OECD Guidelines on Measuring Trust

OECD Guidelines on Measuring Trust


212 pages


Trust, both interpersonal trust, and trust in institutions, is a key ingredient of growth, societal well-being and governance. As a first step to improving existing measures of trust, the OECD Guidelines on Measuring Trust provide international recommendations on collecting, publishing, and analysing trust data to encourage their use by National Statistical Offices (NSOs). The Guidelines also outline why measures of trust are relevant for monitoring and policy making, and why NSOs have a critical role in enhancing the usefulness of existing trust measures. Besides looking at the statistical quality of trust measures, best approaches for measuring trust in a reliable and consistent way and guidance for reporting, interpretation and analysis are provided. A number of prototype survey modules that national and international agencies can use in their household surveys are included.

These Guidelines have been produced as part of the OECD Better Life Initiative, a pioneering project launched in 2011, with the objective to measure society’s progress across eleven domains of well-being. They complement a series of similar measurement guidelines on subjective well-being, micro statistics on household wealth, integrated analysis of the distribution on household income, consumption and wealth, as well as the quality of the working environment.



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Date de parution 27 novembre 2017
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9789264278226
Licence : Tous droits réservés
Langue English

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OECD Guidelines on Measuring Trust
Please cite this publication as: OECD (2017),OECD Guidelines on Measuring Trust, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264278219-en.
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ISBN:978-92-64-27822-6 (epub) - 978-92-64-27820-2 (print) - 978-92-64-27821-9 (pdf) DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264278219-en
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Understanding and improving well-being requires solid evidence that can inform policymakers and citizens where, when, and for whom life is getting better. Since the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission highlighted the need to complement GDP with better measures of social, economic and environmental outcomes in 2009, the statistical community has made remarkable progress towards developing and producing such measures and regularly monitoring human well-being. Nevertheless, certain topics have not yet received the attention their importance for society’s progress might warrant. Trust is one of these topics, and these Guidelines on Measuring Trust, prepared under the umbrella of the OECD Better Life Initiative launched in 2011, represent an important step towards improving and expanding the system of well-being statistics further.
The issue of trust, or lack of it, has mostly made headlines in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Indeed, people’s trust in their public institutions fell sharply in most OECD countries and it has not since fully recovered to its pre-crisis levels. Yet, only a society where people cooperate with and express solidarity for one another, and where public institutions act competently and are accessible to all citizens enables a high quality of life for all. Trust in other people and trust in institutions are essential ingredients for social and economic progress while a prospering society, in turn, is one in which trust can blossom.
It is therefore no surprise that several recent policy initiatives have stressed the need for better measures of trust. For instance, the OECD Trust Strategy was initiated during the 2013 OECD Ministerial Council meeting on Jobs, Equality and Trust to provide guidance, including methodological and measurement advice, to OECD governments on how to restore trust in public institutions. As well, Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) endorsed in 2015 by all UN member countries (“Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels”) focuses on trust and governance. And the UN Statistical Commission has set up a dedicated group (the Praia Group) to develop a handbook on governance statistics to inform and monitor the SDG targets under Goal 16.
With some notable exceptions, the measurement of trust does not have a long tradition, particularly within official statistics, and official measures that exist are not always collected in a regular and internationally comparable manner. These Guidelines aim at contributing to filling this gap. Their main objective is to support data producers in their own initiatives to measuring trust. In particular, the Guidelines will provide direct inputs to the UN Praia Group. They synthesize what we currently know about good practice on how trust can, and should, be measured. This knowledge might change as the evidence base on trust develops. However, especially so for measures of interpersonal trust, there is already today good evidence that the suggested survey questions produce valid data and are ready to be included in official surveys.
It is my hope that these Guidelines will contribute to a step change in the quality and availability of trust data going forward.
Martine Durand
OECD Chief Statistician
Director of the OECD Statistics Directorate
This report is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Organisation or of the governments of its member countries.
These Guidelines were produced as part of the work programme of the OECD Statistics Committee and the Public Governance Committee, whose delegates have reviewed the report. The report was prepared by Conal Smith and Lara Fleischer from the OECD Statistics Directorate. An advisory group composed of representatives from national statistical offices of OECD member countries (Adrian Franco, INEGI, Mexico; Sophie Pontieux, INSEE, France; Dawn Snape and Veronique Siegler, ONS, UK; Fiona Carnes and Joanne Baker, ABS, Australia), and researchers and policy makers (Prof. Soonhee Kim and Prof. Dong-Young Kim, Korea Development Institute; Prof. Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University; Prof. Yann Algan, Paris Institute of Political Studies; Dr. Monica Ferrin, University of Turin; Jacob Saeger, UK Cabinet Strategy Office; Prof. Marc Hetherington, Vanderbilt University; Prof. Eugene Kandel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and former Chairman of the Israeli National Economic Council) provided very valuable comments and advice on the drafting of the report. The report also benefited from the comments of Martine Durand, Marco Mira d’Ercole, Carrie Exton and Fabrice Murtin (OECD Statistics Directorate), as well as Rolf Alter, Zsuzsanna Lonti, Paloma Baena Olabe and Santiago Gonzalez (OECD Directorate for Public Governance). Patrick Hamm, Anne-Lise Faron and Virginie Elgrably ensured the final editing of the document.
Executive summary
T h eOECD Guidelines on Measuring Trust aim to assist data producers in collecting and reporting trust measures, and to support users of trust data in understanding different measurement approaches and their implications for analysis. They describe best practices in trust measurement, propose a core set of measures to form the basis for international comparisons, and encourage national statistical offices (NSOs) to include measures in their regular household surveys.
In particular, the Guidelines are intended to:
Improve the international comparability of trust measures by providing guidance for NSOs and other data producers, grounded in best practice in question design; Summarise what is known about the validity and reliability of trust measures and, where possible, extend this evidence through empirical analysis of existing surveys; Act as a catalyst for NSOs and researchers to broaden the evidence base on the validity and reliability of trust measures; In the longer run, increase the number of countries for which official measures of trust are produced, so as to contribute to the monitoring of critical targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
What is trust?
The Guidelines make a fundamental distinction between individuals’ trust in other people (interpersonal trust) and trust in institutions (institutional trust):
For interpersonal trust, the Guidelines distinguish betweengeneralised trust andlimitEd trust. Generalised trust refers to trust in people who are not known to the respondent or to trust in situations where the person being trusted is not specified. Limited trust focuses on persons known to the respondent, including family, friends and neighbours. Institutional trust refers to trust in all types of institutions, with trust inpoliticàl, làw ànd ordErandnon-govErnmEntàl institutionsused to refer to a narrower concept.
Why have these Guidelines been produced?
The policy need for better measures of trust has been underscored by international initiatives such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and work to improve measures of key economic, social and environmental outcomes, such as that initiated by the Report of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress in 2009 and carried forward by the OECD’s Better Life Initiative.
Trust measures based on household surveys are already collected as part of the official statistical system in several OECD countries. This has largely been the result of demand from these countries’ policy makers for better information on people’s well-being, social capital and
social cohesion. However, regular, timely and consistent measurement is less common, and most comparable information at the moment comes from unofficial sources.
How are the Guidelines intended to be used?
The Guidelines do not prescribe a single approach to measurement, but instead bring together information on what is currently known about measuring trust. Users of the Guidelines will find different parts of this document valuable depending on their needs.
Chapter 2 addresses the issues of concept, relevance and validity. This chapter will be of interest to both users of trust data, interested in what concepts are captured by different measures and the extent to which different trust measures are valid, and to producers of trust data, wanting to reach a judgement about whether to measure trust and which concepts to focus on. Chapter 3 brings together information on the key methodological issues that should inform question design, including issues relating to measurement error, question wording, response formats, survey context, survey mode, response styles and cultural context. This chapter provides a resource for producers of trust data interested in question design as well as for technical users wanting to understand different sources of bias in trust data. Chapter 4 provides specific guidance on best practice in measuring trust. This chapter is structured around the different stages of the research process, i.e. planning, survey and sample design, question design, and implementation. More than the other chapters, this section is prescriptive, and is intended particularly for data producers during the survey design process. Chapter 5 focuses on the output and analysis of trust measures. The main goal for the chapter is supporting the production of basic descriptive outputs and the interpretation of trust data, such as evidence on what can be considered aslàrgE orsmàll changes in trust levels. The chapter also reviews the analysis of trust data to help users who are approaching the data with a research question requiring more sophisticated analysis.
There are two annexes to the Guidelines.
Annex A brings together a wide range of trust questions currently in use in different surveys around the world, from both official and unofficial surveys. This annex will help readers understand what sorts of measures are available from different sources. Annex B contains five prototype question modules as starting point for data producers to develop their own questions. The first core question module includes a limited set of measures that are intended for widespread use. A single ’primary measure’ defines the absolute minimum that should be included in relevant surveys and forms the basis for cross-country comparison; another four questions provide basic information on the most important types of interpersonal and institutional trust. The other four modules cover different approaches to capturing information on trust, focusing on respondents’ evaluation of their feeling of trust, expectations about others’ behaviour, past experiences, and experimental techniques to observe trusting behaviour.
Next steps
As the evidence base on trust develops, the information in these Guidelines will eventually need to be updated. The Guidelines should thus not be viewed as “carved in stone”. Ideally, a review should take place some time after their release to assess the degree to which the evidence base has improved and to identify any next steps to move towards greater standardisation of trust measurement in the official statistical system.
Overview and recommendations
Themain points and recommendations from the Guidelines are summarised in the following. These are organised in four sections, each reflecting the content of the substantive chapters of the Guidelines. The section corresponding to Chapter 4 (measuring trust) is outlined in more detail as this chapter provides the most detailed and prescriptive recommendations relating to the collection of trust data.