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Does Institutional Trust in East Central Europe Differ from Western Europe?

[journal article]

Boda, Zsolt; Medve-Bálint, Gergő

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Abstract Compared to Western European countries, the new democracies of East Central Europe (ECE) demonstrate substantially lower levels of institutional trust. Some authors consider this phenomenon as a consequence of the transition process and raise concerns about the public approval and legitimacy of ECE political systems and institutions. Based on the datasets of the European Social Survey (ESS), in this paper we aim to address this issue by shedding light on the possible differences between old and new European democracies regarding the origins and patterns of institutional trust. We especially focus on the micro-level foundations of institutional trust and through a quantitative analysis of the 2010 ESS dataset we find that, overall, similarly to Western Europe, institutional trust in ECE is positively associated with success in social and economic life. We also find that relative to westerners, ECE citizens demonstrate comparable degrees of “materialistic trust” as income levels and trust in institutions are similarly associated with each other across these countries even after controlling for several socio-economic characteristics. In addition, the citizens of new European democracies seem to be equally ready to formulate separate evaluative attitudes towards specific institutions. Our findings suggest that in order to explain the persistently low levels of trust in ECE a greater emphasis should be devoted to how people perceive institutional performance when they formulate their trust judgments towards specific institutions.
Keywords Eastern Europe; Central Europe; transition; political system; legal system; confidence; legitimacy; democracy; satisfaction; socioeconomic factors; European Social Survey
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Method empirical; quantitative empirical
Free Keywords institutional trust
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 1-17
Journal European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities, 3 (2014) 2
Issue topic Political Analysis
ISSN 2285-4916
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works