The Democratic Utility of Trust: A Cross-National Analysis

Jamal, Amaney, and Irfan Nooruddin. 2010. "The Democratic Utility of Trust: A Cross-National Analysis." Journal of Politics 72 (1): 45-59.

15 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2020

See all articles by Amaney Jamal

Amaney Jamal

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Irfan Nooruddin

Georgetown University

Date Written: January 1, 2010

Abstract

Studies of political culture have long emphasized the importance of generalized trust for effective democratic governance. Individual-level models continue to treat generalized trust as a crucial predictor of more democratic political cultures, leading some scholars to suggest that building generalized trust is an important means of developing democratic prerequisites, like the appreciation of democratic values, in the nondemocratic world. In this paper we refute this conventional wisdom, arguing that the democratic utility of trust varies cross-nationally depending on existing levels of democracy within a country. Seldom have existing studies looked at the ways in which levels of generalized trust relate to micro-level indicators of support for democracy while controlling for overall institutional contexts. We argue existing government institutions play an important role in promoting levels of generalized trust because, in democracies and non-democracies alike, political confidence in existing political institutions is linked to higher levels of generalized trust. The democratic utility of trust therefore is not consistent across the globe. The degree of democracy determines the extent to which generalized trust becomes meaningfully linked to support for democracy. We offer evidence from a multilevel model using World Values Survey data to support these claims.

Keywords: Democracy, Trust, Surveys

Suggested Citation

Jamal, Amaney and Nooruddin, Irfan, The Democratic Utility of Trust: A Cross-National Analysis (January 1, 2010). Jamal, Amaney, and Irfan Nooruddin. 2010. "The Democratic Utility of Trust: A Cross-National Analysis." Journal of Politics 72 (1): 45-59., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3713587

Amaney Jamal

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States

Irfan Nooruddin (Contact Author)

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.irfannooruddin.org

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