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Expand chart
Adapted from the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer; Chart: Axios Visuals

Around the world, trust in societal institutions among those with higher household incomes and levels of educations reached a record high in 2018, while trust in those same institutions among the mass population remained stagnant, according to Edelman's 2019 Global Trust Barometer Study.

Why it matters: This growing divide in societal trust between the "informed public," as Edelman calls it, and the rest of society is giving rise to the grassroots populist and protectionist movements that we're seeing in political elections.

By the numbers: While trust is increasing among the informed public, it remains stagnant among the mass population, leading to a 16 percentage point difference in trust between the two groups.

  • 65% of the informed public say they have trust in nongovernmental organizations, business, government and media, while only 49% of the mass population feels the same.
  • The phenomenon is global. Among 28 nations surveyed around the world, 18 markets have double-digit trust gaps between the informed pubic and the mass population, including Australia, China, the UAE, India and Canada.

The nations with particularly large trust gaps are often those that are experiencing populist movements or elections that are underscored by extreme political polarization over the past two years, like U.S., the U.K., Mexico, Germany and France.

Between the lines: The study shows that mass populations often feel more pessimistic about their futures, and less served by traditional institutions.

  • In nearly half of the markets surveyed around the world, majorities of the mass populations do not believe they will be better off in five years.
  • In nearly every nation surveyed, the informed public is more optimistic about its future.

The bottom line: Trust in institutions is rising among the wealthier and better educated classes around the world, but is not growing among everyone else.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.

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