English title: Culture or Institutions? A Quasi-Experiment on the Origins of Political Trust in Europe

Author(s): Anna Shaleva -

Language: English

Type: Report, working paper

Year: 2014


Political trust is an essential ingredient for the functioning of democracies. Cultural theory hypothesizes that trust in political institutions originates in deeply rooted and long standing cultural norms, which are transmitted through early-life socialization and thus are exogenous to political institutions. By contrast, institutional theory views political trust as a direct consequence of institutional performance. This paper studies political trust in Europe within a quasi-experiment framework of migration. I compare Russian-born immigrants' political trust in Eastern and Western European countries. Results using European Social Survey data by itself or merged with the Integrated Values Surveys suggest that Russian-born migrants in Western Europe have higher probability of political trust than Russian-born migrants living in Eastern Europe. Within a narrow analysis at the level of a single culture, I find transparent evidence in favor of a strong causal effect driven by institutions. Along with it, cultural heterogeneity in parental background also affects political trust. Moreover, the evidence favors an interactive, i.e. joint effect of institutions and culture. An ad hoc test for determining similarly interpersonal trust only weakly verifies the empirical validity of the two theories.

Edition: 0

Institution: SSRN

Number of pages: 0

Number: 2014

Series: DG Joint Research Centre, Econometrics and Applied Statistics Unit

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