Hooghe, M., & Okolikj, M. (2018) The Long-term Effects of Economic Crisis on Political Trust in Europe. Is There a Negativity Bias in the Relation Between Economic Performance and Political Support?

Abstract: Previous studies have shown that the economic crisis starting in 2008 has been associated with a sharp decline in political trust in liberal democracies, and this literature suggest that in this manner an economic downturn might contribute to a more structural crisis of democratic legitimacy. Already from 2011 on, however, unemployment levels in industrialized democracies started to decline. In this paper we investigate how public opinion reacted to this gradual economic recovery. Previous work on a negativity bias in economic evaluations would suggest that public opinion reacts more sharply to an economic downturn than to economic growth. Our analysis of the full ESS data from 2002 to 2016 suggests that public reacted positively to economic recovery, with levels of political trust gradually rising to pre-crisis levels. In the discussion section, we reflect on what our findings imply, not just for the nature of political trust, but also for the study of long term trends in political trust.