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Big trust disparity between elites and general population

·Anchor

Global communications group Edelman released its 2016 Trust Barometer at the World Economic Forum in Davos, SwitzerlandThe annual survey tracks the public's trust in business, government, media, and non-governmental organizations.

Richard Edelman told Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer that the most significant finding was the widening trust gap between the informed public and mass population globally. The “informed public,” or elite, are regular media consumers between the ages of 25 and 64 with at least a college education and an income in the top 25%.

“The attitudes of the elites are at a 16-year high, while the mass population has flatlined,” said Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman. “You’ve got populism. You’ve also got the blocking of innovation. You have people afraid, in particular because of the compression of middle-class incomes. The middle and lower class are nervous over the next five years.”

Trust is below 50% for the mass population in more than 60% of the 28 countries surveyed. That's almost the same level, on average, of trust as in the Great Recession. And the trust disparity between the informed public and mass population is now at double-digit levels in over 50% of the countries surveyed. The U.S. posted the largest disparity at nearly 20 points, followed by the United Kingdom, France, and India.

But it’s not all bad news. Despite the skepticism, respondents viewed business in a positive light. The 2016 Trust Barometer found that business was significantly more trusted than the government in 21 of the 28 countries surveyed, and respondents viewed business as the institution most trusted to keep pace with rapid change.

Edelman says this is a “real opportunity moment” for businesses right now. “Trust in business has climbed since 2008 and is now at the point of equivalence with NGOs. Also, trust in CEOs has risen to almost 50% globally and to 70% in select markets,” said Edelman. “I think this is because we have new kinds of CEOs who are leading from the front and making business not about just making profits, but about answering societal issues like employment and the environment.”

The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer surveyed more than 33,000 respondents, consisting of 1,150 general population respondents ages 18 and over from each of the 28 countries surveyed and 500 informed public respondents in the U.S. and China, plus 200 informed public respondents in all other surveyed countries.