Trust and livelihood strategies: Survey evidence from rural Mexico

S. Groenewald, E.H. Bulte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper explores the relationship between trust and household adaptation strategies for a sample of respondents in a Mexican agrarian community. In particular, we analyze how levels of personalized, generalized, and institutionalized trust shape the adaptation strategies of smallholders, and find that households characterized by low levels of generalized and institutionalized trust are less likely to be involved in a diversified livelihood strategy. Instead, they tend to continue with the traditional activity of maize production. In contrast, high levels of personalized trust are associated with a livelihood strategy that focuses on cattle breeding and pasture growing. We argue that trust explains why some people more readily ‘catch up’ with opportunities created by an expanding market, while others lag behind in poverty. This paper thus seeks to contribute to the debate on the role of trust in economic actions and decision-making processes of smallholders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-55
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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