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date: 27 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Data from three large international surveys—the Gallup World Poll, the World Values Survey and the European Social Survey—are used to estimate income-equivalent values for social trust, with a likely lower bound equivalent to a doubling of household income. Second, the more detailed and precisely measured trust data in the European Social Survey (ESS) are used to compare the effects of different types of social and political trust. While social trust and trust in police are most important, there are significant additional benefits from trust in three aspects of the institutional environment: the legal system, parliament and politicians. The total well-being value of a trustworthy environment is estimated to be larger than that flowing from social trust alone. Third, the ESS data show that being subject to discrimination, ill-health or unemployment is much less damaging to those living in trustworthy environments. These resilience-increasing features of social trust hence lessen well-being inequality by channeling the largest benefits to those at the low end of the well-being distribution.

Keywords: subjective well-being, happiness, social trust, resiliency, inequality, international survey evidence

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