Using bicycle thefts as measurement of trust

(photo by Ned Lyttelton)

(photo by Ned Lyttelton)

Other experimenters have tested community-trustworthiness by dropping “lost wallets” in communities with a small amount of money and an ID card that says “If lost, please return to Mr. XXX  at YYY address.]  By dropping wallets randomly in different communities, they can measure the percentage of wallets returned intact (without the money missing).  It turns out that such empirical measures correlate strongly with the percent of neighborhood residents who report that others can be trusted.  [See also my earlier post on a related topic.]  So, it’s not just that in some communities people are drinking funny water….   One recent researcher (a bit less scientific) dropped those wallets and then videotaped those taking the wallets.

A idea from Mariano Pasik, a community advocate and publicist in Buenos Aires, Argentina is that community members should leave out bicycles and then film to see what percent of them are taken and over how short a period.  One can imagine that if people did this in communities across the world, one could use a mashup to present these data on an empirical measure of trust (although it is not always clear whether the thieves are community residents or outsiders).

TY to PSFK for a heads-up about this.

One response to “Using bicycle thefts as measurement of trust

  1. Across countries, greater ethnic heterogeneity seems to be associated with lower social trust (Newton & Delhey 2005; Anderson & Paskeviciute 2006; but see also Hooghe et al. 2006).

    Across local areas in the United States, Australia, Sweden, Canada and Britain, greater ethnic diversity is associated with lower social trust and, at least in some cases, lower investment in public goods (Poterba 1997; Alesina et al. 1999; Alesina & La Ferrara 2000, 2002; Costa & Kahn 2003b; Vigdor 2004; Glaeser & Alesina 2004; Leigh 2006; Jordahl & Gustavsson 2006; Soroka et al. 2007; Pennant 2005;

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