Trust in politicians and the provision of public goods: Evidence from Germany
This is a Mock Job Talk.
Trust in politicians can influence government turnover, economic and government performance as well as the demand side of policy-making -- voters' preferences over policies. In this paper I study how a lack of trust in politicians influences the supply side. Using data on 63,000 legislative documents, 75,000 individual roll-call voting decisions as well as survey evidence for more than 2,000 candidates in German federal elections between 2009 and 2021, I show that low political trust leads politicians to be less concerned with the provision of many types of public goods - most importantly climate protection. In order to establish causality of these results, I follow an instrumental variable approach. My instrument functions similar to a shift-share instrument and leverages variation in internal migration patterns and differential exposure to common state-level shocks to political trust. An analysis of the underlying mechanism suggests that the results are mostly driven by the selection of different politicians rather than pandering to voters' preferences.