Free-Market Capitalism, Interpersonal Trust, and Trust in Political Institutions: A Multilevel Empirical Analysis, 1994–2014

Authors: de Soysa, Indra; Jakobsen, Tor Georg; Holum, Marthe
Journal: Journal of Globalization Studies. Volume 8, Number 2 / November 2017

Trust is important in terms of achieving economic efficiency, as it reduces the need for costly systems of supervision and control with regards to transactions in a society. Employing data from the World Values Survey and the European Values Study 1994–2014 in combination with country-year data on the degree of economic freedom, we examine the propositions in multilevel analyses. We find very little effect either way between the degree of economic freedom and interpersonal trust and trust in political institutions. However, western countries benefit from greater economic freedom in terms of increasing trust. While previous research might be putting too great an emphasis on free markets for generating trust, we find no support for the proposition suggesting that greater economic freedoms in recent years reduce societal trust generally, or in political institutions, particularly in the West.

Keywords: social trust, capitalism, economic freedom, globalization.