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Faith no more? The divergence of political trust between urban and rural Europe

Frieder Mitsch, Neil Lee and Elizabeth Morrow

LSE Research Online Documents on Economics from London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library

Abstract: Events such as Brexit and the Gilet Jaunes protests have highlighted the spatial nature of populism. In particular, there has been increasing political divergence between urban and rural areas, with rural areas apparently having lost faith in national governments. We investigate this divergence using data on over 125,000 from the European Social Survey from 2008-2018. We show that people in rural areas have lower political trust than urban or peri-urban residents, with this difference clear for six different forms of political institutions, including politicans, political parties, and national parliaments. There has been divergence of political trust between urban and rural Europe since 2008, although this is primarily driven by Southern Europe. While these results can be primarily explained by demographic differences between cities and the countryside, divergent economic experiences, differences in values and perspectives that public services are less effective outside of urban areas, there is a residual 'rural effect' beyond this. We argue that the polarization of urban-rural political trust has important implications for the functioning of political democracies.

Keywords: political trust; urban-rural division; polarisation; European Social Survey (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N0 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 30 pages
Date: 2021-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-pol and nep-soc
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (3)

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