Fitzgerald J, Wolak J. INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW. 37 (1) (January 01, 2016): 130-146.
When people say that they trust local authorities, is it simply because they have generalized trust in national government? Or is trust in local government rooted in distinctive considerations, connected to the character of local communities and the balance of power across levels of government? We explore how trust in local and national government differs across individuals and across countries in western Europe. We find that people trust local government for different reasons than those that drive trust in national government. Cross-national differences in levels of trust in government reflect the character of national institutions. While both proportional representation systems and federal systems are power-sharing designs, each has distinctive consequences for trust. When opportunities for voice in local government are high, as in decentralized systems, people report greater trust in local government. When opportunities for voice in national government are limited, as in majoritarian systems, people report lower trust for national government and higher trust in local government.