Trust in Government

As part of its work on measuring drivers of trust in democratic government, the OECD is exploring the various ways governments can build trust - an especially important task as countries emerge from the global pandemic and face new global challenges.

Trust is the foundation upon which the legitimacy of democratic institutions rest. Trust is crucial for ensuring the success of a wide range of public policies that depend on behavioural responses from the public. For example, public trust leads to greater compliance with public health responses, regulations and the tax system. In the longer term, trust is needed to help governments tackle long-term societal challenges such as climate change, ageing populations, and changing labour markets.

OECD Trust Survey

Trust Survey Report launch date: 13 July 2022   Register here

The OECD Survey on the Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions, (OECD Trust Survey),  monitors people’s trust in different institutions and levels of government across OECD countries. It poses a set of situational questions to nationally representative samples in order to assess the role of different drivers of public trust.

Survey modules ask about people’s levels of trust in different institutions, their satisfaction with government reliability and responsiveness, and their evaluation of government action on key long-term challenges (e.g. climate change and automation). The survey explores variation in trust across age, gender, income, education and region in order to build a complete picture of how trust works across diverse groups.

The inaugural edition of the survey includes the following 22 OECD countries:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

What drives public trust in government?

OECD work has identified five main public governance drivers of trust in government institutions. They capture the degree to which institutions are responsive and reliable in delivering policies and services, and act in line with the values of openness, integrity and fairness.

Recent revisions to the Famework - intended to guide public efforts to recover trust in government during and after crises - identify two additional dimensions that play a role in generating public trust. These are:

  • cultural, socioeconomic and political drivers, and;
  • government’s capacity to address global and intergenerational issues

These various drivers interact with each other to influence people’s trust in public institutions.


Country studies

Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions in Finland
Public trust is a cornerstone of the Finnish administrative and political model, it has also been a key element of Finland's successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preserving and strengthening the Finnish trust capital will be of essence for facing trade-offs and challenges ahead, particularly during the recovery phase following the pandemic. Through the combination of quantitative and qualitative methods this study examines the key determinants of trust in government, the local government and the public administration in Finland. Overall, it finds that responsiveness of public services and reliability of policies are key determinants of trust in institutions in Finland.

Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions in Norway
Trust in public institutions is a cornerstone of the Norwegian administrative and political model. It has also been a crucial element in Norway’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preserving and strengthening this “trust capital” will be essential for Norway in addressing future trade-offs and challenges, such as ensuring the sustainability of the welfare model, coping with climate change and maintaining social cohesion. This study examines the main determinants of trust in Norway’s national government, local government and public administration.

Understanding the Drivers of Trust in Government Institutions in Korea
The erosion of public trust challenges government’s capacity to implement policies and carry out reforms. While Korea has achieved and maintained rapid economic growth and development, and performs comparatively well in several existing measures of the quality of public administration, trust in government institutions is relatively low. This pioneering case study presents a measurement and policy framework of the drivers of institutional trust and explores some policy avenues Korea could take to restore trust in public institutions.

In focus