The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 832–852 | Cite as

How do Multilateral Institutions Influence Individual Perceptions of International Affairs? Evidence from Europe and Asia

  • Ayse Kaya
  • James T Walker
Original Article


To date there has been no systematic study of the relationship between individuals’ opinions of different institutions and their perceptions of world affairs. This article tries to fill this gap by using a large cross-country data set comprising nine EU members and seven Asian nations and instrumental variable bivariate probit regression analysis. Controlling for a host of factors, the article shows that individuals’ confidence in multilateral institutions affects their perceptions of whether or not their country is being treated fairly in international affairs. This finding expands upon both theoretical work on multilateral institutions that has focused on state actors’ rationale for engaging in multilateral cooperation and empirical work that has treated confidence in multilateral institutions as a dependent variable. The article also shows that individuals’ confidence in different international organizations has undifferentiated effects on their perceptions of whether or not their country is being treated fairly in international affairs, though individuals more knowledgeable about international affairs exhibit slightly different attitudes. Finally, the article demonstrates significant differences in opinion across Europe and Asia.


ASEAN European Union international affairs World Bank World Trade Organization United Nations 


Aucune étude systématique n’a, à ce jour, été menée sur le lien entre les opinions des individus concernant les différentes institutions et leurs perceptions des affaires mondiales. Cet article tente de combler cette lacune en utilisant un vaste ensemble de données transnationales concernant neuf pays membres de l’UE et sept nations d’Asie, et en estimant un modèle probit bivarié à variables instrumentales. Tout en contrôlant un ensemble de facteurs, cette étude montre que la confiance des individus dans les institutions multilatérales joue sur leurs perceptions du traitement plus ou moins équitable accordé à leur pays, dans le cadre des affaires internationales. Ce constat s’appuie sur des travaux théoriques sur les institutions multilatérales rendant compte de la logique sous jacente à l’engagement des acteurs d’État dans la coopération multilatérale, ainsi que des études empiriques qui traitent la confiance dans les institutions multilatérales comme une variable dépendante. L’article montre également que la confiance des individus dans différentes organisations internationales joue de manière indifférenciée sur leurs perceptions du traitement plus ou moins équitable accordé à leur pays dans le cadre des affaires internationales, et ceci bien que l’on constate des positions légèrement différentes parmi les individus ayant une meilleure connaissance des affaires internationales. Enfin, l’article montre des différences significatives d’opinion dans les pays d'Europe et d’Asie.



We would like to thank Mark Casson, Francisco Requena, Daniela La Penna, Asli Leblebicioglu, Lynne S. Schofield and the two referees for their comments, which have enhanced the article. Any errors are our own.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ayse Kaya
    • 1
  • James T Walker
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceSwarthmore CollegeSwarthmoreUSA
  2. 2.Henley Business School at the University of Reading, WhiteknightsReadingUK

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