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Unformatted text preview: http://ras.sagepub.com Administrative Sciences International Review of DOI: 10.1177/0020852307085733 2008; 74; 47 International Review of Administrative Sciences Steven Van de Walle, Steven Van Roosbroek and Geert Bouckaert Trust in the public sector: is there any evidence for a long-term decline? http://ras.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/74/1/47 The online version of this article can be found at: Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com On behalf of: International Institute of Administrative Sciences at: can be found International Review of Administrative Sciences Additional services and information for http://ras.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://ras.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: http://ras.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/74/1/47 SAGE Journals Online and HighWire Press platforms): (this article cites 17 articles hosted on the Citations distribution. 2008 International Institute of Administrative Sciences. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized at CALIFORNIA STATE UNIV on April 7, 2008 http://ras.sagepub.com Downloaded from Trust in the public sector: is there any evidence for a long-term decline? Steven Van de Walle, Steven Van Roosbroek and Geert Bouckaert Abstract Concerns with declining public trust in government have become a permanent element of the contemporary political discourse. This concern also extends to levels of citizens trust in the public administration and public services. Trust is said to be declining, and this decline is generally seen as detrimental to public service delivery. In this article, we examine the main elements in this discussion, review the existing international survey data and summarize the main findings for Organiza- tion for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Citizens trust in the public sector is found to fluctuate, and the data generally do not show con- sistently declining levels of trust. Furthermore, in some countries there simply are insufficient data to come to any conclusions at all about time trends in citizen trust in the public sector. Points for practitioners This article summarizes some of the survey material on citizens trust in the public administration. It allows practitioners to compare trends in public trust in their country across time and space. The findings lead us to reject the hypothesis of a universal decline of trust in the public sector. The article warns against using opin- ion poll results without considering context. The long-term and comparative perspective on citizens trust in the public sector is all too often absent from the policy discourse that is frequently based on assumptions and ad hoc approaches....
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