Friday, 20 December 2013

Trust in Government: Causes, consequences and solutions

This blog post on trust in governments is a compilation of presentations given at the OECD Workshop entitled "Joint Learning for an OECD Trust Strategy", held on 14 October 2013. The post, composed by Melinda Deleuze, is part of Wikiprogress' December spotlight on governance.

During the workshop, a variety of topics were discussed regarding trust in governments. Some common themes were why measuring trust is important, how to measure trust, the reflection of trust in governments on quality of governments, the crisis' impact on trust and reasons for lack of trust.

To give some highlights:

  • Trust in government is intermingled with many other areas, namely:
    • policy effectiveness
    • economic policy
    • the economy
    • the economic crisis
    • compliance
    • accountability
    • regulation
    • education
    • social capital
  • After the crisis, in Iceland, trust in institutions remained relatively high, trust in politicians very low, and voter turnout relatively high.
  • To strengthen the quality of government, there should be:
    • free universal education
    • universal social services/insurance systems
    • fairness (impartiality) in the implementation of public policies
    • merit-based recruitment and promotion to the civil service
    • gender equality
  •  Unemployment has a strong, negative effect on trust in public institutions. 

In the presentation below, Yann Algan discusses the relationships between institutions, inequality/segmentation and trust. He also examines how to identify impact of policy on trust.

In the presentation below, Tracy Burns discusses trends in governance and education, satisfaction with the education system, accountability, and positive outcomes possible with educated adults.


In the presentation below,  Diane Coyle discusses how trust affects the economy and the challenges faced.

In the presentation below, Dóra Györffy discusses trust in-depth including its relationship with decision-making, economic policy, popularity of government and its influence on the crisis.

In the presentation below, Pall Thorhallsson discusses the pre-crash situation, the nature of the 2008 crash, and the crash's impact on trust. He also mentions reasons for the lacking trust.


In the presentation below, Marco Mira d’Ercole discusses the interest and importance of trust, how trust should be measured and trust's broader relationship with the quality of democratic institutions.


In the presentation below, Felix Roth discusses the consequences of citizens declining trust and the driving factors of declining trust in Europe. He also provides an econometric analysis of trust and unemployment.

In the presentation below,  Bo Rothstein discusses how to capture the quality of government and its impact on social trust. He also provides suggestions for what can be done to strengthen quality of government.

In the presentation below, Frédérique Six discusses effective regulation, the trust triangle, compliance and a trust regime.

In the presentation below,  Mario Solis-Garcia discusses why trust matters and uses a simple economic model to see how government trust influences environment, government, households and timing.




  1. See:
    Where O'Neil argues that it is not trust but trustworthiness that is the issue. So is it better to be measuring trustworthiness rather than trust?

  2. Thanks for your comment, Adrian. We agree, but it is very difficult to measure the trustworthiness of a person, given that you cannot simply ask them how trustworthy they are. Also, survey questions on whether respondents trust others (e.g. strangers; bankers; governments) tells us something on the trustworthiness of all these agents as perceived by the person being asked.