May 23, 2022 - World

New global poll: Trust in West's democracies rises

Illustration of a globe with triangles and lines in the background.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Trust in democracies is rising in response to the war in Ukraine, according to an Edelman Trust Barometer released Monday morning as the Davos economic forum opens.

Driving the news: People in the U.S., U.K., Germany and France reported notably higher levels of confidence in their institutions in May compared to January, according to the survey of 14,000 people in in 14 countries over the past month.

Why it matters: Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, trust in developed democracies was decreasing — and trust in authoritarian regimes was increasing among the people who live under them.

  • In the past five months, trust has decreased among the general population in China, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Details: Across Western democracies, trust in all institutions — business, government, nonprofits and media — has increased, according to the Edelman special report, "The Geopolitical Business."

  • In the U.S., business remains the most trusted institution by far. But strong gains across government and media suggest skepticism of major institutions is subsiding as geopolitical stress rises.
  • The Trust Barometer finds a huge rise in nationalism among developed democracies. Trust in domestic brands in the U.S. and U.K. has soared in the past five months. Trust in domestic brands has plummeted in China.

Reality check: Trust gains in Western democracies were driven mostly by affluent respondents. The lowest economic quartile has remained stagnant. This suggests the income-based trust divide that was evident in January has continued to widen.

What to watch: The war in Ukraine has brought geopolitics to the forefront for all institutions, but especially for business.

  • A vast majority of 14,000 survey respondents across 14 countries (95%) say they expect businesses to act in response to an unprovoked invasion.

Go deeper: Read the report

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