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Trust in others

Definition

The proportion of the population aged 15 years and over reporting that people can “almost always” or “usually” be trusted, in the Quality of Life Survey.

Relevance

Trust in others is an important indicator of how people feel about members of their community. High levels of trust facilitate co-operative behaviour among people and contribute to people’s ability to develop positive relationships with others.

Current level and trends

In 2008, 78 percent of New Zealanders aged 15 years and over said that people can be trusted, a similar proportion to that recorded in 2006 (76 percent). The largest group (60 percent), said that people can usually be trusted, while 17 percent said that people can almost always be trusted. The corresponding figures for 2006 were 58 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

Figure SC4.1 Proportion of people reporting that people can be trusted, by level of trust, 2006 and 2008

Figure SC4.1 Proportion of people reporting that people can be trusted, by level of trust, 2006 and 2008

Sources: Quality of Life Survey 2006; Quality of Life Survey 2008

Age and sex differences

The proportion of New Zealanders aged 15 years and over reporting that people can be trusted was similar for males (78 percent) and females (77 percent). Eighteen percent of males and 17 percent of females agreed that people can almost always be trusted, while 60 percent of both males and females said that people can usually be trusted.

Young adults aged 15–24 years (74 percent) were slightly less likely than people aged 25 years and over (78 percent) to report that people can be trusted.

Ethnic differences

People of European ethnicity reported a slightly higher level of trust in people (79 percent) than Māori (75 percent). Pacific peoples (72 percent) and those of Asian ethnicity (71 percent) had the lowest proportions who said that people could be trusted.

Figure SC4.2 Proportion of people reporting that people can be trusted, by ethnic group and level of trust, 2008

Figure SC4.2 Proportion of people reporting that people can be trusted, by ethnic group and level of trust, 2008

Source: Quality of Life Survey 2008

Socio-economic differences

Across all income levels, a large majority of New Zealanders indicated that people can be trusted. Overall levels of reported trust increased with personal income levels. People with incomes over $100,000 reported the highest overall level of trust (84 percent), while people with incomes of $30,000 or less reported the lowest level (76 percent).

Figure SC4.3 Proportion of people reporting that people can be trusted, by personal income and level of trust, 2008

Figure SC4.3 Proportion of people reporting that people can be trusted, by personal income and level of trust, 2008

Source: Quality of Life Survey 2008

Regional differences

Across all New Zealand’s big cities, a large majority of New Zealanders indicated that people can be trusted. Reported levels of trust were highest in Wellington (87 percent) and lowest in Manukau (68 percent).

International comparison

New Zealanders’ level of trust in other people in 2006 compared well with those of people in European Union countries in 2005, and to that of people in Canada in 2003. Out of 25 OECD countries for which there was data, New Zealand had the sixth highest reported level of trust in other people.108

New Zealand’s reported level of trust in other people (76 percent in 2006) was above the median of 56 percent for these 25 OECD countries. Norway had the highest reported level of trust in people (87 percent) followed by Denmark and Sweden (both 84 percent). Canada (53 percent) and the United Kingdom (55 percent) reported lower levels of trust in other people than New Zealand.

» View technical details about the trust in others indicator