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Trust and Public Policy

How Better Governance Can Help Rebuild Public Trust

image of Trust and Public Policy

Trust plays a very tangible role in the effectiveness of government. Few perceptions are more palpable than that of trust or its absence. Governments ignore this at their peril. Yet, public trust has been eroding just when policy makers need it most, given persistent unemployment, rising inequality and a variety of global pressures. This report examines the influence of trust on policy making and explores some of the steps governments can take to strengthen public trust.

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Executive summary

International surveys agree that the level of trust in government has declined since the crisis (down to 43% in 2015 according to the Gallup World Poll). Trust in political parties and in parliaments has also fallen to around 50% according to Eurobarometer/European Social Survey. The Edelman Barometer 2016 finds a widening disparity between levels of trust in public institutions according to income, with high-income persons reporting a higher degree of trust in government (on average 10% higher). Trust in financial institutions decreased by an average of 9 percentage points in OECD countries between 2007 and 2015.

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