Skip to main content Accessibility help

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.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Trust and prosocial behaviour in a process of state capacity building: the case of the Palestinian territories1
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Trust and prosocial behaviour in a process of state capacity building: the case of the Palestinian territories1
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

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

Hide All
Antoci, F., Sabatini, F., and Sodini, M. (2013), ‘Economic Growth, Technological Progress and Social Capital: The Inverted U hypothesis’, Metroeconomica, 64 (3): 401431.
Aselage, J. and Eisenberger, R. (2003), ‘Perceived Organizational Support and Psychological Contracts: A Theoretical Integration’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24 (5): 491509.
Atran, S. (1986), ‘Hamula Organisation and Masha’a Tenure in Palestine’, Man, New Series, 21 (2): 271295.
Berigan, N. and Irwin, K. (2011), ‘Culture, Cooperation and the General Welfare’, Social Psychology Quarterly, 74 (4): 341360.
Bogaert, S., Boone, C. and Declerck, C. (2008), ‘Social value orientation and cooperation in social dilemmas: A review and conceptual model’, British Journal of Social Psychology, 47 (3): 453480.
Bollen, K. (1989), Structural Equations with Latent Variables, New York: Wiley.
Bowles, S. and Gintis, H. (2002), ‘Social Capital and Community Governance’, Economic Journal 112 (483): 419436.
Brehm, J. and Rahn, W. (1997), ‘Individual Level Evidence for the Causes and Consequences of Social Capital’, American Journal of Political Science, 41 (3): 9991023.
Buda, R. and Elsayed-Elkhouly, S. M. (1998), ‘Cultural Differences between Arabs and Americans: Individualism-Collectivism Revisited’, Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 29 (3): 487492.
Bühlmann, M. and Freitag, M. (2009), ‘Crafting Trust The Role of Political Institutions in a Comparative Perspective’, Comparative Political Studies, 42 (12): 15371566.
Christoforou, A. (2010), ‘Social Capital and Human Development: An Empirical Investigation Across European Countries’, Journal of Institutional Economics, 6 (2): 191214.
Crisis Group (2007), ‘Inside Gaza: The Challenge of Clan and Families’, Middle East Report N. 71, 20 December 2007.
Dasgupta, P. (2005), ‘Economics of Social Capital’, The Economic Record, 81 (255): S2S21.
Degli Antoni, G. (2009), ‘Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivations to Volunteer and Social Capital Formation’, Kyklos, 62 (3): 359370.
European Commission (2004), Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, European Neighbourhood Policy Country Report.
European Commission (2011), ‘Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2010 Country Report: Occupied Palestinian Territory. Joint Staff Working Paper COM (2011) 303.
Feld, L. P. and Frey, B. S. (2002), ‘Trust Breeds Trust: How Taxpayers are Ttreated’, Economics of Governance, 3 (2): 8799.
Field, J. (2004), Social Capital, London and New York: Routledge.
Frey, B. S. and Torgler, B. (2007), ‘Tax Morale and Conditional Cooperation,’ Journal of Comparative Economics, 35 (1): 136159.
Hodgson, G. M. (2006), ‘What are institutions?’, Journal of Economic Issues, 40 (1): 125.
Hofstede, G. (1991), Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, London: McGraw-Hill UK.
Irwin, K. (2009), ‘Prosocial behavior across cultures: The effects of institutional versus generalized trust’, In Thye, Shane R., Lawler, Edward J. (ed.) Altruism and Prosocial Behavior in Groups (Advances in Group Processes, Volume 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.165198.
Kline, R. B. (2005), Principles and Practice of Structural Equation Modeling, New York: Guilford Press.
Knack, S. (2002), ‘Trust, Associational Life and Economic Performance’, The Contribution of Human and Social Capital to Sustained Economic Growth and Well-Being: International Symposium Report.
Knack, S. and Keefer, P. (1997), ‘Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff?’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112 (4): 12511288.
Kumlin, S. and Rothstein, B. (2005), ‘Making and Breaking Social Capital’, The Impact of Welfare-State Institutions,’ Comparative Political Studies, 38 (4): 339365.
Kupek, E. (2006), ‘Beyond Logistic Regression: Structural Equations Modelling for Binary Variables and its Application to Investigating Unobserved Confounders’, BMC Medical Research Methodology, 6:13.
Landinfo (2008), Clan Conflicts in the Palestinian Territory, Oslo: Landinfo – Country of Origin Information Centre.
Lasensky, S. (2004), ‘Paying for Peace. The Oslo Process and the Limits of American Foreign Aids,’ Middle East Journal, 58 (2): 210234
Letki, N. (2006), ‘Investigating the Roots of Civic Morality: Trust, Social Capital and Institutional Performance’, Political Behavior, 28 (4), 305325.
Martínez-Vázquez, J. and Torgler, B. (2009), ‘The Evolution of Tax Morale in Modern Spain’, Journal of Economic Issues, 43 (1): 128.
Nasr, M. and Hilal, J. (2007), Measuring Social Capital in the Palestinian Territories, The Palestine Jerusalem: Economic Policy Research Institute.
North, D. (1990), Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Oishi, S., Schimmack, U., Diener, Ed., and Sub, E. M. (1998), ‘The Measurement of Values and Individualism-Collectivism’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24 (11): 11772000.
Olsson, U. H., Foss, T., Troye, S. V., and Howell, R. D. (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.
Putnam, R. D. (2000), Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, New York: Simon & Schuster.
Putnam, R. D., Leonardi, R., and Nanetti, R. Y. (1993), Making Democracy Work, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Ring, P. S. and van de Ven, A. H. (1992), ‘Structuring Cooperative Relationships between Organizations’, Strategic Management Journal, 13 (7): 483498.
Robinson, S. L. and Rousseau, D. M. (1994), ‘Violating the Psychological Contract: Not the Exception but the Norm’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15 (3): 245259.
Rothenberg, C. E. (1998/99), ‘A Review of the Anthropological Literature in English on the Palestinian Hamula and the Status of Women’, Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, 2 (2): 2448.
Rothstein, Bo (2001), ‘Social Capital in the Social Democratic Welfare State,’ Politics and Society, 29 (2): 207241.
Rousseau, D. M. (1989), ‘Psychological and Implied Contracts in Organizations’, The Employee Rights and Responsibilities Journal, 2 (2): 121139.
Rousseau, D. M. (1995), Managing Diversity for High Performance, New York: Business Week/Advance.
Sabatini, F. (2008), ‘Social Capital and the Quality of Economic Development’, Kyklos, 61 (3): 466499.
Sarracino, F. (2010), ‘Social Capital and Subjective Well-being Trends: Comparing 11 Western European Countries’, The Journal of Socio-Economics, 39 (4): 482517.
Schein, A. (2012), ‘Institutional Reversals and Economic Growth: Palestine 1516–1948’, The Journal of Institutional Economics, 8 (1): 119141.
Smith, A. (1759), Theory of Moral Sentiments, London: A. Millar.
Tempelaar, D. T., Van Der Loeff, S. S., and Giselaers, W. H. (2007), ‘A Structural Equation Model Analyzing the Relationship of Students’ Attitude Toward Statistics, Prior Reasoning Abilities and Course Performance’, Statistics Education Research Journal, 6 (2): 78102.
Torgler, B. (2005a), ‘Tax Morale and Direct Democracy’, European Journal of Political Economy, 21 (2), 525531.
Torgler, B. (2005b), ‘Tax Morale in Latin America’, Public Choice, 122 (1/2): 133157.
Torgler, B. and Schneider, F. G. (2007), ‘What Shapes Attitudes toward Paying Taxes? Evicende from Multicultural European Countries’, Social Science Quarterly, 88 (2): 443470.
Triandis, H. C. (1995), Individualism and collectivism, San Francisco: Westview Press.
Uphoff, N. (1999), ‘Understanding Social Capital: Learning from the Analysis and Experience of Participation’, in: Dasgupta, P. and Serageldin, I. (eds.), Social Capital: A Multifaceted Perspective, Washington, DC: The World Bank.
Uslaner, E. M. (2002), The Moral Foundations of Trust, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
World Bank (2003), Twenty-Seven Months – Intifada, Closures and Palestinian Economic Crisis, Washington, DC: World Bank.
Yamagishi, T. (1988), ‘The Provision of a Sanctioning System in the United States and Japan, Social Psychology Quarterly, 51 (3): 265271.
Yamagishi, T. and Yamagishi, M. (1994), ‘Trust and Commitment in the United States and Japan’, Motivation and Emotion, 18 (2): 129166.
Yamamura, E. (2011), ‘The Role of Social Trust in Reducing Long-Term Truancy and Forming Human Capital in Japan’, Economics of Education Review, 30 (2): 380389.
Zak, P. J. and Knack, S. (2001), ‘Trust and Growth’, Economic Journal, 111 (470): 295321.
Zucker, L. G. (1986), ‘Production of Trust: Institutional Sources of Economic Structure, 1840–1920’, Research in Organizational Behavior, 8: 53111.
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: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed