Where there is trust, there is testing

In the US, levels of Covid-19 testing have varied greatly between states. But there seems to be a pattern. According to a new study by Malcolm Fairbrother, researcher at Institute for Futures Studies, together with colleagues, states with high levels of social trust and social capital performs more Covid-19 tests.  

The authors write:

"In Making Democracy Work, Robert Putnam and his coauthors (1993) argued that local government performs better when there are higher levels of generalised trust and strong civic norms. Social capital and trust increase political sophistication and promote spontaneous cooperation within society. States with higher trust and social capital are in a better position to be able to mobilize resources and foster collective actions. In fact, the linkage between social capital, trust, and the quality of government at the state-level has been widely demonstrated empirically."

So were states with relatively higher levels of social trust and social capital able to better mobilize resources and foster collective actions in response to the pandemic, than states with relatively less? Yes, says the authors.   

"The results clearly show that both social capital and social trust levels positively predict the quality of response to COVID-19 outbreak. States that have higher levels of social capital tend to have higher testing rates (r=0.49) and states with more trust also have higher testing rates (r=0.33). The pattern holds, irrespective of Republican or Democratic state governance. Additional tests (not shown) find that this effect also holds when we control for state-level median household income, income inequality (GINI index), and/or racial diversity." 

The study “Social Capital, Trust, and State Coronavirus Testing” is published in Contexts and were performed by Cary Wu, Assistant Professor of Sociology at York University, Rima Wilkes Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, Malcolm Fairbrother, Professor of Sociology at Umeå University and Giuseppe Giordano Associate Professor of Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology at Lund University.