Education and two social trust indicators Publications
Education contributes to wider wellbeing than only individuals’ better work and earning prospects. This short report explores how education is related to social trust, using two measures – agreeing or disagreeing with the statements:
- There are only a few people you can trust completely.
- If you are not careful, other people will take advantage of you.
Disagreeing with the statements indicates stronger social trust.
Author(s): Paul Satherley, Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis, Ministry of Education
Date Published: December 2021
For both measures of social trust, higher-educated people were generally more socially trusting. On the other hand, many highly educated people did agree with the statements, but far less than those without any qualifications. The background to the positive association between education and social trust will be a complex relationship with many social and economic factors in play.
The association between education and social trust was a little different for men and women. Women seemed a little more trusting than men. The analysis suggests that 45 to 64-year-olds may have been a little more trusting than younger people for the indicator on other people taking advantage.
Most Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries had increasing social trust with increasing education. This education effect was large for the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands, medium for New Zealand, but almost zero for Mexico and Greece. For the first indicator of social trust, New Zealand ranked eighth in the 30 participating countries.
The two indicators of social trust are from the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills which is part of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). New Zealand participated in 2014 and will participate in the next survey in 2022/23 with results due in 2024.