In this exploratory study, we investigate whether public sector officials and non-public sector officials differ in the trust they have in members of society and whether this difference is associated with the welfare regime in which they work. Using survey data from the sixth round of the European Social Survey, we compare public sector officials' trust to that of non-public sector officials in 13 countries with four different forms of welfare regimes. Our results demonstrate that public officials have a higher level of trust than non-public officials do. Furthermore, trust among both public and non-public sector officials is much higher in social-democratic regimes, followed by corporatist countries, liberal regimes, Israel (as a unique case) and, lastly, southern European regimes. As expected, public officials' degree of trust reflects the general trends of their societies. Interestingly, in social-democratic regimes, differences between trust among public and non-public officials are the highest compared to the other regimes. In addition, an individual-level analysis in five countries illustrative of each welfare regime indicates that while income, belonging to a minority group, and age are significant factors in explaining public officials' trust, socio-demographic variables contribute little to the differences between public and non-public officials. Given the critical role of trust in the functioning of the welfare state, our results imply that further awareness and mechanisms for increasing the degree of trust of citizens among public officials are warranted.

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Social Policy and Administration
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Van de Walle, S., & Lahat, L. (Lihi). (2016). Do Public Officials Trust Citizens? A Welfare State Perspective. Social Policy and Administration. doi:10.1111/spol.12234