Social trust and the efficiency in the implementation of public policies: evidence from China’s new rural pension scheme

DING Congming1,2 WU Yujia1 QIN Shuyuan1 LIANG Zhenqiao1

(1.School of Public Affairs, Chongqing University)
(2.Center for Public Economy & Public Policy Research, Chongqing University)

【Abstract】Based on the new type of the rural social endowment insurance policy that was tried out in 2009, this paper used CFPS 2016 data and examined the impact of the level of social trust on rural residents’ participation in China’s new rural pension scheme. The results showed that the level of social trust played a significant role in promoting rural residents’ participation in the new rural pension scheme. The probability of residents who had a high level of social trust and participated in this scheme was 13.9% higher than that of residents with a low level of social trust. In order to avoid the estimation errors caused by omitted variables, the study constructed a quasi-natural experiment of “cross-reference treatment” between the husband and the wife to check the effect of the difference in the trust level on the participation behavior of the husband and the wife. The conclusion again supported that the difference in the level of social trust, rather than other possible omitted variables, led to the difference in the behaviors of rural residents. Finally, this study used the altruistic evaluation of the respondents as an instrument variable of social trust, and the results were still robust. The conclusion of the study showed that the level of social trust was an important soft environment for the implementation of public policies in rural areas. A high level of social trust was conducive to increasing the probability of public participation in public affairs, thus improving the efficiency in the implementation of public policies.

【Keywords】 social trust; new rural pension; public policy;


【Funds】 the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, Chongqing University (2018CDJSK01XK06) the Innovation Capacity Improvement Project for Chongqing University (2019CDSKXYGG0043)

Download this article

(Translated by CHEN Danni)


    [1]. ① The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions. Of course, the author is responsible for this. [^Back]

    [2]. ① The calculation expression of marginal effect of social trust level is as follows:, the average marginal effect is 0.157 by using the estimation coefficient of Column (2). [^Back]

    [3]. ② In the sample of this paper, the average participation rate of the new rural cooperative medical insurance is 93%, while the average participation rate of the new rural pension scheme is 62%. [^Back]

    [4]. ① According to the family financial person code in the questionnaire, this paper selects the family financial person as the family decision-maker, and takes its social trust level as the key explanatory variable. [^Back]

    [5]. ② Similarly, in view of whether having participated in the new rural cooperative medical insurance or not, this paper uses the family participation rate of the new rural cooperative medical insurance as the explained variable for the regression, and the social trust level of family financial decision-makers is significant at the level of 1%, with a coefficient of 0.014. [^Back]

    [6]. ① See the last row of Table 1 for variable setting and related statistical characteristics. [^Back]


    1 Chang, F., Yang, C., Wang, A., et al. Management World (管理世界), (3) (2014).

    2 Cheng, L., Zhang, Y. & Liu, Z. Economic Research Journal (经济研究), (8) (2013).

    3 Ding, C., Zhou, Y. & Liang, Z. China Economic Quarterly (经济学(季刊)), (2) (2018).

    4 Fei, X. 乡土中国,生育制度,乡土重建. Beijing: The Commercial Press, (2015).

    5 Huo, P., Zhang, J., Peng, C. et al. Journal of Agrotechnical Economics (农业技术经济), (6) (2016).

    6 Yue, Z. Chinese Journal of Population Science (中国人口科学), (5) (2004).

    7 Shen, B. & Guo, Z. China Rural Economy (中国农村经济), (1) (2018).

    8 Shen, G. & Zhang, C. Comparative Economic & Social Systems (经济社会体制比较), (1) (2016).

    9 Shi, S., Fan, L. & Wang, Y. Finance & Trade Economics (财贸经济), (11) (2009).

    10 Sun, X., Xu, Z., Tao, R. et al. Sociological Studies (社会学研究), (4) (2007).

    11 Wei, X., Tang, Z., Wang, L. et al. Review of Industrial Economics (产业经济评论), (3) (2016).

    12 Wu, Y. China Rural Economy (中国农村经济), (10) (2011).

    13 Zhang, C. & Chen, B. Economic Research Journal (经济研究), (11) (2014).

    14 Zhang, C. & Hu, Z. Economic Perspectives (经济学动态), (3) (2016).

    15 Zhao, D. & Liang, H. Chinese Journal of Population Science (中国人口科学), (1) (2009).

    16 Zhang, W. & Deng, F. Social Sciences in China (中国社会科学), (3) (2003).

    17 Zhang, Y., Cheng, L. & Liu, Z. China Economic Quarterly (经济学(季刊)), (2) (2016).

    18 Zhong, G. & Li, F. Sociological Studies (社会学研究), (3) (2012).

    19 Aghion, P., Y. Algan, P. Cahuc, and A. Shleifer, 2010, “Regulation and Distrust”, Quarterly Journal of Economics,125 (3): 1015–1049.

    20 Altonji, J. G., E. E. Todd, and R. T. Christopher, 2005, “Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools”, Journal of Political Economy, 113 (1): 151–184.

    21 Citrin, J., 1974, “Comment: The Political Relevance of Trust in Government”, The American Political Science Review, 68 (3): 973–988.

    22 Durante, R., 2009, “Risk, Cooperation and the Economic Origins of Social Trust: An Empirical Investigation”, SSRN Working Paper No.1576774,

    23 Guiso, L., P. Sapienza, and L. Zingales, 2004, “The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development”, The American Economic Review, 94 (3): 526–556.

    24 Hirsch, F., 1977, “Social Limits to Growth”, Economic Analysis & Policy, 7 (1): 61–67.

    25 Knack, S., 2002, “Social Capital and the Quality of Government: Evidence from the States”, American Journal of Political Science, 46(4): 772–785.

    26 Luhmann, N., 1979, Trust and Power, New York: John Wiley and Sons.

    27 Newton, K., 2006, “Political Support, Social Capital, Civil Society and Political and Economic Performance”, Political Studies, 54 (4): 846–864.

    28 Newton, K., D. Stolle, and S. Zmerli, 2018, “Social and Political Trust”, in Uslaner, E. M. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Social and Political Trust, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.67–93.

    29 Pattie, C., and R. Johnston, 1997, “Routes to Party Choice: Ideology, Economic Evaluations and Voting at the 1997 British General Election”, European Journal of Political Research, 39(3): 373–389.

    30 Putnam, R. D., and D. R. Leonardi, 1994, “Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy”, Contemporary Sociology, 26 (3): 306–308.

    32 Rothstein, B., and E. M. Uslaner, 2005, “All for All: Equality and Social Trust”, Social Science Electronic Publishing, 58 (1): 41–72.

    32 Rothstein, B., and E. M. Uslaner. “All for All: Equality and Social Trust”, Social Science Electronic Publishing, 58 (1): 41–72, (2005).

    33 Knack, S., and P. Keefer. “Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-country Investigation”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics,112 (4): 1251–1288, (1997).

    34 Uslaner, E. M., and M. M. Brown. “Trust, Inequality, and Civic Engagement”, American Politics Research, 33(6): 868–894, (2005).

    35 Van, D. & Meer, J. “Rain or Fog? An Empirical Examination of Social Capital’s Rainmaker Effects”, in Hooghe, M. and D. Stolle (eds.) Generating Social Capital, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave, pp. 133–151, (2003).

    36 Zak, P. J., and S. Knack. “Trust and Growth”, Economic Journal, 111 (470): 295–321, (2001).

This Article


CN: 11-1262/F

Vol , No. 05, Pages 109-123

May 2019


Article Outline



  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Literature review and theoretical hypothesis
  • 3 Data, model construction and variable setting
  • 4 Measurement results and analyses
  • 5 Conclusions
  • Footnote