Trust everybody, but cut the cards. —Finley Peter Dunne
Class differences in the U.S. are widening on many fronts–wealth, technology, education, to name a few. And according to the results of a new Gallup survey, we can now confidently add Trust to the list. The survey was conducted via telephone interviews with more than 238,000 adults, aged 18 and older — behold a few outcomes below.
82% of those making $90,000 per year or more say they would expect a neighbor who found a lost wallet or purse containing $200 to return it. In contrast, 50% of those making less than $24,000 per year expressed similar trust in their neighbors.
81% of those with an advanced degree say they believe their neighbor would return their lost wallet; only 48% of those without a high school diploma said the same.
On average, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics are less likely to say they would trust a neighbor to return their wallet with the money in it than are whites and Asians.
Another finding of the survey is that the older we get, the more we trust. Averaging across all ethnic groups, older people are more likely than their younger counterparts to say they would trust a neighbor to return their wallet with the money in it. 55% of those aged 29 and younger say so, and this figure increases steadily as age increases. Among those aged 65 and older, 75% say they think that their neighbor would return the wallet with the cash.
To the extent that trust is linked with a sense of well-being, these results are decidedly bad news (the age result notwithstanding), though sadly not surprising. And as the Gallup analysis points out, the problem feeds itself: lower socioeconomic areas have lower levels of trust, which handicap efforts to improve conditions, which leads to worse conditions and less trust. Looking at it another way, lower levels of trust may be spawned by lower socioeconomic conditions, which impede greater trust from developing in the community. Either way, troubling.