What explains low levels of trust in government institutions in democratizing Latin American countries? We examine this question in the Dominican Republic, employing data from three surveys conducted over 1994-2001. Our analysis finds that trust in government institutions is shaped primarily by perceptions of economic and political performance by government. There is little evidence of a relationship between civic engagement and institutional trust, and no relationship between democratic values and institutional trust. We find a curvilinear effect between socioeconomic status and institutional trust, with middle-sector groups significantly less trusting of government institutions than either the poor or the wealthy. Age has a nonlinear effect as older generations, who experienced authoritarianism as children, are considerably more trusting of democratic institutions, contradicting predictions by culturalist early-life socialization arguments. We conclude that low trust per se is not the major challenge for governance.
Espinal, Rosario; Hartlyn, Jonathan; and Morgan, Jana, "Performance Still Matters: Explaining Trust in Government in the Dominican Republic" (2006). Political Science Publications and Other Works.