Size and Political Trust: evidence from Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


This paper deals with two questions on the relations between the size of political systems and political trust. First, does citizens' trust in national elected officials differ from their trust in local elected officials? Second, what is the relationship between citizens' trust in elected local government officials and the size of local government units? These questions were answered on the basis of survey data from Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. We found that trust in local officeholders is typically and often considerably higher than trust in national politicians. Moreover, the evidence from these four countries suggests that size of municipality has a modest negative effect on political trust. Further evidence suggests that this negative effect is the result of a tendency of citizens in small municipalities to be more satisfied with their local government than residents in large units. This further evidence also shows that whatever its origins (intensive personal relations or a dense network of civil organisations) social trust is not vital for an adequate understanding of political trust.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)793-812
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironment and planning C: Government and Policy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • METIS-210551
  • IR-98874

Cite this