Will you still trust me tomorrow? The causal effect of terrorism on social trust
- 600 Downloads
How do people respond to terrorist events? Exploiting the timing of the 2010 wave of the annual ‘Society Opinion Media’ survey in Sweden, we study the causal effect of the Stockholm bombings of 11 December 2010 on Swedish public opinion. Our main contribution is that we draw explicit attention to the link between terrorist events and individuals’ social trust. While we identify a strong effect on individuals’ concern over terrorism, any observed effects with respect to generalised and neighbourhood trust appear to be short-lived—suggesting that isolated terror events have only limited, transitory effects on established social attitudes.
KeywordsTerrorism Public opinion Trust Threat
We thank the editor, three anonymous referees, Gianmarco Daniele, Jon Fiva, Joshua Holm, Paul Huth and Zuzana Murdoch for helpful comments and suggestions. The first author gratefully acknowledges FWO Vlaanderen (Grant No. G.0022.12) for financial support. This article was conceived while the second author was visiting Norwegian Business School BI, and he is grateful for their hospitality, and to the E.On Ruhrgas Stipend programme of the Research Council of Norway for financial support.
- Becker, G. S., & Rubinstein, Y. (2011). Fear and the response to terrorism: An economic analysis. LSE Centre for Economic Performance Discussion Paper, no. 1079.Google Scholar
- Bjørnskov, C., & Méon, P. G. (2014). Is trust the missing root of institutions, education, and development? Public Choice, 157(3–4), 641–669.Google Scholar
- Fukuyama, F. (1995). Trust: The social virtues and the creation of prosperity. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Huddy, L., Feldman, S., Lahav, G., & Taber, C. (2003). Fear and terrorism: Psychological reactions to 9/11. In P. Norris, M. Kern, & M. Just (Eds.), Framing terrorism: The news media, the government, and the public (pp. 255–278). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Lee, D., & Lemieux, T. (2009). Regression discontinuity designs in economics. NBER Working Paper, No. 14723.Google Scholar
- Putnam, R. D. (2002). Bowling together. The American Prospect, 13(3), 20–22.Google Scholar
- Putnam, R. D., Leonardi, R., & Nanetti, R. Y. (1993). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Weibull, L., Holmberg, S., Oscarsson, H., Martinsson, J., & Markstedt, E. (2013). The SOM institute cumulative dataset 1986–2011. Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg, SOM Institute.Google Scholar
- Wollebæk, D., Enjolras, B., Steen-Johnsen, K., & Ødegard, G. (2012). After Utøya: How a high-trust society reacts to terror: Trust and civic engagement in the aftermath of July 22. PS: Political Science and Politics, 45(1), 32–37.Google Scholar