The sources of institutional trust in East and West Germany: civic culture or economic performance?

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Abstract

The sources of institutional trust are contested in political science. Cultural
explanations focusing on engagement in civic activity compete
with rationalist theories that link institutional trust with perceptions
of economic performance. This article subjects hypotheses derived
from these competing explanations to empirical testing, using data
from European Values Surveys for East and West Germany. The
results cast considerable doubt over the ability of cultural factors to
explain institutional trust. Whilst civic engagement is lower in the
East than in the West, levels of institutional trust are indistinguishable.
Regression analysis shows that cultural factors have a relatively weak
impact on attitudes towards political institutions, and that economic
performance is a far better model for predicting institutional trust.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-419
Number of pages19
JournalGerman Politics
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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