Trust in Government: An Investigation

Jordan Barth


It is critical for a citizenry to trust government processes and the officials who carry out these processes for our political system to function properly. This paper seeks to investigate whether specific demographic factors play a role in one’s decision to trust government while making a strong methodological contribution to previous political trust literature. While previous scholars have used time-series analysis or dyad ratios with public opinion polls, I utilize the 2012 American National Election Survey (ANES) and come to different conclusions. Previous literature in the field shows that race, level of education and income play an important role in the development of one’s ideology and their policy preferences. It should follow that they play a similarly large role in determining respondents’ trust in government. Performing tabular and probabilistic analysis using 2012 ANES data, this paper finds that race/ethnicity, level of education and income as predictors in determining one’s trust in government. The results obtained shed new light on the work done by previous scholars and can be used by politicians and pundits alike to gain the public’s trust in government.


trust; government; polarization; political discourse

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