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February 16, 2021

Nordic Gold

Few would disagree that it is generally beneficial for the wellbeing of any society if the people in that society trust their leaders and each other. One imagines that all governments pay some heed to the extent to which they are trusted by the voter and perhaps more importantly, the extent to which social trust runs across society. In 2017, the Nordic countries jointly published a report  – Nordic Gold – which highlighted the prevalence of social trust across Nordic countries and its contribution to quality of life, health care, low corruption, economic growth and good governance. Lessons to learn for us all.

Sören Holmberg and Bo Rothstein

Full report – click here

Abstract of report – Nordic Gold

Interpersonal trust is among the highest in the world in Scandinavia. Since everything in a society functions better if high trust reduces all transaction costs, Scandinavian trustfulness is truly a Nordic gold. Findings from Swedish studies, from the 1980s up to the present day, suggest however a small recent dip—and some social and political groups betray distinctly lower, and in some cases diminishing, trust. These groups tend to be more vulnerable and socially dependent, as well as politically distant from established society: the unemployed, those with poor health, early retirees and individuals otherwise supported by welfare benefits. Politically, sympathisers with the populist, nationalist Sweden Democrats, as well as citizens without any party.preference, tend also to manifest markedly lower interpersonal trust. Explaining the results, we propose a corruption-trust theory focusing on how people perceive how social institutions function and public officials behave. People draw personal conclusions from the actions they observe—or think they observe—in others.