Crisis and Correction: Do Government Rectification Efforts Restore Citizen Trust After Governance Failure?
53 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2020 Last revised: 21 Apr 2023
Date Written: November 28, 2022
In a substantial literature on trust in government, the impact on trust of governance crises and government efforts to fix its mistakes is understudied and unmeasured. We analyze a cycle of crises and contribute a theory of heterogeneous response to correction efforts. We study this in China, an authoritarian state with high trust in government. We leverage the occurrence of two exogenous shocks—a vaccine crisis and a subsequent government correction effort—with administration of a face-to-face, nationally representative survey in 2018. We theorize that response to government correction efforts depends on prior exposure to similar governance failures. Using days from the crisis as an instrument, we find that: (1) the more salient the crisis, the lower the trust in government; and (2) government correction increases trust for citizens experiencing the 2018 crisis as an isolated occurrence but not for those who experienced a similar crisis and correction in 2016.
Keywords: authoritarianism, China, crisis, credibility, information, participation
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