Causes and Consequences of Political Trust in East Asia
Wang, Ching-Hsing 1979-
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My dissertation employs the empirical implications of theoretical models (EITM) framework to examine the causes of political trust and the effects of political trust on different forms of political participation in four East Asian countries (i.e., China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan). Theoretically, I create a simple formal model to explain political trust and redefine a formal model of voting developed by Downs (1957) and Riker and Ordeshook (1968) to investigate the relationship between political trust and political participation. Specifically, I argue that political trust is a function of evaluation of government performance, perception of political corruption and their interaction and that political trust exerts not only a direct effect but also an indirect effect via civic duty on political participation. Empirically, with regard to the causes of political trust, as expected, I find that that an individual’s assessment of government performance is positively associated with her placement of political trust, whereas an individual’s perception of corruption is negatively related to her political trust in these four East Asia countries. However, there are opposite interaction effects between East Asian democracies (i.e., negative in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) and China (i.e., positive). This might be because people living under democratic and authoritarian regimes have different expectation of political corruption. On the other hand, with regard to the effects of political trust on political participation (i.e., voter turnout, campaign participation, direct political contact and system-challenging behavior), my empirical findings do not always show the same pattern as my theoretical expectation and imply that the relationship between political trust and political participation depends on the form of political behavior and varies from country to country. To sum up, my dissertation makes some contributions: (1) helps broaden our understanding of political trust in East Asia from the perspective of rational choice theory; (2) provides a clear linkage between theoretical model and empirical analysis of political trust; (3) confirms the superiority of institutional explanations for political trust over cultural explanations; and (4) shows the indirect effect of political trust on political participation via civic duty.