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A Status Quo Theory of Generalized Trust: Why Trust May Reduce the Prospects for Democratic Transition in East Asia

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Does generalized trust lead to democratic transitions? Despite the voluminous literature on trust and democracy, very little examines the link between trust and democratic regime change. We theorize that generalized trust should lead to support for the status quo rather than support for regime change. In democracies, this means that citizens in effect support the democratic regime. However, in autocracies this status quo bias means that trusting individuals support the autocracy. We test this argument using data from the Asian Barometer Survey. Our simultaneous equation model shows that generalized trust has a negative impact on support for regime change regardless of regime type. This suggests that generalized trust—if anything—constitutes a headwind against democratic regime change rather than a facilitating factor.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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