Skip to main content

Social Trust and Civic Engagement across Time and Generations

Buy Article:

$43.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


This article uses long-term panel data on three generations of Americans to address several issues concerning the state of social trust and civic engagement and their inter-relationships. Social trust is indicated by the standard index and civic engagement by organizational involvement and volunteerism. We demonstrate that the decline in trust and engagement has been led by Generation X, rather than the Baby Boomers, who compare quite favorably with their predecessors, the highly lauded ‘Long Civic Generation.’ Baby Boomers do, however, have a more sporadic and short-lived record of civic engagement than the preceding generation. Both social trust and, especially, civic engagement are also subject to consequential life cycle effects that may be disguised in cross-sectional designs. The interdependence between social trust and civic engagement is evident as individuals age, though trust is more a cause than a consequence of civic engagement, and the link disappears for voluntary associations based upon exclusive identities.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 342–379. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500077

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: aDepartment of Political Science 9420, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9420, USA., Email: 2: bPolitical Science Department, 210 Barrows Hall #1950, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1950, USA., Email:

Publication date: December 1, 2004

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Partial Open Access Content
Partial Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more