Trust reflects an individual's expectations of other people's behaviour and is an essential part of social capital, explained Anna Mironova in her paper 'Trust as a Factor of Individual Subjective Well-being'.
High levels of trust in society make it easier for people to interact and boost economic efficiency, she said. Trust also, indirectly, reflects how comfortable and satisfied people feel in society. A trusting attitude towards the world influences our perception of reality and serves as an indicator of confidence in the future.
Russian society has a short radius of trust and, as a consequence, low social capital. This crisis of trust hinders socio-economic and political development, but the question of how it affects individual well-being remains open.
Mironova studied the relationship between trust and subjective well-being, using empirical data of Values Research in Russia's North Caucasus and Central Federal Districts. More than two thousand respondents completed a questionnaire designed to assess the level of trust in society.
The findings reveal a generally low level of trust in these two regions; the majority of respondents are suspicious of other people, and about half do not generally regard people as trustworthy. At the same time, the level of social trust towards neighbours and colleagues is fairly high, while only a minority of respondents share a feeling of ‘institutional trust’ in federal and regional government.
Mironova’s research results showed a statistical significance in the relationship between subjective well-being and the level of trust. Social trust has a greater impact on life satisfaction than institutional trust – perhaps due to more frequent everyday interactions with neighbours and colleagues than with government institutions.
Mironova concludes that the crisis of trust in Russian society prevents people from enjoying their lives to the full, and the government should adopt policies to improve individual well-being and to create social capital through building trust in society.