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We conduct trust games in three villages in a northeastern Romanian commune. From 1775–1919, these villages were arbitrarily assigned to opposite sides of the Austrian and Ottoman/Russian border despite being located seven kilometers apart. This plausibly exogenous border assignment affected local institutions and late-18th century migration in a manner that likely also affected trust. Conditional on trust norms being affected by these centuries-old historical circumstances, our experimental design tests the degree to which such norms are transmitted intergenerationally. Consistent with theoretical predictions, we find that participants on the Austrian side that also have family roots in the village are indeed more likely to trust outsiders.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Comparative Economics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Comparative Economics, volume 50, issue 1, in 2022.

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