Covid and the inevitability of institutional distrust

Καθώς η πανδημία συνεχίζεται, μια σειρά δυνάμεων θα συνδυαστούν για να μειώσουν την πίστη στους πολιτικούς θεσμούς. Ο τρίτος χρόνος της πανδημίας θα είναι εξαιρετικά επιζήμιος.

Some bleak thoughts for 2022

The longer the pandemic goes on, the more trust will decline in institutions that have to make visible, salient decisions amidst changing circumstances, information and trade-offs while serving a population with wildly varying preferences.

This somewhat depressing insight may or may not seem obvious to you, but it wasn’t apparent to me until recently. The emergence of Omicron, which will propel us into a third year of the pandemic, and growing liberal dissatisfaction with the Biden administration helped crystalize this realization. My thinking on this is based on fitting what we know about certain biases (motivated reasoning, negativity bias, hindsight bias) on the dynamics and longevity of the pandemic.

As the pandemic continues, a series of forces will combine to reduce faith in political institutions. The third year of the pandemic will be extraordinarily damaging.

First, some empirical evidence: a team of scholars from Aarhus University (Alexander Bor, Frederik Juhl Jørgensen, and Michael Bang Petersen) tracked public opinion of 6,000 people across four fairly different countries (USA, Italy, Denmark and Hungary) in 2020.

The good news: trust between citizens remained relatively stable. We are not at each others throats!

The bad news: satisfaction with the political system declined in each setting, as did the sense that the country was being governed in a democratic fashion.

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