Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The welfare state and social trust: a descriptive analysis

Tamilina, Larysa (2011): The welfare state and social trust: a descriptive analysis.

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This paper analyzes the level of interpersonal and institutional trust among the selected countries as well as its change over time. The analysis shows that the average value of both interpersonal as well as institutional trust is highest in social democratic welfare regimes and is followed by liberal welfare regimes, with conservative welfare regime sclosing the ranking. However, when analyzing institutional trust, one reveals less fluctuation compared to the case of interpersonal trust. The analysis of the changes in interpersonal trust from 1981-2004 provides evidence that points to fact that there is no single pattern followed by all selected countries. In Australia, France, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland, the share of people who positively answered the trust question slightly declined over the period from 1981 – 1998. In Austria, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, the share of the trusting population increased over the analyzed period. Mixed results were found in the remaining countries: Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and Italy, where the trend of trust change shows some fluctuation. First, it increases over a short period followed by a sudden drop in trust levels. The same pattern was found when analyzing the fluctuation of institutional trust over the selected period. For those countries, where the question of confidence in public welfare institutions was asked in all waves of the survey, one can derive two groups: the first comprises those where a drop in confidence levels was found (Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands), the second includes those where a slight increase in the share of trustors was present (Belgium, Sweden and the UK).

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