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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Journal of African Economies
Title Trusting neighbours or strangers in a racially divided society: Insights from survey data in South Africa
Volume 22
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Page numbers 136-162
In this paper, we investigate reported measures of trust in South Africa, collected in the 2008 National Income Dynamics Study. In particular, we compare responses to two questions asked of all adult respondents about the likelihood that a lost wallet or purse will be returned either by ‘someone who lives close by’ or by a ‘complete stranger’. Although reported levels of trust are very low, we find that South African adults are significantly more likely to report trusting neighbours than strangers. We use ordered probit regressions to estimate the correlates of these two measures of trust and in particular, to probe race differences in trust. Consistent with studies from the USA and from South Africa, we find considerable racial variation in reported trust. In comparison with whites, other population groups in South Africa are significantly less likely to report trusting people who live close by. However, these race differences are dramatically reduced once differences in personal and neighbourhood income are controlled for. In contrast, race differences in trust of strangers are smaller, and they are even reversed among black South Africans, who appear more trusting than other population groups of strangers.

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