Analysing the radius of trust in rural Cameroon

Survey data have generally found trust to be much lower in Africa than in developed countries. This paper analyses the extent to which trust decreases with social distance, using data from a survey conducted in a village in rural Cameroon. Participants are asked a number of questions about trust in people with varying levels of social distance: fellow group members, fellow villagers, people from neighbouring villages and people in general. The results indicate that the level of trust diminishes as social distance (the radius of trust) increases. There is more trust in fellow group members than there is in other villagers, and more trust in fellow villagers than there is in those outside the village. The paper also shows that a substantial part of the variation in levels of trust can be explained by observable individual characteristics of the respondents. Divorced persons are significantly less trusting, while increases in the number of years lived in the village are associated with increases in the levels of trust. People who have completed primary education are significantly more trusting. In only one case (trust in fellow villagers) is age significantly correlated with trust, and its effect is negative. Income is significantly positively correlated with trust in fellow villagers and trust in people from neighbouring villages as well, but uncorrelated with trust in people in general. Respondents’ personal characteristics are insignificantly correlated with trust as social distance increases. App., bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]

Title: Analysing the radius of trust in rural Cameroon
Author: Etang, Alvin
Year: 2010
Periodical: Journal of African Economies (ISSN 0963-8024)
Volume: 19
Issue: 5
Pages: 691-717
Language: English
Geographic term: Cameroon
External link: http://jae.oxfordjournals.org/content/19/5/691.full.pdf
Abstract: Survey data have generally found trust to be much lower in Africa than in developed countries. This paper analyses the extent to which trust decreases with social distance, using data from a survey conducted in a village in rural Cameroon. Participants are asked a number of questions about trust in people with varying levels of social distance: fellow group members, fellow villagers, people from neighbouring villages and people in general. The results indicate that the level of trust diminishes as social distance (the radius of trust) increases. There is more trust in fellow group members than there is in other villagers, and more trust in fellow villagers than there is in those outside the village. The paper also shows that a substantial part of the variation in levels of trust can be explained by observable individual characteristics of the respondents. Divorced persons are significantly less trusting, while increases in the number of years lived in the village are associated with increases in the levels of trust. People who have completed primary education are significantly more trusting. In only one case (trust in fellow villagers) is age significantly correlated with trust, and its effect is negative. Income is significantly positively correlated with trust in fellow villagers and trust in people from neighbouring villages as well, but uncorrelated with trust in people in general. Respondents’ personal characteristics are insignificantly correlated with trust as social distance increases. App., bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]