Working Paper BETA #2017-32

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Title : The Italian North-South Divide in Perceived Dishonesty: A Matter of Trust?

Author(s) : Giuseppe Attanasi, Alessandro Bucciol, Simona Cicognani, Natalia Montinari

Abstract : We present novel data on the perception of dishonesty in the public sector in Italy, from a survey we carried out in August 2017. They concern a sample of about 1,000 attendees at a mass-gathering music festival in Southern Italy, whose audience includes a relevant fraction of subjects residing in North Italy. The survey includes questions on perceived dishonesty at both an institutional and social dimension. We measure whether regional differences in the perception of dishonesty persist even when controlling for generalized trust, the quality of institutions at the regional level, as well as socio-demographic characteristics. We find that respondents from the North or living abroad perceive lower level of dishonesty in the public sector compared to respondents from the South. Once objective measures of corruption and governance at the regional level are accounted for, the geographical gap disappears, while generalized trust still matters. This evidence suggests that individual and geographic differences in generalized trust must be taken into account as they can affect the support for policy interventions aimed at reducing dishonesty in the public sector.

Key-words : Cultural event; Corruption; Dishonest behavior; Generalized Trust; Italy.

JEL Classification : A13; D73; K42; Z13.