Picon, Mario (2010). "Believing in opportunities, trusting institutions in Latin America: the role of Government Effectiveness, Control of Corruption, Political Stability, and Voice & Accountability" Paper presented at the 7th annual conference of the HDCA, 21-23 September 2010, Amman, Jordan.

The paper attempts to shed light on how both individual circumstance and context shape individual perspectives of upper mobility, and, more generally, the individual’s faith in the opportunities created by the system, roughly defined as the institutional arrangements that facilitate individual progress and social cohesion. While previous research has used either GDP per capita or inequality measures such as the Gini as explanatory of trust in institutions or even the democratic system of government, here I assess how different governance dimensions, together with individual traits, affect the respondent’s expectations. This first version of the paper uses the Latinobarometro data for urban centers in 17 countries of Latin America, with the idea of expanding the analysis to other regions (particularly, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East) using the Gallup World Poll data. The analysis shows that a general optimism on individual mobility coexists with widespread skepticism about the fairness of the system. More importantly, the paper shows how in countries where corruption and effectiveness of the government rank low, improvements in the past ten years have to be very high to actually have an effect on citizen’s faith in the system. While the perspective of upper mobility is closely linked to voice and accountability scores for the country, believing in the opportunity for a poor person to get out of poverty is linked to the government effectiveness rankings.