Public trust in EU and politics on the rise

© Hollandse Hoogte
Last year, more than six in ten Dutch people aged 15 and up indicated they trusted others, a share similar to that in 2017. Levels of confidence in the press, banks, civil servants, the police, the House of Representatives and the European Union all saw a modest increase over these years. At the same time, trust in the judiciary, the military, large companies and the church remained more or less stable. This is evident from new figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on trust levels in Dutch society.

The share of people expressing trust in other people stood at 62 percent in both 2017 and 2018. This was 58 percent in 2012-2014 and 60 percent in 2015-2016. A clear majority also reported they trusted official institutions. In the period 2017–2018, three-quarters of the population showed trust in the police, just under three-quarters in the judiciary and 64 percent in the military. Likewise, these shares have gone up since 2012. Levels of trust are considerably lower with respect to the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) at 42 percent and the European Union (45 percent), despite a rising trend in recent years. Furthermore, trust in the press and in banks showed an upward trend in 2018.

Social trust levels, population aged 15 years and over
 2018 (%)2017 (%)2016 (%)
Fellow citizens61.762.259.9
Judiciary system72.672.971.5
Large companies39.739.437.4
Civil servants46.645.542.6
European Union45.243.136.0

Trust increases with the education level

The higher their education level, the more trustful people are. This has not changed since 2012. In 2018, 43 percent of people with only primary education trusted their fellow citizens. This trust level was 84 percent in the group with university education. Higher educated people also tend to have more trust in (political) institutions than the lower educated. The differences are less pronounced than where social trust is concerned. One notable exception is trust in banks, which decreased from 51 percent among the lowest educated to 36 percent among the highest educated. As for trust in large companies and churches, no differences are observed among the various education levels.

Less social trust in rural provinces

Trust levels vary between the different provinces. Trust is lowest in the province of Flevoland (55 percent) and highest in Utrecht (68 percent). Other provinces with relatively low levels of social trust (less than 60 percent) are Limburg, Zuid-Holland, Zeeland and Noord-Brabant. Other provinces with social trust levels exceeding 65 percent aside from Utrecht are Overijssel and Noord-Holland.
These regional differences are partly reflected in the levels of trust in the House of Representatives. In the top three provinces of Utrecht, Noord-Holland and Overijssel, still a majority of inhabitants are distrustful of national politics. Confidence in the House of Representatives is even lower in the provinces of Limburg, Zeeland, Drenthe and Groningen.

Social and political trust, population aged 15 yrs and over, 2017/2018
 Social trust (%)Political trust (%)