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Type Journal Article - Social Science Research
Title Languages, communication potential and generalized trust in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence based on the Afrobarometer survey
Volume 49
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 141-155
The goal of this study is to investigate whether speaking other than home languages in Sub-Saharan Africa promotes generalized trust. Based on various psychological and economic theories, a simple model is provided to illustrate how languages might shape trust through various channels. Relying on data from the Afrobarometer Project, which provides information on home and additional languages, the Index of Communication Potential (ICP) is introduced to capture the linguistic situation in the 20 sample countries. The ICP, which can be computed at any desired level of aggregation, refers to the probability that an individual can communicate with a randomly selected person in the society based on common languages. The estimated two-level hierarchical models show that, however, individual level communication potential does not seem to impact trust formation, but living in an area with higher average communication potential increases the chance of exhibiting higher trust toward unknown people.

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