IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Capacity to trust? Institutional capacity, conflict, and political trust in Africa, 2000–2005


  • Marc L Hutchison

    (Department of Political Science, University of Rhode Island)

  • Kristin Johnson

    (Department of Political Science, University of Rhode Island)


Civil conflict and state failure has often been linked to breakdowns in regime legitimacy. Trust in government is a critical element of regime legitimacy and the state’s ability to mediate between the demands of competing groups within society. We contend that government capability is a primary factor in shaping individuals’ ascription of legitimacy to the state. Capable governments foster perceptions of legitimacy while poor institutional performance decreases the degree to which individuals trust their government. While some tests of this relationship exist in extant literature, much of the work fails to integrate both micro- and macro-level factors, is confined to regions with established state performance, or is based on single-country studies. Our approach avoids many of these deficiencies by using 32 Afrobarometer surveys collected across 16 different countries from 2000 to 2005 and employing hierarchical linear models to estimate the effects of temporal-specific, state-level variables on levels of individual trust. We find that higher institutional capacity is associated with increased levels of individual trust in government across African countries. Furthermore, we demonstrate that this effect on political trust is independent of other individual-level attitudes, socio-economic characteristics, and a state’s prior internal conflicts.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc L Hutchison & Kristin Johnson, 2011. "Capacity to trust? Institutional capacity, conflict, and political trust in Africa, 2000–2005," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 48(6), pages 737-752, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:48:y:2011:i:6:p:737-752

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Patricia Justino & Ivan Cardona & Rebecca Mitchell & Catherine Müller, 2012. "Quantifying the Impact of Women’s Participation in Post-Conflict Economic Recovery," HiCN Working Papers 131, Households in Conflict Network.
    2. Enzo Nussio & Ben Oppenheim, 2013. "Trusting the Enemy: Confidence in the state among ex-combatants," HiCN Working Papers 144, Households in Conflict Network.
    3. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1400-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Wong P-H., 2014. "How can political trust be built after civil wars? : lessons from post-conflict Sierra Leone," MERIT Working Papers 083, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:48:y:2011:i:6:p:737-752. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.