Social Indicators Research

, Volume 132, Issue 2, pp 925–947 | Cite as

Education and Life Satisfaction in Relation to the Probability of Social Trust: a Conceptual Framework and Empirical Analysis

  • Luca ZaninEmail author


We employ cross-sectional microdata from 2010 through 2012 collected by the Italian National Institute of Statistics to investigate the proposed conceptual framework regarding the joint relationship between education, life satisfaction and the probability of social trust. The analysis has been carried out using two alternative specifications of the logit model: parametric and semiparametric. Our findings suggest that (a) both modelling methods that we utilise yield consistent results in terms of the positive effects of education and life satisfaction on social trust; (b) for unsatisfied individuals, social trust is generally low and largely unresponsive to the individual’s education level, whereas for ‘sufficiently satisfied’ individuals, social trust increases strongly with education; (c) there are some gender differences in the joint relationship between education, life satisfaction and social trust and (d) the parametric approach tends to mask some interesting patterns that are captured by the semiparametric specification. This finding implies that the parametric approach leads to a biased interpretation of the results, with an apparent failure of some of the assumptions made in the conceptual framework.


Generalised additive model Generalised linear model Education Life satisfaction Social trust 

JEL Classification

C25 D01 I20 I30 



We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for many suggestions that have helped to improve the presentation and quality of the article. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect those of the institution of affiliation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PrometeiaBolognaItaly

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