Munich Personal RePEc Archive

What determines trust in international organizations? An empirical analysis for the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO

Hessami, Zohal (2011): What determines trust in international organizations? An empirical analysis for the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO.

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Abstract

So far no existing study has analyzed what determines people’s trust in the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO even though – in the absence of democratic accountability – this is one of the few ways to assess the legitimacy of these institutions. This study is intended to fill this gap in the literature based on Eurobarometer survey data from the EU-15 countries. The estimation results suggest that individual characteristics (gender, international background, formal education level, personal income, ideological preferences, interest in politics, and exposure to media) as well as the extent of globalization influence trust in the three international organizations. The state of the economy only has a significant effect on trust in the WTO. Moreover, respondents’ attitudes towards globalization have a bearing on trust in all three international organizations. Survey items on individual knowledge and perceptions of the WTO allow us to test additional hypotheses that apply to this institution alone. We find that familiarity with the WTO fosters trust. Finally, beliefs that the EU is well-represented in the WTO, that the WTO has a good reputation and that it is a democratic and necessary institution increases repondents’ propensity to trust the WTO.

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