September 17, 2006

Cultural stereotypes shape relations

Why nations trust or don't trust each other:

Trust pays off[N]either close proximity nor common language alone affects the relative faith one country has in another. For instance, the British and French—separated only by the English Channel—tend not to trust each other. Something beyond the objective is at work.

The three cultural factors, according to the team’s research, play a significant role in forming trust. Fewer ethnic ties lowered respondents’ confidence in foreigners by more than 6 percent. The number of years their states had been at war in the last millennia also mattered. And between states where 90 percent of the population shared the same religion, as with Italy and Spain, trust rose 30 percent. Ethnicity and religion, Zingales notes, are particularly powerful indicators.
Comment:  I suspect this analysis applies to the US and its Indian nations also. For instance, I bet relations are better in the Southwest, where there's more shared ethnicity and religion, than in the Northeast.

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