses are confirmed, the impact of the project will be to shift the thinking of both scholars and political decision-makers to make them appreciate, through novel and credible findings, how market-oriented institutions can bring about desired outcomes and how trust can be stimulated.

Financed by: The John Templeton Foundation (2021–2024)