30% of adults say most people can be trusted

Most people in China and India say they tend trust others; few in Brazil, Malaysia, and Turkey do.

A new Ipsos survey finds that, on average across 30 countries, 30% of adults say most people can be trusted. Among these countries, interpersonal trust is highest in China and India, where 56% say most people can be trusted, and lowest in Brazil, Malaysia, and Turkey, where fewer than 15% say so.

The survey was conducted among 22,534 adults under the age of 75 conducted between February 18 and March 4 on Ipsos’s Global Advisor online survey platform.

The Demographics of Social Trust

Globally, the propensity to trust others is greater among those who are business decision-makers, holders of a higher education degree, married, older, male, and affluent.

Interpersonal trust - by demographics

Business Decision-Making Power 

Both at a global level and in most countries, the managerial class tends to be significantly more trusting of others. On average, the percentage of those who say most people can be trusted is 11 points higher among self-identified senior executives, decision-makers, or leaders in their company and others.

  • It is highest in France, India, Russia, the United States, and the Netherlands where the difference is 15 points or higher.
  • The only countries showing the opposite pattern are Turkey and Sweden.

Education 

People with a college education tend to be more trusting than those without. On average, 35% of adults with a higher education degree say most people can be trusted vs. 28% of those with a medium level and 26% of those with a lower level.

  • The Netherlands, Belgium, South Korea, Canada, France, Italy, and Germany all show a difference of more than 10 points between the percentages of those with a higher education and those with a medium level of education who say that most people can be trusted.
  • Russia is the only country where people with a higher education level are less likely to be trusting of others.

Marriage  

In most countries, married adults are more likely to be trusting of other people than those who are not married (33% vs. 27% on average across the 30 countries).

  • The difference is especially sharp in China, the United States, Ireland, Spain, and India where the percentage of those who say “most people can be trusted” is at least 10 points higher among those who are married than among those who are not.
  • The two notable exceptions are Hungary and Saudi Arabia.

Age 

Globally, interpersonal trust tends to be more prevalent among older adults. On average, 33% of those aged 50-74 say most people can be trusted vs. 29% of those aged 35-49 and 28% of those under 35.

  • Age-based differences in interpersonal trust are most acute in Ireland, Spain, South Korea, Australia, China, Colombia, Mexico, and Turkey – all countries where the percentage of those who say “most people can be trusted” is at least 10 points higher among those aged 50-74 than it is among those under the age of 35.

Gender 

Finally, in most countries, males tend to be more trusting of other people than are females as on average, 32% of men say most people can be trusted vs. 27% of women – a 5-point difference.

  • This is most especially the case in Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, and Great Britain.
  • The only country where women are significantly more likely than men to say most people can be trusted is Mexico.

Income 

Within most countries, the prevalence of interpersonal trust increases with people’s household income. On average, 32% of those who fall in their country’s upper-income group tend to trust others vs. 30% with a medium income and 26% of those with a lower income.  

  • The Netherlands and Peru both show a difference of more than 15 points between the percentages of those with a higher income and those with a medium income who say that most people can be trusted.
  • Both countries as well as the United States, Canada, Sweden, Mexico, and Great Britain show a difference of more than 12 points between higher-income earners lower-income earners.

Interpersonal Trust, Consumer Sentiment, and Personal Happiness

Interpersonal trust is highly correlated with both consumer confidence and personal happiness.

We compared the percentage saying most adults can be trusted in 23 countries with Ipsos’s Consumer Confidence Index for each of these countries—a composite metric indicative of consumers’ perceptions about their current and prospective financial situation, purchasing comfort, and economic, jobs, and investment environment. We found that these two metrics are very highly correlated[1].

  • Among the 23 countries, the four with the highest level of interpersonal trust (China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden) are also the four with the highest consumer confidence index.

We also compared the percentage saying most adults can be trusted in 28 countries with the percentage saying they are very or somewhat happy in these same countries. Here too, Ipsos found a strong relationship[2]: in most countries, the prevalence of personal happiness reflects the prevalence of personal trust.

  • However, there are a few outliers: France and to a lesser extent Brazil, Malaysia, South Africa, and Poland show higher levels of personal happiness than one might expect based on their relatively low levels of personal trust.


These are the findings of a 30-country Ipsos survey conducted February 18 – March 4, 2022, among 22,534 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Ireland (Republic), Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16-74 in 24 other countries, via Ipsos’s Global Advisor online survey platform.
[1] R-squared of 0.76
[2] R-squared of 0.54

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