All for All: Equality and Social Trust

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Independent Variable


Standard Error

t Ratio


Receives means tested benefit





Standard living better in 20 years





Have no say in politics





In-group trust





Worry less about inequality





Talk to neighbors










High school education





College education





Own home





Child should be curious





Child should be considerate














* p < .10 ** p < .05 *** p < .01 **** p < .0001

-2*Log Likelihood Ratio = 2063.578 Estimated R2 = .299 N = 1753

Percent Predicted Correctly: Probit Model 70.0 Null Model: 54.5

Effect is the difference in estimated probabilities from the minimum to the maximum values of the independent variable (except for age, where we use the range 18-75). For a description of the data and variables, see Uslaner (2002, ch. 4).


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* Part of this research was supported by a grant to Rothstein from the Swedish Science Council (421-2003-1929) and for the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (F0925/1999). Rothstein is also grateful for the support from the Society – Opinion – Media Institute at Göteborg University and in particular to its leaders Sören Holmberg, Lennart Nilsson and Lennart Weibull. Part of this research was also supported by a grant to Uslaner from the Russell Sage Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation under the Social Dimensions of Inequality Project. Some of the data come from the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, which is not responsible for any of our interpretations. Uslaner is also grateful to the General Research Board, University of Maryland—College Park, for support on related projects and to assistance from M. Mitchell Brown and crucial discussions on Central and Eastern Europe with Gabriel Badescu of Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Both Rothstein and Uslaner would like to thank Janós Kornai and Susan Rose-Ackerman for making it possible for us to participate in the research project “Trust and Honesty in the Light of Post-Socialist Transition” at the Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Study.

1 Source: Social Science Citation Index.

2 Source: World Value Surveys:

3 See for example the reports from the Irish Government 2003, “The Policy Implications of Social Capital”; and from the Swedish Government 2002 “En uthållig demokrati”. On Australia see Winter (2000). The World Bank has also been very active in this area, see Woolcook and Narayan (2000).

4 This is how the agents of the time, both union leaders and the leaders from the employers’ federation, described what happened in the mid-1930s (see Rothstein 2005, ch. 7). Of particular importance was that the leaders of the Social Democratic party could make “credible commitments” towards the Employers’ Federation that they would not use there political power over the state administration to favor the union side, for example in labor disputes.

5 If we would have a choice, governments in high inequality/low social trust societies should opt for high quality universal education programs. There are several reasons for this. One is that universal public education creates both a sense of equal opportunity and generates more economic equality. Secondly, it should give parents a sense of optimism for the future or their children, and since optimism is strongly connected to social trust, this would have positive effects. Thirdly, such programs would bring children and young people from different ethnic, religious and social groups together. Results from social psychology shows that this is one important generator of social trust (Yamagishi 2001).

1 The data can be obtained at

2 For the logic explaining why we eliminate countries with a legacy of Communism, see Uslaner (2002, 228-230).


 This is notan issue of case selection, since we get an R2 of .560 of the regression of the Galbraith measure on trust for the 30 cases with non-missing values on both Gini coefficents.


 The R2 for the 1963 measure with levels of trust in the 1990s is .653 (N = 33) compared to .560 for the 1996 index of inequality. The regression coefficients (.022 and .020, respectively) are almost identical.

5 The model is based upon Uslaner (2002), 100. We dropped trust in government as a predictor since it is likely endogenous to receipt of means-tested benefits (see Soss, 1999). For a description of the measures, see Uslaner (2002), 99-101.


 The education data come from the Levine-Loayza-Beck data set available at The data on educational inequality come from Thomas, Wang, and Fan (2000).


 On the effect of conflict on trust, see Uslaner (2002, ch. 6) and Uslaner, Canetti-Nissim, and Pedazhur (2004). We only consider changes in trust for countries with less than 40 percent trust in 1981 because the fluctuations in trust in these surveys seems to be random over time rather than systematic and the changes in inequality are not large.

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