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Abstract

Trust is an essential part of economic interactions. Nearly all activities involving the exchange of goods or services require at least some degree of mutual confidence. Until today some of the lowest levels of social trust are found in sub-Saharan Africa, especially among pastoral communities. However, there is still high uncertainty about extend and drivers of trust in pastoral populations. In this study we analyze trust of 402 semi-nomadic pastoralists living in Turkana County, Northern Kenya using both incentivized experiments and survey trust questions. In particular, we measure the degree in which trust diminishes as interactive social distance increases by playing a trust game and randomly pairing respondents with a fellow villager, a pastoralist from a neighboring village, or a city dweller from the county’s capital. We find that trust towards fellow villagers is statistically significantly larger than trust towards city dwellers from the county capital. Survey responses also indicate that pastoralists place more trust in their fellow villagers than in pastoralists from neighboring villages, while behavior in the experiment does not show any statistically significant differences between these two groups. To overcome the trust barriers identified in this study, we suggest policy makers and practitioners that offer extension services for pastoralists to involve locally respected and trusted agents.

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