Germany united? Trust in democratic institutions thirty years after unification

Ross Campbell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the aftermath of unification, studies consistently uncovered differences in trust between citizens of the east and west of Germany. This article examines if this remains the case. It evaluates the trends and individual-level drivers of trust from 1984 to 2018 using data from the German General Social Survey (allbus) showing, first, that Germans are cautiously trusting of institutions, trust is more extensive than at any point since unification, and the differences between the east and west have narrowed; and, second, that trust is shaped by factors that are broadly similar between the two parts of the country. Multivariate models and post-estimation analyses show that trust is steeped in a variety of phenomena, some of which provide it with resilience and durability. The study rejects suggestions that Germany is suffering from a legitimacy crisis and concludes that the project of national integration is more complete than has previously been thought.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalGerman Politics and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • democratic institutions
  • east-west differences
  • political culture
  • political systems
  • trust
  • unification


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