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Trust in Government: What is it? How to measure? What can be done?


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Presentation by Bo Rothstein at the OECD Workshop on “Joint Learning for an OECD Trust Strategy” on 14 October 2013. Mr. Rothstein discusses how to capture the quality of government and its impact on social trust. He also provides suggestions for what can be done to strengthen quality of government?

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Trust in Government: What is it? How to measure? What can be done?

  1. 1. Trust in Government: What it is? How to measure? What can be done? Bo Rothstein The Quality of Government Institute Department of Political Science University of Gothenburg
  2. 2. The EU Regional Surveys of Quality of Government  First round in 2008, 34,000 respondents in 172 regions in 18 countries  Second round in 2012, 84,000 respondents in 184 regiions 25 countries. Total interviews 118,000  Detailed questions about personal experiences & perceptions of QoG for education, health care and police
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  4. 4. Capturing the Quality of Government  Questions about bribes and quality of services but also about other ways that impartiality is breached. For example • The police force gives special advantages to certain people in my area.” • “All citizens are treated equally by the police force in my area” • ‘All citizens are treated equally in the public education system in my area’ • ‘All citizens are treated equally in the public health care system in my area’
  5. 5. One Result from the European QoG Surveys • In countries where a large majority percieve the authorities as corrupt, only a small minority report having been asked to pay a bribe • Bribes seem to be the minor problem for what people in general define as corruption • Instead, it is various forms of favoritism in the implementation of public services that people define a corruption
  6. 6. QoG and Social Trust • Low levels of QoG turn out to have very strong negative impact on social trust even controlling for • Ineguality • Ethnic Diversity • Participation in voluntary associations • The Political environment • Demographic (individual) variables
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  8. 8. The EQI  A composite index based on 16 QoG survey questions from 2009-2010.  Round 2 happening now.
  9. 9. What is Trust in Government? • Important to differentiate between trust in the public adminstration (including the legal system) and the elected parts of ”the government • Huge differences in the data between if people trust elected officials or appointed officials • In Sweden, confidence in appointed officials have for long been higher than for elected officials • The ”home team” effect. Partisanship versus impartiality
  10. 10. What can be done to strenghten QoG? 1. Free universal education 2. Universal social services/insurance systems 3. Fairness (impartiality) in the implementation of public policies 4. Merit based recruitment and promotion to the civil service 5. Gender equality