The evolution of trust in public institutions in OECD countries has experienced various trends and patterns over time. While it is challenging to provide a comprehensive analysis for all countries within the OECD, some general observations can be made.
- Declining Trust: In recent decades, many OECD countries have witnessed a decline in trust towards public institutions. This decline can be attributed to factors such as political scandals, economic downturns, and perceptions of corruption. The financial crisis of 2008, for example, eroded trust in financial institutions and governments’ ability to manage the economy.
- Political Polarization: Increasing political polarization has also had an impact on trust in public institutions. As political parties and ideologies become more divided, citizens tend to trust institutions aligned with their own views while distrusting those associated with opposing ideologies. This phenomenon can lead to a fragmentation of trust across different institutions.
- Technological Advancements: The advent of the internet and social media has both positive and negative implications for trust in public institutions. On the one hand, access to information has empowered citizens to scrutinize and hold institutions accountable. On the other hand, the spread of misinformation and fake news has eroded trust in traditional sources of information, including government institutions.
- Perceptions of Corruption: Perceived corruption within public institutions has been a significant factor in declining trust. Instances of high-profile corruption scandals involving public officials have damaged trust in governments and public administrations. Efforts to enhance transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption measures have become crucial to rebuild trust.
- Crisis and Trust: The way public institutions handle crises significantly impacts trust. During times of natural disasters, public health emergencies, or terrorist attacks, the response of institutions and the effectiveness of crisis management can influence trust levels. Successful crisis management can bolster trust, while mishandling or inadequate responses can further erode it. 6. Building Trust: Several OECD countries have recognized the importance of rebuilding trust in public institutions. Governments have taken measures such as promoting transparency, strengthening ethics and integrity frameworks, engaging citizens in decision-making processes, and improving service delivery. These initiatives aim to enhance accountability and restore faith in public institutions.
Trust in public institutions has been going down recently in OECD countries. The percentage of the population reporting confidence in national government went down every year from 2009-2013. This visualization shows the OECD-average estimate of trust in governments over the period 2006-2014, using Gallup’s data.