Mitchell A. Seligson, “The renaissance of political culture or the renaissance of the ecological fallacy?’ Comparative Political Studies (2002), pp. 272-292.

‘Summary:  This article tests Inglehart’s thesis quantitatively by analyzing data at both the macro and micro levels. Data from additional Latin American cases are incorporated into the investigation, and Ingleharts findings are not supported by the results.


Important Insight: Inglehart’s (1988) study of political culture commits the individualistic fallacy. Aggregating survey data to produce a single data point (i.e. political culture) carries great risk, so one must look also at micro-level analysis to determine if the relationship is actually operating as speculated.






*the (individualistic) ecological fallacy: incorrectly imputing to the higher order unit the aggregation of values of individuals.

*finds that macro-level data measuring trust and democracy do not seem to fit most cases throughout the world, except for a small group of highly industrialized, advanced democracies in northern Europe and North America. The linear association between interpersonal trust and level of democracy disappears when a control is introduced for per capita income.

*finds that at the micro level, the expected association between the civic culture attitudes and preferences for democracy did not emerge, either with Inglehart’s data or with the data from Latin America.

*Inglehart’s DV, years of continuous democracy, has been criticized because the effect (democracy) comes long before the cause (trust). While Inglehart acknowledges this, he clams that the problem is not overly troublesome since levels of trust are relatively stable over time – but as his own data show, this is not the case (e.g. US).