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Trust in Government: The Relative Importance of Service Satisfaction, Political Factors, and Demography

Tom Christensen and Per Lægreid
Public Performance & Management Review
Vol. 28, No. 4 (Jun., 2005), pp. 487-511
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3381308
Page Count: 25
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Trust in Government: The Relative Importance of Service Satisfaction, Political Factors, and Demography
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Abstract

This paper focuses on trust in government, meaning the parliament, the cabinet, the civil service, local councils, political parties, and politicians. Trust is measured in terms of specific support--as indicated by people's satisfaction with specific public services--and contrasted with more general support, determined by political culture and demographic factors. The data used in this analysis are taken from a general mass survey of Norwegian citizens conducted in 2001. The main findings are, first, that people's trust in government is of a general character: A high level of trust in one institution tends to extend to other institutions. Second, political-cultural variables have the strongest overall effect on variations in people's trust in government. Here, the single most important factor is general satisfaction with democracy. Third, citizens who are satisfied with specific public services generally have a higher level of trust in public institutions than citizens who are dissatisfied. Finally, trust in government is also influenced by demographic factors, such as age, education, and occupation.

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