Trust in state institutions is essential for the stability and legitimacy of political regimes. Understood in evaluative terms, political trust has often been linked to the performance of the state and its institutions. The macro-level sources of trust, however, are not well understood owing to the scarcity of empirical tests beyond cross-sectional analyses. This paper examines economic performance and the quality of governance as determinants of political trust in Europe. The analysis relies on data from the European Values Study and the World Values Survey between 1990 and 2019, covering 42 European countries surveyed at least twice. The modelling strategy explicitly distinguishes between-country variation from within-country variation in macro-level characteristics, enabling the examination of cross-national and longitudinal effects. The results provide evidence of associations between economic performance - economic development and unemployment - and political trust in the expected directions, with some differences across European regions. Further, countries with less corruption tend to enjoy higher political trust, but the effects of changes in the level of corruption on trust depend on the corruption indicator used. Finally, improvements in the quality of electoral democracy are associated with declines in political trust.
Sociologický časopis, redakce, Sociologický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i., Jilská 1, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
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