Government response measures and public trust during the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from around the world

Jia Liu, Yasir Shahab*, Hafiz Hoque

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examines public trust in government and public belief in its truthfulness in respect of the measures it takes to combat COVID-19. Analysing global data from the International Coronavirus Survey of 178 countries between 20th March and 8th April 2020, we establish that integrated government response policies, underpinned by containment health measures and economic reliefs, are crucial to winning public trust and support. We find that a one standard deviation increase in composite government response measures leads to a 0.353% increase in public trust in government and a 0.414% increase in public belief in its truthfulness. The impacts vary according to legal systems, whose political ethos determines the quality of welfare services and their ability to respond to citizens’ needs during a public health emergency. Further, public trust in government measures differ in relation to how a country’s system of governance and institutional culture respond to meet public expectations, with citizens’ attitudes influenced by the fairness, effectiveness, and accountability of government agencies. Most importantly, our evidence consistently demonstrates that the provision of impartial, transparent, and truthful government communications is vital for maintaining public trust. Moreover, experience gained from previous pandemics, reinforcing a nation’s preparedness and responsiveness to future public health crises, is crucial to ensuring citizens’ confidence in government competence. Overall, our original investigation reveals a contention between the exigencies of government policies and public expectations in a global health emergency, and has profound implications for public management and business and economic regeneration in the aftermath of the pandemic, laying the foundations for future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 9 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • institutionalism
  • legal system
  • national governance system
  • public management and organisation
  • public trust
  • social capital
  • social contract

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