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Trust important for a cohesive society

Trust is the bedrock of modern democratic societies. Public institutions, like the police, the courts, and government, design and enforce rules and policies that aim to promote a well-functioning society. Others aim to provide opportunities for people to participate in society and economy, for example, through health and education services. Trust in institutions tells us how people perceive the transparency, accountability, and integrity of these public institutions.

Individuals’ trust in the fairness and impartiality of public institutions, like the police and the courts, strongly influences their willingness to comply with the rules set by these institutions. For the health and education system, trust plays a key role in determining whether people will make the best use of the available services. Trust in institutions influences how effective public institutions can be in promoting individual and societal well-being. For institutions to function effectively they need to have a high level of community trust and support.

Understanding the levels of trust in public institutions and the factors associated with its various levels will help policy makers and service providers to promote trust. In turn, this should improve their ability to achieve their goals.

Levels of trust could be overstated

Te Kupenga is a sample survey, which means there is always a chance of bias if the answers of respondents differ from the potential answers of those who did not answer. We use several methods to ensure this bias is as low as possible. However, it is likely that Māori who have a lower trust in institutions were more likely to not respond to Te Kupenga. This means the estimates of trust in institutions could be overstated.

However, our focus in this report is on the characteristics associated with levels of trust in institutions, rather than the actual levels of trust. Any bias in Te Kupenga will be spread evenly across these characteristics, making comparisons between groups sound (table 1 shows how responses show little difference by age group).

The achieved weighted response rate for Te Kupenga was 74 percent.

Table 1

 Unweighted response rates for Te Kupenga by age group
 Age group (years) Unweighted response rate (%)
 15–19 72
 20–24 64
 25–29 71
 30–34  75
 35–39 75
 40–44 79
 45–49 79
 50–54 79
 55–59 83
 60–64 76
 65–69 79
 70–74 82
 75+ 72
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