Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

HUI Working Papers,
HUI Research

No 66: Social trust and central-bank independence

Niclas Berggren , Sven-Olov Daunfeldt () and Jörgen Hellström
Additional contact information
Niclas Berggren: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: and Department of Institutional Economics, University of Economics in Prague
Sven-Olov Daunfeldt: HUI Research, Postal: The Swedish Research Institute of Trade (HUI), Regeringsgatan 60, 103 29 Stockholm, Sweden, and Department of Economics, Dalarna University
Jörgen Hellström: Umea School of Business and Economics, Postal: Umea University

Abstract: Central banks have been made more independent in many countries. A common rationale has been the existence of a credibility (or lack-of-trust) problem for monetary policy. This indicates a possible and until now unexplored link between social trust and central-bank independence. Our empirical findings, based on data from 149 countries, confirm that there is such a link, in the form of a u-shaped relationship. We suggest that two factors help explain this finding: the need for this kind of reform and the ability with which it can be implemented. At low trust levels, the need for central-bank independence is strong enough to dominate the low ability; at high trust levels the ability for reform is high and dominates the low need; at intermediate trust levels there is neither need nor ability strong enough to generate very independent central banks.

Keywords: Social trust; central-bank independence

JEL-codes: E52; E58; P48; Z13

23 pages, May 22, 2012

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