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Bridging the Ideological Divide: Trust and Support for Social Security Privatization

Thomas J. Rudolph and Elizabeth Popp
Political Behavior
Vol. 31, No. 3 (September 2009), pp. 331-351
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40587288
Page Count: 21
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Bridging the Ideological Divide: Trust and Support for Social Security Privatization
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Abstract

Using a pair of national surveys, this article analyzes the individuallevel sources of public support for Social Security privatization. Given the inherent risks associated with privatization, we argue that the political trust heuristic affords untapped theoretical leverage in explaining public attitudes toward privatization. We find that, among certain individuals, political trust plays an instrumental role in structuring privatization preferences. Political trust increases support for privatization, but only among liberals. This heterogeneity in trust's impact is best explained, we argue, by the unbalanced ideological costs imposed by the potential privatization of Social Security. Among liberals, embracing privatization requires the sacrifice of core values, thereby making political trust a potent consideration. Political trust is inconsequential among conservatives because supporting privatization requires no comparable sacrifice for them.

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