ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Cross-cultural and cross-survey measurement equivalence of political trust

Stéfanie André

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 2 - Law Building, Room 026
Date: 2012-07-10 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-20


Political trust is seen as an important attribute to modern representative democracy. It is also seen as an indicator of immigrants’ political integration in their destination society. However, authors do not agree on how political trust should be measured and which items contribute to the overarching concept of political trust. In this paper we address the question ”How do we measure political trust?” and describe our research on the comparability of the measurement of political trust between European Union immigrants, none-European Union immigrants and natives in the European Union. The focus of the research is on the multi-group confirmatory factor analysis and on the differences and similarities of the measurement between two European surveys (EVS and ESS).
We not only compare within countries and across countries, but also across two surveys. We use data from the European Social Survey (ESS) and European Values Survey (EVS) to to measure political trust. First, we evaluate with confirmatory factor analysis which of the factor models that are described and used in the literature fit the overall data the best. It is possible that the different surveys show different best-fitting models; We use the seven items for political trust that are provided in both surveys: trust in politicians, in political parties, in parliament, in the police, in the legal system, in the United Nations and in the European Parliament.
When the best-fitting model is found we analyze the data in a multi-group confirmatory factor analysis. We differentiate the three different groups within each country and between the countries to see if we measure the same attribute (political trust) in all groups and all countries and to see if political trust can be compared between these groups. If political trust can be compared, a ranking of countries on their mean political trust can be produced and compared between the surveys.