Why do some countries fail to immunize their populations? Why, despite their natural reluctance to pay taxes, do people pay taxes? What can improve immunization rate and tax compliance attitudes? The conventional response to these questions points to failures of state capacity, the inability of bureaucracies to carry out policy and collect taxation. I argue that to fully understand policy outcomes and compliance attitudes, we need to look beyond the characteristics of the state itself and consider the roles that societal attitudes, and specifically trust, play in governance. I further argue, regarding policies where the state and society share the same interest, such as vaccination, then political trust, both trust in representational institutions (parliament, party, government) and trust in implementing institutions (court, police, civil service, and agencies) should be most important. But for policies where the interests of state and society have a fundamental tension, such as taxation, the development of democratic institutions shapes the role of generalized trust (toward unknown or out-group people) in tax compliance attitudes. I find that trust in implementing institutions has the most considerable effect on vaccination coverage and that people who trust in others are less willing to pay taxes in less democratic countries. By demonstrating the role of trust in policy outcomes and compliance attitudes, my research implies that improving the quality of bureaucracy, and the accountability as well as inclusiveness of political institutions, will prepare governments for governance challenges like future pandemics and climate change.
Political scientist,
interested in and curious about understanding society from big data and Non-traditional data.

Yuehong Cassandra Tai