Christensen and Laegreid / TRUST IN GOVERNMENT 487 TRUST IN GOVERNMENT The Relative Importance of Service Satisfaction, Political Factors, and Demography

  • Christensen T
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This paper focuses on trust in government, meaning the parliament, the cabinet, the civil service, local councils, political parties, and politicians. Trust is measured in terms of specific support—as indicated by people's satisfaction with specific public services—and contrasted with more general support, determined by political culture and demographic factors. The data used in this analysis are taken from a general mass survey of Norwegian citizens conducted in 2001. The main findings are, first, that people's trust in government is of a general character: A high level of trust in one institution tends to extend to other institutions. Second, political-cultural variables have the strongest overall effect on variations in people's trust in government. Here, the single most important factor is general satisfaction with democracy. Third, citizens who are satisfied with specific public services generally have a higher level of trust in public institutions than citizens who are dissatisfied. Finally, trust in government is also influenced by demographic factors, such as age, education, and occupation. KEYWORDS: Norway, performance, trust and demography, trust and political factors, trust and service satisfaction, trust in government Trust in government is a multifaceted, complex, and rather ambiguous concept. The relation between democracy and trust is paradoxical. On the one hand, the legitimacy of political and administrative institutions and actors is based largely on trust. In a system of indirect democracy the people delegate their sovereignty to these institutions and actors, trusting that this mandate will be handled in an appropriate way. On the other hand, an inherent part of any democracy is a " healthy SYMPOSIUM

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  • Tom Christensen

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