09 May 2011

Trust Declining

The General Social Survey has documented a great decline in support for the proposition that you can generally trust people. In 1984, equal numbers agreed and disagreed with that statement. In 2010, there was a thirty percentage point gap, with those who felt that you couldn't trust people outnumbering those who felt that you could by about 62% to 32%. It is a long term trend, with minor bumps along the way, whose causes aren't manifestly obvious.

Indeed, it is counter to what you would expect in some respects. For example, having more education is strongly tied to having more trust in others. But, the decline in trust has taken place despite modestly rising education levels in that time period.


Michael Malak said...

The watershed moment was when Clinton perjured himself.

He wasn't the first president to lie nor will he be the last.

And society would have degenerated into lies and mistrust anyway regardless of that one incident.

But it is a singular incident that can be pointed to where trust by and large existed prior to it, and by and large did not exist after it. Kind of like how the "innocence" (as far as it went) of the 50's gave way to the "decadence" and "loss of innocence" of the 60's at the point of the JFK assassination.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Far too late in time to capture the trend.