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Trust in government in times of crisis: A quasi-experiment during the two world wars✰

Ahmed Skali (), David Stadelmann and Benno Torgler

Journal of Comparative Economics, 2021, vol. 49, issue 2, 277-289

Abstract: Do crises erode trust in government? To answer this question, we leverage the quasi-experimental setting of the sharply increased military threat to the neutral country of Switzerland during the two world wars as an exogenous shock. In doing so, we exploit a unique feature of Swiss politics: government issuance of pre-referenda voting recommendations. We use constituent adherence to government recommendations as a behavioral proxy for trust in government, measured in real time prior to, during, and after the crisis. Our empirical estimates provide strong evidence that constituents are significantly less likely to follow governmental voting recommendations during wartime.

Keywords: Trust in government; Crisis; WWII; World War II; Referenda; Switzerland (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D74 H56 H79 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2020.09.005

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:49:y:2021:i:2:p:277-289