Trust in Governments Slides to Record Low Amid U.S. Spy Programs

Trust in governments fell, making them the world’s least-trusted institutions for a third year, according to a survey published before policy makers and executives gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Faith in governments fell to 44 percent from 48 percent in 2013, according to the 2014 Trust Barometer survey published by Edelman, a public-relations firm. Trust in business held steady at about 58 percent, bringing its lead over government to the widest in the 14 years the poll has been taken.

Governments are struggling to maintain public trust amid the disclosure of U.S. spy programs by former contractor Edward Snowden and record unemployment in Europe. Confidence in government in the U.S. plummeted 16 points to 37 percent, Edelman said.

“This is a profound evolution in the landscape of trust from 2009 where business had to partner with government to regain trust, to today, where business must lead the debate for change,” Richard Edelman, the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Trust in CEOs is at 43 percent, above the 36 percent score for government officials, according to the survey. Confidence in the media slipped 5 percentage points to 52 percent.

Banks and financial services were the least-trusted industries for the fourth year, scoring 51 percent, up 1 point from 2013, the survey shows. Technology companies topped the ranking again at 79 percent, up two percentage points from the previous year.

Edelman polled 6,000 individuals in 27 countries with a college education and with household income in the top quartile for their age and country. The ages of those surveyed ranged from 24 to 65.

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