Living under the ‘right’ government: does political ideology matter to trust in political institutions?

Fischer Justina A.V.
CEIS Research Paper
This paper asks whether trust in political institutions depends on individual’s political leaning and the political ideology of the national government. We employ information on 140'000 individuals in 30 democratic OECD countries from the World Values Survey, 1981 – 2007, and estimate so-called micro-based pseudo-panel two-way fixed effects models. Distinguishing between extreme and moderate versions of leftist and rightist political leaning, our estimates reveal that political trust increases non-linearly in the degree of individual’s conservatism. We also find that political leaning is not instrumental to improving one's own socio-economic situation, thus rather constituting an expressive behavior. If government ideology matches individual’s political preferences, trust in political institutions is increased. In contrast, the ‘apolitical’ appears to distrust the political system as such. We also find evidence for a symmetric, but incomplete convergence of party ideologies to the median voter position. Implications for vote abstention are discussed.
Number: 212
Keywords: political trust, government ideology, political leaning, World Values Survey
JEL codes: D72, H11, Z13
Date: Friday, October 14, 2011
Revision Date: Friday, October 14, 2011