The Legacy of State Repression on Contemporary Trust: Indiscriminate versus Targeted Repression in Soviet Russia

Cocic, Nemanja / Tabakis, Chrysostomos / Ten, Andrey

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Indiscriminate state repression leaves long-term negative consequences on interpersonal trust and trust in state institutions. In this paper, we investigate whether a variation in density of Soviet police forces, which governed the level ofselectivity in repression execution, lead to heterogeneity in long-term trust response to repression. Similar to other studies, we find that both horizontal trust and vertical trust are negatively associated with indiscriminate repression exposure in the past. However, our results suggest that the magnitude of the negative effect diminishes with repression executed in a more selective fashion proxied by the intensity of the perpetrator’s deployment. Surprisingly, we find that trust response might even inverse to positive in localities where the state repression had been accompanied by a perpetrator’s presence at extremely high levels, i.e., when the state could ensure highly selective repression. Overall, our findings propose that the legacy of totalitarian regimes on horizontal and vertical trust might depend on the state’s capacity to execute repression with more or less precision against perceived enemies.

Issue Date
KDI School of Public Policy and Management
Series Title
KDI School Working Paper 21-02
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