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The milkman theory of civilisation

Trust does not merely make for pleasant neighbourhoods; it's good for the economy too, according to Francis Fukuyama. Susan Greenberg applies this thesis to her life

By Susan Greenberg   October 1995

Nothing is more calculated to make you feel world-weary than seeing things you always considered common sense turned into lucrative theory. I felt this when I read Francis Fukuyama’s new book: Trust: the Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity.

He reminds us that trust is not just a vital part of personal relationships: it oils the wheels of a country’s prosperity and its absence imposes a tax, measurable in lawsuits, bureaucracy, crime and unrest.

The US suffers a serious lack of trust. But Fukuyama insists that despite its Lone Ranger image, the country once prospered on its communitarian tradition.…

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