The Relationship between Income and Political Trust Is Conditional on Economic Inequality

Posted: 24 Feb 2017 Last revised: 10 Jan 2018

See all articles by Daniela Braun

Daniela Braun

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Matthias Fatke

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Date Written: February 21, 2017

Abstract

Do those who feel left behind express more distrust of politics? Or does political trust serve as palliative as the poor become more trusting? We argue the relationship between resources and political trust depends on the degree of economic inequality. On the one hand, the interest-based view of power resource theory suggests a positive relationship further amplified by inequality. System justification theory, on the other hand, suggests a greater need for cognitive dissonance reduction in unequal countries, resulting in rationalization of the deprived situation by expressing more political trust. We test both claims with comprehensive analyses of WVS data from a diverse sample of countries. Results provide clear support of system justification: In unequal countries income is negatively associated with political trust, while in equal countries, the relationship is reverse. This finding has important implications for our understanding of the palliative function of political trust and for successfully combatting inequality.

Keywords: Political Trust, Inequality, Income, System Justification, Public Opinion

Suggested Citation

Braun, Daniela and Fatke, Matthias, The Relationship between Income and Political Trust Is Conditional on Economic Inequality (February 21, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2920988 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2920988

Daniela Braun

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, Bavaria 80539
Germany

Matthias Fatke (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich ( email )

Oettingenstra├če 67
M├╝nchen, Bavaria 80538
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.en.gsi.uni-muenchen.de/people/academic/matthias_fatke/

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