Open Access Peer-reviewed Research Article

The role of social trust in public participation in environmental governance: Empirical evidence from households in China

Main Article Content

Xiaoping He corresponding author


This paper explored the role of social trust in public participating in environmental governance, by examining household decisions making on paying for the environment. The data was collected from World Values Survey which was conducted on over 1,900 residents in China. Individual’s trust profile was identified by applying the Latent Class Analysis (LCA) approach, respectively in interpersonal trust and institutional trust dimensions. The resulted posterior probabilities of trust classes obtained from LCA were used as predictors for household's payment decisions. The results show that in contemporary Chinese societies, "extended family trust” dominates in the interpersonal dimension, while "political trust" prevails in the institutional dimension. Social trust exerts positive impacts household’s willingness to pay for the environments, while the positive effects vary with trust patterns and payment patterns (donation pattern and tax pattern). Overall, interpersonal trust exerts weaker effect than institutional trust; the positive effect of trust is weaker in the tax pattern of paying than in the donation pattern of paying. The article concluded that generalized trust in institution is critical for improving civic participation in environmental governance.

household decision, environmental governance, social capital, willingness to pay

Article Details

How to Cite
He, X. (2020). The role of social trust in public participation in environmental governance: Empirical evidence from households in China. Resources and Environmental Economics, 2(2), 191-206.


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