Monday, August 29, 2016

Our dystrustful future

The always perspicacious, always accessible Z-Man:
In order to have a modern economy, you have to have a certain degree of trust between strangers so that people will plan for the future, take risks and so forth. You cannot have a modern economy in a low-trust society.
The percentages of respondents, by decade, who say that "most people can be trusted" as opposed to "you can never be too careful" (n = 37,407):

In the words of a great dissident, we are doomed.

GSS variables used: YEAR(1970-1979)(1980-1989)(1990-1999)(2000-2010)(2010-2014), TRUST(1-2)


Joshua Sinistar said...

Remember this and smile. Without social trust, the government is just another gang of thieves without enough guns.

Audacious Epigone said...


Exactly. They become a big kid on the block, but they're no longer the big kid on the block. If it gets to the point of putting down middle America violently, what percentage of the military crosses over to protect their own tribes from the rapacious state? More than we might think, though the increasing Diversity! in the the US armed forces is one way the state is mitigating this.

Hokie said...

You should have made the y-axis start at 0, it looks manipulative the way it is currently shown with the y-axis starting at 25.

Random Dude on the Internet said...

Obviously the solution is more diversity. You can never have enough diversity.

Anonymous said...

True, still:

"Dr Hugh-Jones said there was increasing interest in the cultural and behavioural roots of economic development. He found that while the honesty of countries related to their economic growth—poor countries were less honest than rich ones—this relationship was stronger for growth that took place before 1950.

"I suggest that the relationship between honesty and economic growth has been weaker over the past 60 years and there is little evidence for a link between current growth and honesty," said Dr Hugh-Jones. "One explanation is that when institutions and technology are underdeveloped, honesty is important as a substitute for formal contract enforcement. Countries that develop cultures putting a high value on honesty are able to reap economic gains. Later, this economic growth itself improves institutions and technology, making contracts easier to monitor and enforce, so that a culture of honesty is no longer necessary for further growth."

Interestingly, the Japan showed a pattern of high dishonesty in gambling, high honesty in a test of knowledge, while China was dishonest on both. The UK, predictably, is "fair play" in both. The USA was in the middle on gambling, honest on the test of knowledge.

We're hardly post-trust, post-honesty by any means though.

Audacious Epigone said...


Sure but readers here are sharp enough to see it. Bar graphs with a range of 10 on a 100-point scale look silly. The changes are statistically significant.

Al Fin said...

Being mugged, burgled, home invaded, and carjacked can do that to a person's sense of trust.

Smith & Wesson can make it all good.

Audacious Epigone said...

Al fin,

Right, but it's a substitution for where trust should be. Not optimal.

JayMan said...

What does this pattern look like when you separate the races?