Matteo Migheli, Trust, Gender and Social Capital: Experimental Evidence from Three Western European Countries

Still more on the link between gender and trust and its potential implications for board governance.  Matteo Migheli (University of Turin and Catholic University of Leuven) has posted an article to SSRN entitled, Trust, Gender and Social Capital: Experimental Evidence from Three Western European Countries.  His study looks at differences between men and women in trusting and investment in social capital.  He seeks to determine if lower levels of trusting by women can be attributed to a lower investment in social capital (i.e., networking).  The study conducted in three different European countries finds that women invest less in social capital, but the lower levels of social capital do not fully explain gender differences in trust.  Here is the abstract:

The economic literature has discussed the links between trust and gender, and trust and social capital. Given that some empirical evidence shows also that gender and trust are somehow related and specifically women tend to trust less than men, I try to investigate the effect of social capital on generalized trust, controlling also for the “gender effect”. This latter could be due to the fact that women are less prone to invest in social capital than men, as the literature highlights. Using the tools of experimental economy, I performed the same experiment in Oslo, Leuven and Torino, in order to obtain a mixed Western European sample. In this one I included Scandinavia, Central and Mediterranean Europe. My measure of social capital is more complete than the usual one: I add informal networks (such as phone conversations, time spent with friends, etc.) to formal ones (basically voluntary associations). Analysing the obtained results through both comparisons of conditional means and econometrics, I find out some influence of social capital on trust. Furthermore, also after controlling for social capital, gender differences persist still. Thus I can conclude that behavioural differences due to gender are not a mere reflex of different investments in social capital. I also found evidence that some kinds of formal and informal networks exert positive influence on generalized trust.


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