OECD Statistics Working Papers

The OECD Statistics Working Paper Series - managed by the OECD Statistics and Data Directorate – is designed to make available in a timely fashion and to a wider readership selected studies prepared by staff in the Secretariat or by outside consultants working on OECD projects. The papers included are of a technical, methodological or statistical policy nature and relate to statistical work relevant to the organisation. The Working Papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Joint Working Papers:

Testing the evidence, how good are public sector responsiveness measures and how to improve them? (with OECD Public Governance Directorate)

Measuring Well-being and Progress in Countries at Different Stages of Development: Towards a More Universal Conceptual Framework (with OECD Development Centre)

Measuring and Assessing Job Quality: The OECD Job Quality Framework (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Forecasting GDP during and after the Great Recession: A contest between small-scale bridge and large-scale dynamic factor models (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Decoupling of wages from productivity: Macro-level facts (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Which policies increase value for money in health care? (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Compiling mineral and energy resource accounts according to the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) 2012 (with OECD Environment Directorate)


Measures of interpersonal trust

Evidence on their cross-national validity and reliability based on surveys and experimental data

Interpersonal trust (i.e. trust in other people) is an issue of high interest to both policy-makers and researchers seeking to understand what drives social and economic outcomes. However, for trust to usefully inform policy and analysis it is necessary to have valid and reliable measures of it. Despite a large body of evidence on the relationship between trust and other social and economic outcomes, evidence on the validity of trust from experimental data is conflicting. In particular, while many studies find no correlation between survey measures of trust and experimental measures at an individual level, other studies suggest a significant, if modest, correlation at the country level. This article examines the relationship between survey and experimental measures of trust in others using a large dataset containing aggregate experimental and survey measures of trust from 167 studies conducted in 36 countries. Importantly, the dataset also includes individual measures of both survey and behavioural trust in seven countries, and data from two panel studies with repeated survey measures of trust. Using these multiple data sources, the paper investigates the degree to which survey measures of interpersonal trust are valid at both an individual and cross-country level. The paper shows the existence of a significant correlation between survey and experimental measures of interpersonal trust at the country-level. Evidence on measurement errors in existing small-scale studies underscores the importance of developing better quality data from both surveys and experiments.


Keywords: Interpersonal trust, trust game, measurement
JEL: Z10: Other Special Topics / Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology / Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology: General; C91: Mathematical and Quantitative Methods / Design of Experiments / Design of Experiments: Laboratory, Individual Behavior; C83: Mathematical and Quantitative Methods / Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs / Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
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