Comparing food contamination and air pollution: how do social trust and different levels governments efficacy influence the public risk perceptions of the two risks differently in China?

Authors: Li Wang*, King's College London, David Demeritt, King's College London
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, China, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Risk perceptions, food contamination, air pollution, China
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Forum Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Public risk perceptions are a key to conduct effective risk communication, and the perception of food contamination and that of air pollution have increasingly been crucial issues in research. Employing the national data acquired from the Chinese General Social Survey programme, we mainly probe how social trust, the belief in central government efficacy and the belief in local government efficacy influence the public risk perceptions of the two risks, aiming to find different features of food contamination risk from air pollution risk. It is concluded that while the three elements can contribute to the estimation of both food contamination risk perception and air pollution risk perception, their influence degrees are asymmetric: the belief in central government efficacy plays the most important role in explaining both risk perceptions; social trust contributes more than the belief in local government efficacy to the prediction of the risk perception of food contamination; the belief in local government efficacy exerts more influence than social trust on the risk perception of air pollution. The variety of the influences of the latter two variables may lie in the distinctions of the risk attributes: food contamination involves higher difficulty for people to conduct a risk assessment than air pollution and therefore it depends on more general social trust to form risk attitudes; food contamination is also of higher transregionalness than air pollution, and hence local government would be viewed with less impact on risk reduction.

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