Internet and social trust: micro evidences and impact mechanisms

Apr. 6,2021
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Based on the data of Chinese General Social Survey in 2013, this paper examined the impact of individuals’ Internet usage frequency on their social trust. After using instrumental variable estimation to overcome the endogenous bias of the model, the results show that the increase in the frequency of individuals’ Internet use can significantly increase their level of social trust. The heterogeneity analysis shows that high-income and highly educated individuals have a greater increase of social trust level in the use of Internet. The mechanism analysis shows that using Internet can improve the social trust level by promoting offline social interaction and improving interpersonal relationship satisfaction. It also reduces social trust level by influencing users’ social equity perception, but the increasing disagreements caused by the display of diversified information on the Internet have not lowered the social trust level. The above conclusions are still established under various robustness tests, which indicates that strengthening the Internet infrastructure construction and expanding the base of Internet users are important ways to improve the social trust level. This conclusion helps to clarify the misunderstanding that the Internet has a negative impact on social trust, and thus to strengthen the social consensus on building China into a strong country in cyberspace.

Corresponding Author: WANG Weitong
CNKI Press Officer: LI Jingjing YANG Na

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