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Drivers of Trust in Public Instns

Understanding cultural differences and extreme attitudes in the 2021 OECD Trust Survey, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, March 2023

Text analysis of open-ended responses

The 2021 OECD Survey on Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions provides a cross-country assessment of what influences people’s trust in government and public institutions, understanding people’s perception of the functioning of democratic institutions. Most of the drivers in the Trust Survey refer to government competencies and values that help countries take concrete steps to rebuild trust. Both at the individual and country-level trust may vary due to cultural, economic and social factors. This paper analyses the open-ended survey responses in 16 OECD countries to understand two questions. First can the answers provide insights into cultural differences and extreme attitudes of distrust? Second, what dimensions influence trust that are not considered in the theoretical OECD Trust Framework underpinning the Trust Survey? The results of the topic model resemble closely the drivers in the Trust Framework, but respondents name not just government inputs, outputs, and processes, but also socioeconomic vulnerabilities, intergenerational and global challenges. While many respondents write that ”corruption”, ”money” and ”power” drives their trust in public institutions, these feelings are not associated with government transparency and accountability. These findings show the advantage of qualitative measurements (open-ended survey questions) to understand the complex relationship between trust and public governance.

Available from 21 March 2023

In series: OECD Working Papers on Public Governance – view more titles

Citation details:

OECD (2023), “Understanding cultural differences and extreme attitudes in the 2021 OECD Trust Survey: Text analysis of open-ended responses”, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 57, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/ef25d883-en.
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