Citizen Attitudes on Politicians’ Pay: Trust Issues Are Not Solved by Delegation

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Citizens are generally opposed to politicians receiving a high pay. We investigate the degree to which this aversion is moderated by citizens’ individual-level trust in politicians and whether institutional delegation can moderate the reactions to proposed changes in politicians’ pay. Using a survey experiment, we confirm that trust in politicians is a key predictor of attitudes regarding their pay. Distrust toward politicians seems to matter much more than general attitudes on income inequality when citizens form opinions on politicians’ pay. Furthermore, citizens’ aversion to high pay for politicians is affected by institutional delegation, but such delegation only lessen the opposition to pay raises modestly, leaving most citizens firmly against pay raises for politicians. Finally, while citizens’ trust in politicians matters greatly for their attitudes regarding politicians pay, proposed changes in politicians’ pay do not conversely affect citizen’s perceptions of the politicians.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)389-407
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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