From Social Trust and Happiness to Government Trust: The Moderating Role of Political Systems and Governance in the Philippines

Erickson D Calata(1*), Reginald G. Ugaddan(2)

(1) Polytechnic University of the Philippines
(2) Research Center for Public Human Resource Development, Sungkyunkwan University, Korea
(*) Corresponding Author


There are frequent calls to enhance citizens' trust in government to pave the way towards a new paradigm of participatory governance and strong citizen support for government. In various realms, citizens may directly or indirectly engage with the government through various available mediums, even though, despite the availability of various policies and services provided by the government, citizens are generally passive and adamant in trusting the public sector. While many studies have explored a set of determinants that influence citizens' trust in government (i.e., central government, local government, parliament, and the legal system), few studies have ascertained the relationship and the role of social trust, happiness, governance, and political systems. These are critical factors that may influence trust in government. To address this gap, this study draws on the theoretical lens of social capital theory, proposing that cognitive social trust and citizen happiness—environment and performance—are the most likely predictors of citizen trust in government. This study assumes that citizens' perceptions of governance and political systems will moderate the effect of social trust and happiness on trust in government. Using data from the Asia Barometer Survey 2007, and focusing on data collected from the Philippines, this study tests a latent model employing the structural equation modelling technique. It finds that happiness negatively predicts trust in the central government and the legal system, while all other predictors do not have a significant effect. The findings also show that the political system moderates the impact of social trust and happiness on trust in government. Finally, this article points out its theoretical, empirical, and practical implications and provides directions for future research.


social capital; happiness; government trust; political system; governance

Full Text:



Abascal, M., & Baldassarri, D. (2015) Love thy neighbor? Ethnoracial diversity and trust reexamined. American Journal of Sociology, 121 (3), 722-782

Arthaud-day, M.L., Rode, J.C., Mooney, C.H. & Near, J.P. (2005) The subjective well-being construct: A test of its convergent, discriminant, and factorial validity. Social Indicators Research, 74 (3), 445–476.

Ba, S., & Pavlou, P.A. (2002). Evidence of the effect of trust building technology in electronic markets: price premiums and buyer behavior. MIS Quarterly, 243–268.

Brehm, J., & Rahn, W. (1997). Individual-level evidence for the causes and consequences of social capital. American Journal of Political Science, 999-1023.

Byrne, B.M. (2001). Structural equation modeling with AMOS, EQS, and LISREL: comparative approaches to testing for the factorial validity of a measuring instrument. International Journal of Testing, 1(1), 55–86.

Chanley, V. A., Rudolph, T. J., & Rahn, W. M. (2000). The origins and consequences of public trust in government: A time series analysis. Public Opinion Quarterly, 64(3), 239–256.

Citrin, J. (1974) Comment: The political relevance of trust in government. American Political Science Review, 68 (3), 973-988.

Cohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S.G., & Aiken, L.S. (2013). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. London: Routledge.

Dempster, A.P., Laird, N.M., & Rubin, D.B. (1977). Maximum likelihood from incomplete data via the EM algorithm. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series B (methodological), 1–38.

Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. (2004). Beyond money: toward an economy of well-being. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 5(1), 1–31.

Dinesen, P. T., & Sønderskov, K. M. (2018). Ethnic diversity and social trust: a critical review of the literature and suggestions for a research agenda. In E. Uslaner. (ed.) The Oxford handbook on social and political trust (pp. 175-204). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Duncan, G. (2013). Should happiness-maximization be the goal of government?. In D. Fave, & Antonella (Eds.), The exploration of happiness present and future perspectives (pp. 303–320). Springer Netherlands.

Easton, D. (1953). The political system (pp. 266–306). New York: Knopf.

Easton, D. (1957). An approach to the analysis of political systems. World Politics, 9 (03), 383–400.

Easton, D. (1965). A framework for political analysis. (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965). Pp. xvi, 143

Gallup. (n.d). Trust in Government. Retrieved from

Gamson, W. A. (1968). Power and discontent (Vol. 124). Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press.

Gold, M. S., & Bentler, P. M. (2000). Treatments of missing data: A Monte Carlo comparison of RBHDI, iterative stochastic regression imputation, and expectation-maximization. Structural Equation Modeling, 7(3), 319–355.

Hardin, R. (2006) Trust. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Helliwell, J. F., & Putnam, R. D. (2004). The social context of well-being. Philosophical Transactions-Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 359 (1449),1435–1446.

Heslop, L.A. (2014). On sacred ground: the political performance of religious responsibility. Contemporary South Asia, 22(1), 21–36.

Hox, J. J., Maas, C. J., & Brinkhuis, M. J. (2010). The effect of estimation method and sample size in multilevel structural equation modeling. Statistica Neerlandica, 64(2), 157–170.

Hufty, M. (2011). Investigating policy processes: The governance analytical framework (GAF). In U. Wiesmann, H. Hurni. (Eds.) Research for sustainable development: Foundations, experiences, and perspectives (pp. 403–424). Bern: Geographica Bernensia.

Keele, L. (2007). Social capital and the dynamics of trust in government. American Journal of Political Science, 51(2), 241–254.

Kelly, G., Mulgan, G., & Muers, S. (2002). Creating public value: an analytical framework for public service reform. London: Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office.

Kim, S. (2010). Public trust in government in Japan and South Korea: Does the rise of critical citizens matter? Public Administration Review, 70(5), 801–810.

Kline, R.B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford

Levi, M. (1998). A state of trust. Trust and Governance, 1, 77–101.

Mawis, S.M.D. (2018, July 28). Understanding the ‘Build, Build, Build' program. Retrieved from

OECD. (2013). Government at a Glance 2013. OECD. Paris

Palatino, M. (2016, May 12). The many surprises of the 2016 Philippines elections. The Diplomat. Retrieved from

Petrou, S., & Kupek, E. (2008). Social capital and its relationship with measures of health status: evidence from the Health Survey for England 2003. Health Economics, 17(1), 127-143.

Public trust in Duterte falls to new low in 2nd quarter – SWS. (2018, September 8). Retrieved from

Putnam, R.D. (1993). The prosperous community: social capital and public life. The American Prospect, 13.

Putnam, R.D. (2000). Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Putnam, R. D. (2001). Social capital: measurement and consequences. Canadian Journal of Policy Research, 2(1), 41–51.

Putnam, R. D. (2007). E pluribus unum: Diversity and community in the twenty-first century the 2006 johan skytte prize lecture. Scandinavian Political Studies, 30 (2), 137-174.

Romero, A, (2018, September 4). Duterte denies there is rice shortage in Philippines. The Philippine Star. Retrieved from

Rothstein, B. (2003). Social capital, economic growth and quality of government: The causal mechanism. New Political Economy, 8 (1), 49-71.

Roth, P.L. (1994). Missing data: A conceptual review for applied psychologists. Personnel Psychology, 47, 537–570.

Scholz, J.T., & Lubell, M. (1998). Adaptive political attitudes: Duty, trust, and fear as monitors of tax policy. American Journal of Political Science, 42 (3), 903-920

Şimşek, Ö.F. (2011). An intentional model of emotional well-being: the development and initial validation of a measure of subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(3), 421–442.

Talabong, R. (2018, June 15). At least 33 killed daily in the Philippines since Duterte assumed office. Rappler. Retrieved from

The Asia Barometer Survey Data (2007). Retrieved June 16, 2014 from.

Tokuda, Y., Fujii, S., & Inoguchi, T. (2010). Individual and country-level effects of social trust on happiness: the Asia Barometer Survey. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(10), 2574–2593.

Ugaddan, R. & Calata, E. (2018). Trust in government in democratic spaces: An empirical
analysis of policy feedback in the Philippines. International Journal for Policy Studies, 9 (1), 25-43.

Uslaner, E. M. (2002). The moral foundation of trust. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Article Metrics

Abstract views : 3199 | views : 2016


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 PCD Journal

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

analytics View My Stats

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.




                                © Faculty of Social and Political Sciences Gadjah Mada University Jl. Sosio-Yustisia Bulaksumur Yogyakarta 55281
                                                     Telp (0274) 563362 Ext. 150; +62 811 2515 863 - email: