This chapter examines how social trust gets conveyed across generations. By studying children of immigrants, the author traces how social trust is conveyed within the family. The analysis shows that children born to mothers from high-trust countries themselves show greater trust than do children born to mothers from low-trust countries. Children of mothers from high-trust countries also enjoy better health than do those whose mothers hail from low-trust ones. Furthermore, the results indicate that trust is a factor behind persistent differences in health and wealth between individuals and between countries. The author concludes that the EU and its member states can work actively to increase trust among citizens, and thus to reduce the long-term prosperity gap within and between EU countries.
Past studies have shown that trust measures are clearly and positively correlated with good health. The problem for research, however, lies in the uncertainty over whether trust actually causes better health or whether the reverse is true. Martin Ljunge applied his design to solve this problem. Focusing on the health of very young children and finding that the mother typically carries the trust for the children, he gathered trust measures both in the present country as well as in the mother’s country of origin. Thus, trust becomes exogenous to the current problem. This exogenous trust measure was significant and beneficial in the children’s health.