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Historical Trust Levels Predict Current Welfare State Design

Research output: Working paperResearch


  • Wp 09-144

    Final published version, 318 KB, PDF document

Using cross-sectional data for 76 countries, we apply instrumental variable techniques based on pronoun drop, temperature and monarchies to demonstrate that historical trust levels predict several indicators of current welfare state design, including universalism and high levels of regulatory freedom. We argue that high levels of trust and trustworthiness are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for societies to develop successful universal welfare states that would otherwise be highly vulnerable to free riding and fraudulent behavior. Our results do not exclude positive feedback from welfare state universalism to individual trust, although we claim that the important causal link runs from historically trust levels to current welfare state design.
Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationStockholm
PublisherThe Ratio Institute
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • Social trust, Welfare state

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