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The Latest Data on Confidence in Institutions (2022)

by Josh Howarth
September 26, 2022

Institutional confidence is an intangible concept that can be difficult to measure.

However, ever-increasing quantitative data is making it easier to track and compare on a worldwide scale.

We’ll explore the statistics surrounding trust in various institutions, from both a US-centric and global viewpoint:

Stats for Confidence in Institutions (Top Picks)

Here are five curated statistics for confidence in institutions:

  • Just over half (52.5%) of Americans trust their government.
  • US citizens have the most confidence in the military.
  • Globally, the media is the least trusted institution.
  • Of 107 countries surveyed, Uzbekistanis are the most trusting of their government.
  • Lebanese citizens are the least trusting of their government.

Government Trust Over Time

Pew Research has gathered data on US government trust dating back to 1958. Looking closer at this data, public confidence in the government has largely been on the decline over the past 20 years. In fact, current figures are among the lowest in 70 years.

During that period, government trust was at its highest during Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency.

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The following is a deep dive into America's confidence in the government “to do what is right” at least “most of the time” since 1958.*

Month, Year

Government Trust

President

December, 1958

73%

Dwight D. Eisenhower

October, 1964

77%

Lyndon B. Johnson

December, 1966

65%

Lyndon B. Johnson

October, 1968

62%

Lyndon B. Johnson

November, 1970

54%

Richard Nixon

October, 1972

53%

Richard Nixon

December, 1974

36%

Gerald Ford

October, 1976

33%

Gerald Ford

December, 1978

29%

Jimmy Carter

October, 1980

25%

Jimmy Carter

December, 1982

33%

Ronald Reagan

October, 1984

44%

Ronald Reagan

November, 1986

49%

Ronald Reagan

October, 1988

41%

Ronald Reagan

September, 1990

42%

George H. W. Bush

October, 1992

22%

George H. W. Bush

October, 1994

22%

Bill Clinton

October, 1996

33%

Bill Clinton

October, 1998

26%

Bill Clinton

October, 2000

44%

Bill Clinton

October, 2002

55%

George W. Bush

October, 2004

46%

George W. Bush

October, 2006

29%

George W. Bush

October, 2008

17%

George W. Bush

October, 2010

22%

Barack Obama

October, 2012

22%

Barack Obama

July, 2014

14%

Barack Obama

October, 2015

19%

Barack Obama

April, 2017

20%

Donald Trump

March, 2019

17%

Donald Trump

April, 2021

24%

Joe Biden

*Data presented in 2-year intervals where possible.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental economic organisation consisting of 38 nations.

Data from the OECD shows the combined government trust from those member countries has fluctuated by 9.14% between 2010 and 2020.

The lowest trust figures (34.6%) came in 2013. While the highest was 45.74% in 2020.

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Here’s a closer look at how government confidence changed with each year during the 2010s:

Year

Trust in Government

Change Over Previous Year

2010

40.2%

-

2011

37.47%

↓ 2.55%

2012

35.76%

↓ 1.71%

2013

34.6%

↓ 1.16%

2014

37.3%

↑ 2.6%

2015

36.97%

↓ 0.33%

2016

35.64%

↓ 1.33%

2017

40.34%

↑ 4.7%

2018

38.25%

↓ 2.09%

2019

41.65%

↑ 3.4%

2020

45.74%

↑ 4.09%

And here’s a nation-by-nation comparison of government trust for selected OECD countries over the same period:

Year

Canada

France

Germany

Italy

Japan

Russia

UK

US

2010

55.1%

40.1%

39.5%

33.4%

27%

51.4%

50.4%

41.8%

2011

55.3%

37.5%

42.5%

26%

23.1%

48%

46.8%

38.3%

2012

52.3%

44.1%

51.7%

28.1%

16.9%

45.2%

42.1%

34.9%

2013

50.6%

39.5%

55.8%

14.6%

35.8%

38.8%

37.9%

28.9%

2014

51.7%

26.4%

60.1%

30.9%

38%

64%

42.3%

34.9%

2015

64.4%

32.8%

62.8%

26.1%

35.3%

64.9%

45.7%

34.7%

2016

61.8%

28.4%

55.3%

23.8%

36.2%

58.4%

40.9%

29.7%

2017

65.3%

37.5%

62.3%

23%

41.2%

55.7%

44%

38.7%

2018

61%

38.1%

59.3%

20.7%

38.5%

45.6%

42.1%

31.4%

2019

54.9%

38.2%

56.8%

22.2%

41.1%

43.7%

34.1%

36.3%

2020

60%

41%

65.4%

37.5%

42.3%

47.8%

34.7%

46.5%

10-Year Low

50.6%

26.4%

39.5%

14.6%

16.9%

38.8%

34.1%

28.9%

10-Year High

65.3%

44.1%

65.4%

37.5%

42.3%

64.9%

50.4%

41.8%

Fluctuation

14.7%

17.7%

25.9%

22.9%

25.4%

26.1%

16.3%

12.9%

The data shows an average fluctuation of 16.19% between 10-year lows and 10-year highs for confidence in respective governments.

Source: Pew Research, Data.OECD

Confidence in Governments

Given the vast geopolitical differences from nation to nation, it is no surprise that confidence in the people who run a country varies enormously around the world.

Our World is Data provides stats from 2020 of 107 countries and gathered data from over 140,000 respondents.

Participants were asked “how much do you trust your national government?” and given four options: a lot, some, not much, and not at all. The following data shows the percentage who responded either “a lot” or “some”.

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Here are the top 20 nations by the proportion of respondents who trust their respective governments:

Global Rank* Country Government Trust Region Regional Rank*
1 Uzbekistan 94.5% Asia 1
2 Norway 94.3% Europe 1
3 Switzerland 93.3% Europe 2
4 Myanmar 91.8% Asia 2
5 Tanzania 89.9% Africa 1
6 Cambodia 83.8% Asia 3
7 New Zealand 83.7% Oceania 1
8 Bangladesh 83% Asia 4
9 Philippines 82.9% Asia 5
10 Germany 82% Europe 3
11 Finland 80.7% Europe 4
12 Malta 80.3% Europe 5
13 Ireland 79.5% Europe 6
14 Denmark 79.3% Europe 7
=15 Netherlands 78.5% Europe 8
=15 El Salvador 78.5% North America 1
17 Ethiopia 78.1% Africa 2
18 Laos 76.4% Asia 6
19 Sri Lanka 76.3% Asia 7
20 Austria 73.4% Europe 9

A selection of other noteworthy international government trust statistics:

Global Rank* Country Government Trust Region Regional Rank*
22 Canada 72.6% North America 3
23 Egypt 72.2% Africa 3
27 Australia 69.5% Oceania 2
29 India 66% Asia 10
32 Indonesia 60.9% Asia 12
40 France 56.3% Europe 12
46 Turkey 54.9% Europe/Asia 16/17
49 Mexico 54.1% North America 5
52 South Korea 52.8% Asia 19
53 United States 52.5% North America 6
54 Italy 52.3% Europe 18
57 South Africa 50.9% Africa 11
60 Japan 49.5% Asia 21
63 Spain 48.2% Europe 20
66 United Kingdom 47.7% Europe 22
69 Russia 47% Europe/Asia 24/22
71 Iran 45.8% Asia 23
85 Brazil 40.6% South America 6

And here are the bottom 20:

Global Rank* Country Government Trust Region Regional Rank*
88 Hong Kong 40% Asia 24
89 Latvia 39.6% Europe 32
90 North Macedonia 37.2% Europe 33
91 Paraguay 34.4% South America 7
92 Iraq 34.3% Asia 25
93 Poland 33.6% Europe 34
94 Gabon 33.5% Africa 20
95 Venezuela 30.9% South America 8
96 Guinea 30.8% Africa 21
97 Ukraine 28% Europe 35
98 Chile 27.7% South America 9
99 Kosovo 26.3% Europe 36
100 Tunisia 26.1% Africa 22
101 Ecuador 25.8% South America 10
102 Cameroon 25.5% Africa 23
103 Bosnia and Herzegovina 24.8% Europe 37
104 Romania 24.3% Europe 38
105 Nigeria 23.1% Africa 24
106 Moldova 17.8% Europe 39
107 Lebanon 15.8% Asia 26

* Of 107 countries with available data

A smaller (36,000 respondents), but more recent Statista study from November 2021, highlighted several countries and their changing government trust:

Country Our World is Data 2020 Trust Statista 2020 Trust Statista 2021 Trust Change in Trust (Statista)
China - 82% 91% ↑ 9%
Saudi Arabia - 82% 82% -
India 66% 79% 74% ↓ 5%
Germany 82% 59% 47% ↓ 12%
United Kingdom 47.7% 45% 42% ↓ 3%
United States 52.5% 42% 39% ↓ 3%
Russia 47% 34% 37% ↑ 3%
Argentina 43.9% 30% 22% ↓ 8%

The discrepancies between two relatively large samples highlight how difficult it is to collect data of this nature. This is further emphasized during a tumultuous and fast-changing socio-economic landscape with the backdrop of a global pandemic.

Source: Our World in Data, Statista

Trust in American Institutions

Looking further afield, the military achieved the highest public confidence of 17 different US institutions with 69% having at least “quite a lot” of confidence in 2021.

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On the other end of the spectrum, Congress received a figure of just 12%. And over half of Americans (51%) claim to have “very little” to “no” confidence.

Here’s how each US institution compared in terms of public confidence in 2021:

Institution Great Deal Quite a Lot Some Very Little None No Opinion
Military 37% 32% 22% 9% - 1%
Science 35% 29% 24% 11% 1% -
Small Business 35% 35% 24% 7% - -
Police 26% 25% 32% 16% 1% -
Medical System 20% 24% 33% 21% 1% -
Organized Religion 19% 18% 34% 26% 3% 1%
Presidency 16% 22% 29% 29% 4% 1%
Supreme Court 13% 23% 42% 21% 1% -
Public Schools 13% 19% 39% 28% 1% -
Large Tech Companies 12% 17% 38% 30% 2% 1%
Organized Labor 12% 16% 46% 22% 1% 2%
Banks 12% 21% 42% 23% 1% 1%
Big Business 9% 9% 41% 38% 3% 1%
Newspapers 8% 13% 35% 39% 4% 1%
Criminal Justice 7% 13% 38% 39% 3% -
Television News 6% 10% 30% 48% 5% -
Congress 5% 7% 37% 47% 4% -

Split into demographics, it’s clear that background has an influence on institutional confidence.

Democrat voters and Republican voters often have opposing views and this is particularly true when it comes to confidence in the media. Over half of Democrats (55%) trust the US media, compared to around 1 in 4 (24%) of republicans.

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In fact, across the board, Republicans are less trusting of US institutions than democrats.

The table below compares democrat voters’ and republican voters’ trust in US institutions in 2021:

Institution Democrat Trust Republican Trust Difference
Media 55% 24% 31%
Business 55% 48% 7%
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) 57% 38% 19%
Government 53% 29% 24%
Average 55% 35% 20%

Overall, confidence in US institutions has remained relatively stable over the last 30 years, although there has been a steady recent decline.

As of 2021, 33% of US citizens have a “quite a lot” or “a great deal” of confidence in US institutions. That’s a fall of 10% from a 28-year high in 2003. And represents the 3rd lowest recorded result in that time.

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Here is the proportion of Americans who trust US institutions over time since 1993:

Year “Quite a Lot”/“Great Deal” of Confidence in Institutions Change Over Last Survey
1993 38% -
1995 39% ↑ 1%
1998 41% ↑ 2%
2001 43% ↑ 2%
2003 43% - 0%
2005 40% ↓ 3%
2007 32% ↓ 8%
2009 36% ↑ 4%
2011 35% ↓ 1%
2014 31% ↓ 4%
2017 35% ↑ 4%
2019 33% ↓ 2%
2020 36% ↑ 3%
2021 33% ↓ 3%

Source: Gallup, Edelman

International Trust in Institutions Over Time

As seen in US data, trust in key institutions can at times be volatile. In just a matter of months, public opinion can shift dramatically.

To explore this further, here is a comparison between pre-pandemic 2017 and 2019 data on institutional trust collected for several European countries:

Trust in Military* Trust in Parliament Trust in Media**
Country 2017 2019 Change 2017 2019 Change 2017 2019 Change
Sweden 77% 75% ↓ 2% 71% 72% ↑ 1% 64% 56% ↓ 8%
Netherlands 71% 78% ↑ 7% 68% 64% ↓ 4% 67% 60% ↓ 7%
Germany 70% 69% ↓ 1% 55% 48% ↓ 7% 64% 47% ↓ 17%
UK 82% 80% ↓ 2% 54% 19% ↓ 35% 32% 21% ↓ 11%
France 84% 82% ↓ 2% 33% 27% ↓ 6% 35% 28% ↓ 7%
Italy 82% 65% ↓ 17% 16% 31% ↑ 15% 29% 37% ↑ 8%
Spain 66% 72% ↑ 6% 16% 24% ↑ 8% 31% 33% ↑ 2%

*2017 data for “military”, 2019 data for the “army”.
**2017 data for the “news media”, 2019 data for “media”.

Of the seven nations compared, three (Germany, the UK, and France) saw confidence drop across the board.

While Spain was the only nation to see trust in each measured institution increase.

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Media saw the largest change in public trust between 2017 (an average of 46%) and 2019 (an average of 40.3%), dropping 5.7%.

This was closely followed by trust in parliament, which fell from an average of 44.7% in 2017 to 40.7% in 2019 - a decline of 4%.

Trust in the military also declined but not as severely, from a 2017 average of 76% to 74.4% - a fall of 1.6%.

Here’s how averages from the data above compare:

Country Average Institutional Trust 2017 Average Institutional Trust 2019 Average Trust Change
Sweden 70.7% 67.7% ↓ 3%
Netherlands 68.7% 67.3% ↓ 1.4%
Germany 63% 54.7% ↓ 8.3%
UK 56% 40% ↓ 16%
France 50.7% 45.7% ↓ 5%
Italy 42.3% 44.3% ↑ 2%
Spain 37.7% 43% ↑ 5.3%
Europe* 55.6% 51.8% ↓ 3.8%

*Includes only listed countries.

Looking specifically at trust in individual institutions, 2020 statistics corroborate the data above with the media and governments ranking among the least trusted institutions.

In fact, “press/media” was the only one of 10 institutions that scored a negative average trust score of -3.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the “medical profession” scored the highest average trust score with 80.

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Here is the full list of institutions ranked by trust score based on data from 17 countries:

Institution Net Trust Score
Medical Profession 80
Science/Academic Institutions 72
NGOs 40
Fellow Citizens 34
Large Charitable Foundations 32
United Nations 28
National Companies 24
National Government 15
Global Companies 8
Press/Media -3

According to Edelman’s 2022 report, almost half of 36,000+ respondents view the government (48%) and media (46%) as “divisive forces in society”.

The report also shines a light on the mistrust of news outlets. Trust in search engines sits at 59%, ahead of traditional media at 57%. Owned media is trusted by just 43% of the public. While social media is a trusted news outlet for 37% of people.

And concerns over “fake news” are perhaps unsurprisingly at an all-time high of 76%.

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The report suggests that businesses are among the most trusted institutions.

But this is not necessarily the case on a global level.

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In fact, the difference between business trust in some of the top nations by GDP is stark:

Country Trust in Business GDP Rank
China 84% #2
India 79% #5
Brazil 64% #8
Canada 54% #10
US 49% #1
UK 49% #6
South Korea 43% #12
Russia 34% #11

Source: Pew Research, European Commission, GlobeScan, Edelman, Statista

Determinants of Trust in Institutions

Distrust has become the default for many, with around 60% of people refusing to trust something until they are presented with evidence to do so.

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A 2019 paper found that trust in institutions significantly declines in nations that employ fiscal adjustment programs. Conversely, institutional trust is notably strengthened following credit rating upgrades.

Socio-economic and geopolitical factors naturally influence trust in institutions. And one such unignorable incident is the COVID-19 pandemic which has been associated with an increase in trust in scientists.

Figures show a rise of 9% from 34% in 2018 to 43% in 2020 in people who trust scientists “a lot”. These improved levels of trust were most prominent among respondents who claimed to know “some” to “not much/nothing at all” about science.

Source: Edelman, Drakos, Kallandranis, and Karidis,

Conclusion

Predicting institutional confidence is a minefield influenced by innumerable ever-changing global and cultural factors.

Nonetheless, there appears to be a global trend towards distrust of many institutions, with media in particular seemingly leading the way.

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