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|Geneva, Switzerland, 15 December 2005 A global public opinion survey carried out for the World Economic Forum in 20 countries, interviewing more than 20,000 citizens, paints an alarming picture of declining levels of trust. The survey, carried out by GlobeScan, shows that trust in a range of institutions has dropped significantly since January 2004 to levels not seen since the months following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. The poll also reveals that public trust in national governments and the United Nations has fallen the most over the past two years.
Since signalling the importance of trust in world affairs by making it the theme of its Annual Meeting in 2003, the World Economic Forum has been monitoring public trust levels and today presents the most recent responses to a set of questions asked of representative samples of citizens around the world since January 2001. The research, conducted by GlobeScan Incorporated, shows that:
These findings are based on a global public opinion poll involving a total of 20,791 interviews with citizens across 20 countries (n=1,000 in most countries), conducted between June and August 2005 by respected research institutes in each participating country, under the leadership of GlobeScan. (A full list of participating institutes, with contact details, is available at: www.weforum.org.) Each countrys findings are considered accurate to within 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
NOTE: The 14 countries that were tracked are: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Spain, Turkey and the USA.
Declining trust in governments across the world
Of all the institutions examined, national governments have lost the most ground over the past two years. In 12 of the 16 countries for which data is available, public trust in the national government has declined by statistically significant margins, leaving only 6 of the tracking countries today with more citizens trusting their national government than distrusting them.
For complete results across all countries, please see the additional charts available on http://www.weforum.org/trustsurvey.
Changing patterns of trust in global companies
While trust in global companies has not fallen everywhere, statistically significant declines have occurred over the past two years in 10 of 17 countries for which tracking data is available, and the overall trust level for global companies is the lowest since tracking began. After global companies had rebounded in 2004 to pre-Enron trust levels, these latest findings will be discouraging for business leaders. Perhaps most worrying for corporate executives are the sharp drops in trust in Spain, the USA and Canada, where net trust in global companies has turned negative for the first time. Trust in global companies is strongest in China, Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia and India.
In commenting on the polls findings, Ged Davis, Managing Director, World Economic Forum, said: The Annual Meeting in Davos in January will be held under the theme The Creative Imperative and it is clear from these figures that to regain the trust of the general public in institutions and governments we must find new and effective ways to reconnect with citizens and tackle the public trust deficit. If not, the very institutions that govern our world will be increasingly under threat.
Doug Miller, President of GlobeScan, offered the following perspective: If Francis Fukuyama was right when he described trust as the necessary glue of any properly functioning society, then these poll results suggest were in danger of becoming unstuck especially when values-driven organizations like non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations are losing trust almost as quickly as large companies. Its time for all organizations to better understand how to earn the publics trust.
|Each national survey was based on a representative sample of about 1,000 adults and was conducted in-home or by telephone between June and August 2005 as part of the annual 20-nation GlobeScan Report on Issues and Reputation. Individual country findings are accurate within +/- 3%, with 95% confidence. Multi-country results were calculated using the one nation/one vote method.
Notes for Editors:
A fuller document detailing all the surveys findings is available at www.weforum.org/trustsurvey
For more details on the reports findings please contact Doug Miller, President of GlobeScan at doug.miller@GlobeScan.com
GlobeScan Incorporated (www.GlobeScan.com) with offices in Toronto, London and Washington DC, is a global public opinion and stakeholder research firm providing quantitative metrics and strategic counsel on key trends and emerging issues. More detailed coverage of the research presented in this release will be included in the December 2005 GlobeScan Report on Issues and Reputation, available by subscription.
The World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org) is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.