Trust in Norway

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Photo: Marius E. Hauge/MFA Norway.

Imagine if you could find out how much your boss, neighbour and Prime Minister were earning at the click of a mouse. If you lived in Norway, you could. While it is common in many countries to reveal what state leaders and government officials earn, Norwegian citizens have been able to go online and check out the earnings, tax and wealth of everyone since 2001.

The purpose of all this transparency is to increase people’s trust in the tax and social-security system.

On a world scale, people in the Nordic countries are unusually trusting. This applies not only to the social-security system and the government, but also general confidence in other people. A much higher proportion of the population than in other European countries agree with the following statement: “Most people can be trusted.”

The Nordic countries are also known to have little corruption and systems ensuring everyone an education and other public benefits and services – often referred to as the Scandinavian welfare state model of government.

“We find a strong association between a low degree of corruption and a high degree of confidence,” says Bo Rothstein, a Swedish political scientist and professor at the University of Oxford. Rothstein spoke about his and others’ research on the link between non-corruption and social trust at a conference held by the independent research foundation Fafo in Oslo in March.

Social scientists can quantify confidence to institutions and the public’s confidence in others. Rothstein and others have found that when we trust law enforcers and the courts – and other institutions generally function well – we also trust each other more.

Story sourced from ScienceNordic.