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Is social trust among the population in the West declining?

According to a Pew Research survey, young people tend to trust in others less. Italy has the highest rate of mistrust and Denmark the lowest.

FUENTES Pew Research AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus 13 DE ENERO DE 2021 12:52 h
Villa Borghese in Rome, Italy, the country with the highest rate of mistrust. / [link]Gabriella Clare Marino[/link], Unsplash CC0.

Social trust is losing ground among young populations in the West, according to a publication by the Pew Research Centre, based on the results of surveys carried out in 14 countries last summer.

“While an average of 62% of adults in these countries believe that most people can be trusted, there are significant differences in this view by age, education and other factors”, they say.

Among the countries surveyed, Denmark has the largest population (86%) who say that people can be trusted. It is followed by the Netherlands (74%), Sweden and Canada (71%), Australia (69%) and the UK (64%).

In contrast, Italy has the highest rate of mistrust (57%), followed by France (47%), Spain (46%), South Korea (42%) and Belgium (41%).

[photo_footer]   Source: Pew Research. [/photo_footer] 

Young people are more suspicious

According to the Pew Research publication, “the 18-29 year-old population tends to be more suspicious of people in general. In countries with higher levels of social trust there is a big difference between generational groups”.

While 90% of Danes over 50 believe they can trust other people, in the case of young people the same figure drops to 79%.

Sweden is the country with the greatest difference between population groups by age. There, 77% of the over-50s trust other people, but the percentage of young people drops to 53%. It is followed by Australia, with a 21 point difference between them.

In Italy, only 36% of young people under 29 believe they can trust other people, while for the over-50s the figure is 46%.

“In a few countries, young people are about as likely as those 50 and older to say most people can be trusted”, the authors of the survey stress.


Education and income affect trust

Differences in educational level and income also diminish or increase the level of trust.

The survey shows that 68% of those who have higher education say that the majority of people can be trusted. The percentage drops to 46% in those with an elementary level of education.

Of all the countries analysed, “Spain has the widest gap between groups of different educational levels, at 22 percentage points”.

In 12 of 14 countries, people with incomes at or below their national median are less likely than those with higher incomes to say most people can be trusted. The United States stands out with the largest gap at 25 percentage points, followed by Spain (22 points) and Belgium (16 points). In Australia the difference in its impact on the issue of confidence is just four points, followed by Japan (5) and South Korea (6).




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