More trust in Government, less in churches and charities

A new study commissioned by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies shows the number of New Zealanders who trust government has risen since 2016.

Data collected for IGPS Trust survey.

The Colmar Brunton survey asked 1,000 people across the country how much they trust key groups such as government ministers, police, medical practitioners, churches, charities, small businesses, the media and bloggers.

Asked whether they trust the government to do what is right for New Zealand, 65 percent now answer yes, compared with 48 percent in 2016. A total of 59 percent say they trust government to deal successfully with national problems, up from 47 percent in 2016, and 49 percent think New Zealand citizens’ interests are equally and fairly considered by the government, up from 39 percent.

"This large boost in trust surrounding government was unexpected and really positive," says Dr Simon Chapple, IGPS Director.

"In other countries we are seeing a decline in trust in democratic political institutions, so it’s interesting that we seem to be going in the other direction. The test will be whether those levels of trust can be sustained."

Dr Chapple notes that trust in the police and courts is also significantly up.

"On the down side, there was a statistically significant decline in trust in both churches and charities. Trust in other social institutions was broadly stable."

The data also points to differences in overall trust levels across age groups, with older people being more trusting. Of those aged 60 or older, 62 percent reported a high level of trust generally in people, compared with 38 percent high trust in the 18-29 year old group, and 44 percent for those aged 30 to 59.

"It is unclear if we observe this pattern because people trust more as they age," says Dr Chapple, "or whether younger people today are generally less trusting than young people a generation ago. But overseas evidence suggest that trust levels may be falling in younger generations."

The interviews were conducted between 26 February and 4 March, with respondents aged 18 or over. Overall nearly half the respondents, 47 percent, said they have a relatively high level of trust in most people. A smaller number have middling levels of trust while around one in ten say they are distrusting.