Distrust and Political Turnover

55 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2018

See all articles by Nathan Nunn

Nathan Nunn

Harvard University - Department of Economics

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics

Jaya Wen

Yale University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2018


We present findings that document one way in which a society's culture can affect political outcomes. Examining an annual panel of democratic countries over six decades, we show that severe economic downturns are more likely to cause political turnover in countries that have lower levels of generalized trust. The relationship is only found among democracies and for regular leader turnover, which suggests that the underlying mechanism works through leader accountability and the electoral process. Moreover, we find that the effects of trust on turnover are greatest during years with regularly-scheduled elections, and within democracies with a parliamentary system, a fully free media, and greater stability. The estimates suggest that generalized trust affects political institutions by influencing the extent to which citizens attribute economic downturns to the mistakes of politicians.

Keywords: Political Turnover, Recession, Trust

JEL Classification: D72, P16, P17, P51

Suggested Citation

Nunn, Nathan and Qian, Nancy and Wen, Jaya, Distrust and Political Turnover (January 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12555, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3098131

Nathan Nunn (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

Jaya Wen

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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