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Corruption and Trust: A model design

Ina Kubbe
Tel Aviv University
Ina Kubbe
Tel Aviv University
Open Panel

Abstract

It is generally agreed that corruption is harmful in many different ways in the long-run. Apart from the economic effects (as Mauro 1995, 1997; Rose-Ackermann, 1998) the social and political consequences of corruption are increasingly a major aspect of research (Della Porta 2000; Uslaner 2004; Richey 2010). Some studies conclude that high degrees of political corruption foster low levels of trust in political institutions and even erode general trust in the whole community (Morris 1991; Miller a. Listhaug 1999; Mishler a. Rose 2001; Anderson a. Tverdova 2003; Catterberg a. Moreno 2005; Richey 2010; Morris a. Klesner 2010). This, in turn, may have perilous consequences for the legitimacy of a political system, particularly for young democracies (Rose et al. 1998; Rose-Ackerman 1999; Tulchin a. Espach 2000; Montinola a. Jackman 2002; Seligson 2002; Chang a. Chu 2006). However, some authors claim that low levels of, in particular, political trust offer an opportunity for the further development of democracies (Norris 1999). This raises a lot of questions concerning the relationship between political corruption and trust. The article focuses on the interplay of political corruption and trust, both interpersonal and institutional. A systematic model of corruption and trust is measured using Transparency International and European Social Survey data. The European states which vary widely in the pervasiveness and level of corruption offer excellent cases for studying this relationship. Both new and established European democracies have experienced episodes of government corruption over the years. Based on survey data from 27 European countries the analysis shows that less interpersonal trust has a profoundly negative impact on the perception of corruption. High corruption degrees in turn lead to less trust in political institutions. Furthermore, the article aims to demonstrate that 20 years after the collapse of communism differences between Western and Central and Eastern European countries still prevail.