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The relationship between infrastructure and trust in local government is under-researched yet relevant for many countries. This paper examines how proximity to local infrastructure relates to public trust in local governments. Using data from the sixth round of the Afrobarometer survey in Cameroon, we construct an infrastructure indicator index to measure respondents’ proximity to local infrastructure. The index considers whether the respondent lives in a primary sampling unit (PSU) with access to electricity, water, cell phone service, and a sewerage system. It also takes into account whether the respondent lives in a PSU with paved roads where a school, police station, and health centre are within walking distance. We examine causality by using the presence or absence of a bank in the respondent’s PSU as an instrumental variable for local infrastructure. The study shows a robust positive and statistically significant relationship between proximity to infrastructure and public trust in local government. The results suggest that Cameroonians’ willingness to reward infrastructure in their neighbourhoods by trusting their government officials who might provide these facilities is indicative of a desire for bottom-up political accountability in the absence of citizens’ ability to hold top government officials accountable due to limited levels of democracy. Infrastructure provision and its variations have become an important measure of government performance, with communities that have better access to infrastructure conditions expressing greater trust in local government officials.

Wilfried Youmbi

Wilfried Youmbi is a PhD candidate in the Department of Economics at the University of Western Ontario

Daniel Kofi Banini

Daniel Kofi Banini is an instructor in comparative politics and public policy at Eastern Illinois University.