Institutional trust and welfare policy support from a country-comparative perspective: bringing the market back in

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2016
End date: 31/12/2018
Funding: 3396000 SEK


This project is about citizens’ institutional trust and how it impacts their welfare policy support. The “Quality of Government” (QoG) approach stresses that impartial and efficient public institutions are necessary for maintaining a system of encompassing state-organized welfare. The citizens’ perspective is essential to the argument: it is only when citizens trust public institutions to be efficient and impartial that they are willing to provide resources to state-organized welfare. In situations where such trust is lacking, citizens will turn to other more trusted institutional alternatives to satisfy their needs for social security. Empirical works on the subject are both scarce and report contradictory findings. We see two reasons accounting for this theory-evidence mismatch. First, we need to incorporate trust in market institutions within the analytical framework. Current empirical research largely neglects one of the central tenets in welfare state theory; i.e. that the role and historical development of the welfare state must be understood in relation to the market and its limitations. Second, as the measurements of institutional trust used in most of the reviewed previous research are flawed, substantial improvements are required. Our main hypothesis is that citizens’ welfare preferences are a function of both trust in the market and the state. This project explores these relationships from a country-comparative perspective. The project contributes to current knowledge by: a) adopting an analytical approach that highlights trust and attitudes towards both market and public institutions; b) using improved empirical indicators that are strongly anchored in QoG theory; c) studying a broad set of countries, providing the necessary variation in both market- and state-institutional configurations. This will be the first cross-national empirical study that focuses on trust in market institutions and its potential significance for forming citizens’ welfare preferences.

Last updated on 2017-27-07 at 12:36