August 18, 2016

Can most people be trusted?

Trust in other people is important in any society. The degree to which people trust each other contributes to their well-being and to the economy of a country. In a new publication, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser show that the degree to which people trust others differs strongly in different countries. In countries like Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden, and China there is much trust; in countries like The Philippines, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana and Romania there is little.
 

Trust is associated with the economy

The figure below shows that there is a strong association between GDP and trust. The authors refer to literature which suggests that there is a causal relation between trust and economic outcomes. Having said this, it must be emphasized that this correlation is anything but perfect. See for example the remarkable difference between the countries The Netherlands (high), Germany (average), and France (low); three countries with nearly identical GDPs.

Trust-vs-GDP-per-capita-768x706  

Trends in trust

In the article there are several graphs which you, as a reader, can tailorize. An example is the graph below which shows some trends in trust in a number of countries. It shows that while trust is very stable in some countries, there may be great shifts in other countries.

 

Economic inequality

One factor which also correlates with trust is economic inequality. The following graph shows that more economic equality goes together with more interpersonal trust.
   

Educational level and trust

Another finding is that across countries there is a strong association between educational level and trust. Higher educated people generally report more trust in other people. Yet another finding is that in countries in which trust is higher, there is less violence and more political stability and accountability.   

Trust in government, legal system and police

The graph below show the level of trust of citizens in OECD countries in their government, legal system and police. The trend is that trust in police is higher that in the legal system, which is higher that trust in government.

   OECD2015_TrustInstitutions-768x387 


Go to the article for more details.

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