At the same time, in the two most powerful nations in the world, China and the US, trust is moving dramatically in opposite directions, with China showing the most extreme positive changes in trust and the US the most extreme negative changes this year.
The US is enduring the worst collapse ever recorded in the history of the Edelman Trust Barometer. This is led by a decline in trust in government, which is down 30 points among the informed public and 14 points among the general population, while for the informed public trust in each of the other institutions sank by 20 or more points.
General population trust declined nine points on the Trust Index scale to 43, placing the nation in the lower middle segment. But informed public trust imploded, down 23 Trust Index points to 45, ranking the US lowest of the 28 nations surveyed, and all but eliminating the trust gap between the informed public and the mass population. This decline is transversal, across age, region and gender.
China’s trust is soaring; it is now the No.1 nation on the Trust Index among both the informed public and the general population. The government and media have always been highly trusted, but there is an inexorable rise in business and NGOs. The middle class is growing quickly, and Chinese brands such as Tencent and Alibaba are moving aggressively into global markets. China’s trust scores are nearly matched by India, the UAE, Indonesia and Singapore, while the Western democracies languish mostly in distruster territory, challenging the traditional geopolitical vision of satisfaction with systems.
The “mass-class” divide persists, with only seven nations in the distruster category for the informed public, while among the general population 20 of the 28 nations surveyed now fall into the category of distrust. Declines of trust are no longer linked as closely to economic woes but instead to specific violations, such as quality control falsification at Japan Inc’s Kobe Steel or the bribery scandals leading to the jailing of CEOs of Brazilian giants JBS and Odebrecht.