In-group trust and self-rated health in East Asia using quadri-national survey data

Pildoo Sung*, Joonmo Son

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to examine the relationship between types of interpersonal trust and health in East Asia. We doubt that generalized trust toward “most people” is a valid and reliable measure of interpersonal trust in East Asia. We thus employ specific measures of in-group and out-group trust to test whether and how each type of trust is associated with self-rated health. We use data from the 2012 East Asian Social Survey administered in China (n = 5819), Japan (n = 2335), South Korea (n = 1396), and Taiwan (n = 2314) with response rates of 71%, 59%, 56%, and 52%, respectively. Empirical test produces three major findings. First, in-group trust is consistently associated with self-rated health in all four countries, whereas out-group trust is related to health only in Taiwan. By contrast, generalized trust is related to health only in Korea. Second, perceived social support mediates partially of the relationship between in-group trust and self-rated health in China, Japan, and Taiwan. Third, the health benefit of in-group trust is more pronounced in Korea than in China. This study thus calls for the need to use measures of specific types of trust because they are more sensitive in detecting both international and intra-regional variations of health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-58
Number of pages32
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • East Asia
  • generalized trust
  • in-group trust
  • out-group trust
  • self-rated health


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