Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Trust and prosocial behaviour in a process of state capacity building: the case of the Palestinian territories1


This paper contributes to the literature by conducting the first empirical investigation into the determinants of prosocial behaviour in the Palestinian Territories, with a focus on the role of trust and institutions. Drawing on a unique dataset collected through the administration of a questionnaire to a representative sample of the population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, we have found that institutional trust is the strongest predictor of prosociality. This result suggests that, in collectivist societies with low levels of generalized trust, the lack of citizens’ confidence in the fairness and efficiency of public institutions may compromise social order. The strengthening of institutional trust may also reinforce prosocial behaviour in individualist societies, where a decline in generalized trust has been documented by empirical studies.

Corresponding author
Hide All

The paper benefited from comments by participants at the ERF 20th Annual Conference: Economic Development and Social Justice (Cairo, Egypt, March, 2014), at the seminar of the London Centre for Corporate Governance and Business Ethics (London, January 31, 2014) at the 25th Annual EAPE Conference 2013 ‘Beyond Deindustrialisation: the Future of Industry’ (Paris, France, November 7–9, 2013), at the Fourth Annual Conference in Political Economy ‘Political Economy, Activism and Alternative Economic Strategies’ (The Hague, The Netherlands, July 9–11, 2013) and at research seminars in London and Rome. An initial version of the paper is under the ERF working paper series N.841. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers whose suggestions allowed a substantial improvement of the paper. We thank the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) for sharing data for the measurement of social capital in the Palestinian Territories. We are deeply indebted to Jamil Hilal, Klaus Nielsen and Hadi Salehi Esfahani for precious comments and suggestions. Usual caveats apply.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

F. Antoci , F. Sabatini , and M. Sodini (2013), ‘Economic Growth, Technological Progress and Social Capital: The Inverted U hypothesis’, Metroeconomica, 64 (3): 401431.

J. Aselage and R. Eisenberger (2003), ‘Perceived Organizational Support and Psychological Contracts: A Theoretical Integration’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24 (5): 491509.

N. Berigan and K. Irwin (2011), ‘Culture, Cooperation and the General Welfare’, Social Psychology Quarterly, 74 (4): 341360.

S. Bogaert , C. Boone and C. Declerck (2008), ‘Social value orientation and cooperation in social dilemmas: A review and conceptual model’, British Journal of Social Psychology, 47 (3): 453480.

S. Bowles and H. Gintis (2002), ‘Social Capital and Community Governance’, Economic Journal 112 (483): 419436.

J. Brehm and W. Rahn (1997), ‘Individual Level Evidence for the Causes and Consequences of Social Capital’, American Journal of Political Science, 41 (3): 9991023.

R. Buda and S. M. Elsayed-Elkhouly (1998), ‘Cultural Differences between Arabs and Americans: Individualism-Collectivism Revisited’, Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 29 (3): 487492.

P. Dasgupta (2005), ‘Economics of Social Capital’, The Economic Record, 81 (255): S2S21.

G Degli Antoni . (2009), ‘Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivations to Volunteer and Social Capital Formation’, Kyklos, 62 (3): 359370.

L. P. Feld and B. S. Frey (2002), ‘Trust Breeds Trust: How Taxpayers are Ttreated’, Economics of Governance, 3 (2): 8799.

B. S. Frey and B. Torgler (2007), ‘Tax Morale and Conditional Cooperation,’ Journal of Comparative Economics, 35 (1): 136159.

G. M. Hodgson (2006), ‘What are institutions?’, Journal of Economic Issues, 40 (1): 125.

K. Irwin (2009), ‘Prosocial behavior across cultures: The effects of institutional versus generalized trust’, In Shane R. Thye , Edward J. Lawler (ed.) Altruism and Prosocial Behavior in Groups (Advances in Group Processes, Volume 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.165198.

S. Knack and P. Keefer (1997), ‘Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff?’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112 (4): 12511288.

S. Kumlin and B. Rothstein (2005), ‘Making and Breaking Social Capital’, The Impact of Welfare-State Institutions,’ Comparative Political Studies, 38 (4): 339365.

E. Kupek (2006), ‘Beyond Logistic Regression: Structural Equations Modelling for Binary Variables and its Application to Investigating Unobserved Confounders’, BMC Medical Research Methodology, 6:13.

N. Letki (2006), ‘Investigating the Roots of Civic Morality: Trust, Social Capital and Institutional Performance’, Political Behavior, 28 (4), 305325.

J. Martínez-Vázquez and B. Torgler (2009), ‘The Evolution of Tax Morale in Modern Spain’, Journal of Economic Issues, 43 (1): 128.

D. North (1990), Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

S. Oishi , U. Schimmack , Ed. Diener , and E. M. Sub (1998), ‘The Measurement of Values and Individualism-Collectivism’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24 (11): 11772000.

U. H. Olsson , T. Foss , S. V. Troye , and R. D. Howell (2000), ‘The Performance of ML, GLS, and WLS Estimation in Structural Equation Modeling Under conditions of Misspecification and Nonnormality’, Structural Equation Modeling, 7 (4): 557595.

P. S. Ring and A. H. van de Ven (1992), ‘Structuring Cooperative Relationships between Organizations’, Strategic Management Journal, 13 (7): 483498.

S. L. Robinson and D. M. Rousseau (1994), ‘Violating the Psychological Contract: Not the Exception but the Norm’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15 (3): 245259.

Bo Rothstein (2001), ‘Social Capital in the Social Democratic Welfare State,’ Politics and Society, 29 (2): 207241.

D. M. Rousseau (1989), ‘Psychological and Implied Contracts in Organizations’, The Employee Rights and Responsibilities Journal, 2 (2): 121139.

F. Sabatini (2008), ‘Social Capital and the Quality of Economic Development’, Kyklos, 61 (3): 466499.

F. Sarracino (2010), ‘Social Capital and Subjective Well-being Trends: Comparing 11 Western European Countries’, The Journal of Socio-Economics, 39 (4): 482517.

B. Torgler (2005a), ‘Tax Morale and Direct Democracy’, European Journal of Political Economy, 21 (2), 525531.

B. Torgler (2005b), ‘Tax Morale in Latin America’, Public Choice, 122 (1/2): 133157.

B. Torgler and F. G. Schneider (2007), ‘What Shapes Attitudes toward Paying Taxes? Evicende from Multicultural European Countries’, Social Science Quarterly, 88 (2): 443470.

E. M. Uslaner (2002), The Moral Foundations of Trust, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

T. Yamagishi (1988), ‘The Provision of a Sanctioning System in the United States and Japan, Social Psychology Quarterly, 51 (3): 265271.

T. Yamagishi and M. Yamagishi (1994), ‘Trust and Commitment in the United States and Japan’, Motivation and Emotion, 18 (2): 129166.

E. Yamamura (2011), ‘The Role of Social Trust in Reducing Long-Term Truancy and Forming Human Capital in Japan’, Economics of Education Review, 30 (2): 380389.

P. J. Zak and S. Knack (2001), ‘Trust and Growth’, Economic Journal, 111 (470): 295321.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Institutional Economics
  • ISSN: 1744-1374
  • EISSN: 1744-1382
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-institutional-economics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 24 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 214 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.