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Public confidence and public services: it matters what you measure

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Governments around the world are concerned about declining public confidence in democratic institutions. It has been widely assumed that improving the performance of public services will help address this problem. Policy makers in the United Kingdom (UK) have therefore been puzzled to discover that public confidence in local government continued to decline at a time when local services seemed to be improving. The reason for this apparent paradox is that public confidence is influenced by a wide array of factors only some of which are captured by official measures. Since different data can lead to quite different conclusions, it matters what is measured.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 2012

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