Who Trusts Others? Community and Individual Determinants of Social Capital in Bangladesh

This paper presents new evidence on the individual and community-specific determinants of social trust using data from 96 villages in Bangladesh, a country with high levels of institutional corruption and poor governance. We find perceived institutional trust to be positively correlated with inter-personal trust. At the same time, there is significant social distance amongst various faith groups in our data: Hindus (religious minorities) trust Muslims and other non-Hindus more than Muslims trust Hindus and other non-Muslims. We also find no evidence that Hindus are distrustful of the wider society in general. The lack of trust towards Hindus (and other non-Muslims) is significantly correlated with Islamic school attendance amongst Muslim respondents whilst religiosity appears to play no role. These findings are robust to control for a wide range of individual and community level correlates and do not proxy for religious differences in institutional trust. Lastly, when compared to religion, the effects of institutional trust and local economic development (including the presence of NGO activity) are modest.

Authors: Asadullah, M. Niaz
Type: Working Paper
Year: 2013