This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Can You Trust Other People?

The social world is built on trust and Max Roser at Oxford has a lengthy new analysis of relationships between trust and other sociodemographic characteristics of nations.
Global comparisons of trust attitudes around the world today suggest very large time-persistent cross-country heterogeneity. In one extreme, in countries such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, more than 60% of respondents in the World Value Survey think that people can be trusted. And in the other extreme, in countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru, less than 10% think that this is the case.
Of particular interest is the finding that the level of trust in a country (expressed as the percent of people who say that most people can be trusted) is positively related to per person income--higher incomes tend to be associated with higher levels of trust, as you can see in the graph below:

Roser argues that this is not simply a correlation, but that there are almost certainly causal forces at work. Societies with higher levels of trust are organized in ways that help to create higher levels of income. How can trust be built? Education may be one way, as Roser suggests. That could be an encouraging sign for the future, given the projected rise in education throughout the world, which Roser wrote about earlier this year.

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