Bridging the ideological divide: Trust and support for Social Security Privatization

  • Rudolph T
  • Popp E
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Using a pair of national surveys, this article analyzes the individual-level 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. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Ideology
  • Political trust
  • Privatization
  • Social security

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  • Thomas J. Rudolph

  • Elizabeth Popp

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