Political Trust, Mental Health, and the Coronavirus Pandemic: A Cross-National Study

Kyung Won Choi, Jong Hyun Jung, Harris Hyun soo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: We investigate whether older adults who place greater trust in their political leadership fare better in terms of mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also test if and how the trust-wellbeing relationship varies across individual- and country-level moderators. Methods: Based on cross-national data consisting of over 13,000 older adults in 66 countries, we estimate a series of multilevel models. Results: Within countries, political trust is significantly negatively associated with depressive symptoms. And this association is stronger for those who are subjectively less healthy. Between countries, the trust-depression link at the individual level is stronger in more “fragile” states. These findings are robust to a host of confounders including the experienced level of anxiety stemming from COVID-19. Discussion: During the novel coronavirus pandemic, political trust provides a significant mental health buffer for older adults. This protective role varies partly as a function of individual and contextual vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-148
Number of pages16
JournalResearch on Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • COVID-19
  • depression
  • mental health
  • political trust
  • state fragility


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