Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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HomeNewsCaribbean NewsGovernments must better engage all citizens to tackle growing gaps in trust

Governments must better engage all citizens to tackle growing gaps in trust

PARIS, France – In an increasingly challenging environment – marked by successive economic shocks, rising protectionism, the war in Europe and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, as well as structural challenges and disruptions caused by rapid technological developments, climate change and population aging – 44 percent of respondents now have low or no trust in their national government, surpassing the 39 percent of respondents who express high or moderately high trust in national government, according to a new OECD report.

OECD Survey on Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions – 2024 Results, presents findings from the second OECD Trust Survey, conducted in October and November 2023 across 30 member countries. The biennial report offers a comprehensive analysis of current trust levels and their drivers across countries and public institutions.

This edition of the Trust Survey confirms the previous finding that socio-economic and demographic factors, as well as a sense of having a say in decision making, affect trust. For example, 36 percent of women reported high or moderately high trust in government, compared to 43 percent of men. The most significant drop in trust since 2021 is seen among women and those with lower levels of education. The trust gap is largest between those who feel they have a say and those who feel they do not have a say in what the government does. Among those who report they have a say, 69 percent report high or moderately high trust in their national government, whereas among those who feel they do not only 22 percent do.

“As part of the OECD’s Reinforcing Democracy Initiative, the Trust Survey, aims to help governments identify the challenges and trends in relation to trust in government while providing concrete evidence-based recommendations and examples of good international practices that help to strengthen trust in public institutions and strengthen democracy,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said at the report’s launch. “The results of this latest edition of our Trust Survey shows citizens’ want a greater voice in decision making – to ensure it is fair, evidence-based, accountable, and clearly communicated.

Ensuring citizen engagement is meaningful and inclusive, supporting open information and transparent communications, fostering information integrity and transparency standards in policymaking processes, and reliable and fair public services, will help enhance the democratic process, and ultimately, strengthen trust in government.”

While results vary across countries due to a range of cultural, institutional, social and economic factors, the results of the Trust Survey show some clear trends affecting OECD members and identifies common areas for action.

There is a clear divide between citizen trust which is high in the day-to-day interactions with public institutions, and trust in the government’s ability to make important policy decisions involving trade-offs. A majority of people who recently used public services report relative satisfaction with national health, education, and administrative services, as well as confidence in the fair treatment of their applications for services or benefits. Investing in reliable and fair public services, improving service delivery, and responding to user feedback can further enhance trust, especially in the civil service and local government.

In contrast, only around 40 percent of respondents are confident that government adequately balances the interests of different generations, will regulate new technologies appropriately, or will succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next ten years.

This scepticism is partly explained by a lack of confidence in institutions and officials working in the public interest and a rather generalised view of the lack of citizens’ voice in decision-making. For instance, only about 30 percent believe their governments can resist corporate influence, or that they have a say in what the government does, and just 32 percent think the government would adopt the opinions expressed in a public consultation. The report shows that these are all important drivers of trust today, for which results could be improved in many countries.

The use of evidence in policy-making and public communication also matter for trust. However, on average, 38 percent of respondents think the government is unlikely to use the best available evidence in decision-making, and 40 percent of respondents believe the government is unlikely to explain how policy reform will affect them. To foster trust, governments should better engage citizens in decision-making and invest in healthy information ecosystems, actively communicating the evidence behind their decisions, while combating mis- and disinformation.

The next OECD Global Forum on Building Trust and Reinforcing Democracy, taking place on 21-22 October in Milan, Italy, will draw on the results of the OECD Trust Survey in discussing better policies responses to support democratic values and processes.

The 30 OECD participating countries were: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

For more information on the report and its methodology visit.

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