Trust levels in NGOs, businesses, government and media are continuing to decline in developed countries such as the US, France, Germany and UK, while many of their developing neighbors are seeing trust levels holding steady or rising.

That’s the conclusion of the newly released 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer, which polled 32,000 respondents across 28 countries to gauge how much trust they place in their country’s institutions.

China placed first, with an overall trust level of 79 percent. Despite its spot at the top of the heap, that number represents a four percent slide from the 83 percent of respondents in China who said they trusted the country’s institutions to do the right thing in last year’s survey. India’s overall trust level rose from 73 percent to 76 percent, and the UAE held steady at 74 percent.

When the data tracks closer to home, things look a bit less positive. While Canada’s overall trust level nudged up slightly from 52 percent to 53 percent, and Australia rose to 52 percent from 48 percent, the US saw a drop from 48 percent to 46 percent, and the UK dipped from 43 percent to 39 percent.

Companies based in China don’t seem to benefit from the country’s reputation for trust, with only 30 percent of global respondents globally saying that they trust China-based businesses. That compares rather poorly with US-based companies (with a 53 percent trust level) and Germany (62 percent).

2024 Edelman Trust Barometer: Establishment Leaders Not Trusted to Tell Us the Truth

When it comes to the most trusted sectors of society globally, “scientists” and “someone like me” come in as the top two categories, racking up a 74 percent trust level. NGO representatives (54 percent), CEOs (51 percent) and journalists (47 percent) all lag behind, with government leaders (45 percent) at the bottom of the heap.

Business comes in as the most trusted sector for integrating innovations into society, getting a positive response of 59 percent. NGOs come in at 54 percent, government at 50 percent and media at 48 percent.

Government regulators take a large hit in the study as well. Out of the 28 countries surveyed over half of the respondents in 26 of those countries say government regulators lack adequate understanding of emerging technologies to regulate them effectively.

That tracks with a general belief that innovation is being mismanaged across society. For the Global 28, only 22 percent say that innovation is “well managed,” while 39 percent label it “poorly managed” and 39 percent are undecided.

To get people on board with innovations, the study emphasizes that all institutions actively listen to them. “Hear our concerns, let us ask questions” is cited as a top trust-building strategy that respondents want to see from businesses, NGOs, government and the media.