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Political Trust and Job Insecurity in 18 European Polities

Wroe, Andrew (2014) Political Trust and Job Insecurity in 18 European Polities. Journal of Trust Research, 4 (2). pp. 90-112. ISSN 2151-5581. E-ISSN 2151-559X. (doi:10.1080/21515581.2014.957291) (KAR id:43683)


Several decades of trust research has confirmed that difficult national economic conditions help explain citizens’ low levels of political trust. But research points to a much less important role for personal economic factors. The latter finding, it is argued here, is a result of flawed survey questions and model misspecification. We actually know very little about the precise economic concerns that may generate low levels of trust and about the mechanisms via which they do so, resulting in a rather thin causal story. This paper seeks to address this lacuna, focusing on an issue of increasing importance in advanced economies: job insecurity. Using individual-level data from 18 European polities at two different time points, the paper finds that job insecurity

generates lower levels of trust in politicians, political parties and political institutions and lower levels of satisfaction with democratic performance. Importantly, job insecurity’s effect does not diminish as one moves from specific to more diffuse objects of political trust, as previous research suggests it should. The paper also finds that the effect of job insecurity is exacerbated if citizens have negative perceptions of the performance of the wider economy. Finally, and drawing on the occupational psychology literature, the paper proposes a novel causal mechanism to link job insecurity to political trust. The intuition is that job insecurity violates a ‘psychologicaldemocratic’ trust contract between workers and the state. The mechanism is consistent with the observed results. The paper thus contributes to both the empirical and theoretical debates on the linkages between political trust and economic performance.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/21515581.2014.957291
Uncontrolled keywords: political trust; job insecurity; economy; European Social Survey data
Subjects: H Social Sciences
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions and public administration (Europe)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Andrew Wroe
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2014 15:23 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 12:56 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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