Why is trust lower in Quebec? A cultural explanation
Refereed Article, 2022
Wu, C., & Dawson, A. (2022). Why is trust lower in Quebec? A cultural explanation. Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue canadienne de sociologie, 59(3), 309-329.
In this article, we provide a cultural explanation of a long-standing trust puzzle in Canada—Quebecers trust much less than their fellow Canadians. Specifically, we develop a novel approach to empirically assess the historical influence of the Catholic Church, using the Quiet Revolution (a period of abrupt modernization in Quebec) as a natural experiment. We find that older cohorts socialized prior to the Quiet Revolution are significantly less trusting—a distinctive trend that is most pronounced among Catholics. Conversely, in the rest of Canada older cohorts are more trusting, following the trend commonly found in other countries. Furthermore, measures of both religious beliefs and modernization account for a large part of the birth cohort trust gap in Quebec. The findings suggest that low trust in Quebec is rooted in the province's Catholic cultural heritage, but that the legacy of the Quiet Revolution is gradually changing the trust culture.