The trust gap between the informed public and the mass population globally has widened to a record high level, while the divide is fourth highest in India among all major countries, a new survey has found.
As per the latest yearly Edelman Trust Barometer released here ahead of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting beginning tomorrow, the US presents the largest trust divide, followed by the UK, France and India.
The study said that the global trust disparity between the informed public and mass population has risen to a record high level of 12 points, driven by income inequality and divergent expectations of the future.
“While trust levels among informed publics are the highest ever in 16 years, trust is below 50 per cent for the mass population in over 60 per cent of the countries surveyed, having barely moved since the Great Recession.
“The trust disparity has widened and is now at double digit levels in more than half of the countries surveyed,” it added.
Released by the global PR giant Edelman every year ahead of the annual WEF meeting, the Trust Barometer study forms part of various discussions at the five-day annual jamboree of the rich and powerful from across the world in this Alpine ski resort town of Switzerland.
“We are now observing the inequality of trust around the world,” Edelman President and CEO Richard Edelman said.
“This brings a number of potential consequences including the rise of populist politicians, the blocking of innovation and the onset of protectionism and nativism,” he added.
Stating that the widening gulf is directly linked to income inequality, the survey showed that a double-digit trust gap between high-income and low-income respondents is present in nearly two-thirds of the countries, with the US, France and Brazil exhibiting the largest disparities.
There are also diminished future expectations among the mass population. In more than two-thirds of the nations surveyed, less than half of the respondents said they will be better off in five years’ time.
The Barometer also showed that respondents are increasingly reliant on a ‘person like yourself’, who, along with a regular employee, are significantly more trusted than a CEO or government official.
On social networking and content-sharing sites, respondents are far more trusting of family and friends (78 per cent) than a CEO (49 per cent).
“We must get beyond ‘The Grand Illusion’ that the mass will continue to follow the elites,” Edelman said.
Despite the general population’s skepticism of business, it has the best opportunity to bridge the trust chasm, the survey showed.
Overall, respondents view business (61 per cent) as the institution most trusted to keep pace with rapid change, far more than they do government (41 per cent) and NGOs (55 per cent).
Business is also significantly more trusted than government in 21 of 28 countries, with large gaps in countries such as South Africa, Mexico and the US.