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The Myth of the Post-Communist Citizen: Communist Legacies and Political Trust

  • Brad Epperly

Abstract

In assessing legacy-based explanations for the “trust deficit” observed in the post-communist region, I argue that one need first specify what kind of legacy is being considered: either between post-communist countries and another region, or among the post-communist states. I further contend that the most valid reference for legacies is Western Europe, not the globe. Using data from the European Social Survey (2002–10), I examine the association between sociodemographic factors and political trust in Eastern and Western Europe, and communist legacy effects among post-communist states. Results answer the question of legacies with a strong negative: no evidence is found that communist legacies account for the trust deficit, and I examine four empirical implications instead suggesting this deficit is the result of poor institutional performance.

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The author would like to thank Stephen Hanson, Josh Tucker, and conference participants at the NYU Florence La Pietra Dialogues, Midwestern Political Science Association, and Council for European Studies for feedback on earlier drafts of this essay.

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Social Science History
  • ISSN: 0145-5532
  • EISSN: 1527-8034
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