Global trust in government declines: Young people now hold more trust in charities and non-profits than government with long-term health

Global trust in government declines: Young people now hold more trust in charities and non-profits than government with long-term health

  • Globally, young people now trust charities and companies more with their long-term welfare than governments
  • COVID-19 has ‘collapsed the distinction between customers and employees’ as over half (53%) of young people will purchase a product based on how the business acted during COVID-19, and three quarters (77%) will take business behaviour during COVID-19 into consideration when choosing a place to work
  • Overall, 78% of Gen-Z believe the human race will emerge from this crisis stronger, but optimism per country varies in line with COVID-19 death rates 
  • Emerging from pandemic, young people now view mental health over climate change as the priority challenge to be addressed to protect their long-term future

Young people around the world now hold more trust with their long-term health in charities and non-profit organisations than the government, a new report reveals.

The new B+A Global Youth Pulse revealed 40% of people aged 13-24 trust charities and non-profit firms with their long-term health over government. Just a fifth (19%) trust their governments with their long-term health, a year on from the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, but a quarter (24%) place greater trust in for-profit companies.

It comes as deaths across countries have mounted. The findings showed the higher rate of COVID-19 deaths per one million people is very strongly correlated (0.95) with a higher trust in charities and non-profits.

The study of 2,200 13-24 year olds across five continents (the UK, USA, China, France, South Africa and Brazil) from B+A, a global management consultancy, also revealed that trust in government for their own long-term health is strongly correlated (0.83) with the year-on-year GDP change forecast for 2021. The findings showed that a pessimistic economic outlook after the pandemic is in line with how young people view their governments when it comes to their own long-term health. 

Andrew Missingham, co-founder of B+A told B365: “Whilst this correlation does not imply a causal link, the question is, what does it indeed imply?”

The younger the respondent, the less likely they are to trust government. And while this is also the case for brands (the younger the person, the less they trust brands), the opposite was true for charities and non-profits, with 13-16 year olds being 10% more likely than 21-24 year olds to trust charities.

Ben Gallagher, co-founder of B+A commented: “Government policy in the handling of coronavirus has affected the level of trust Gen-Z place on government when it comes to their long term health. For the past 12 months people’s lives have been at the mercy of their government. This erosion of trust opens up opportunities for businesses, cultural organisations and charities to step into this space and better service society as a whole.”

How the pandemic has changed Gen-Z’s view on companies

It wasn’t just the structure and sector that affected trust. Actions spoke too. For brands, over half (53%) of respondents stated they are more likely to choose a product from a company based on how the business acted during COVID-19. 

How an organisation acted during COVID-19 also affected young people’s preference for their choice of future workplace. Over three quarters (77%) of Gen-Z around the world will take into consideration how a business acted during COVID-19 when choosing a place to work. This percentage increases with age and the closer they are to entering the workforce, and also range widely from country to country – from 61% in France to 92% in China.

Andrew Missingham, co-founder of B+A commented: “On this evidence, the pandemic has made a nonsense of the distinction between “customers” and “employees”.  Brands need to remember that young people are both. Young people around the world have been paying attention to how brands have acted during the pandemic and how they’ve treated their staff, and, based on what they see, will choose who to buy from, or where to work in the future.” 

The findings were also compared to the UN’s Human Development Index, which defines well-being of a population defined by three measures: life expectancy, access to education, income per capita.

B+A found that regarding product, service or workplace choice, the findings and the UN’s Human Development Index were inversely correlated. The likelihood of choosing a product from a company (-.82) and choosing a place to work (-.72) have strong inverse correlations to the HDI based on how businesses acted during COVID-19. 

Ben Gallagher, co-founder of B+A, notes that, “The data is telling us that young people, living in countries with lower living standards and less government support are also looking for interventions and putting their trust in companies. This raises big challenges for the role of government in our lives. Whilst it’s easy to say the opportunity is for business to step in, perhaps the more important question to explore is how the relationship between business and government should evolve.”

Emerging stronger from the pandemic

Overall, 78% of respondents believe that the human race will emerge from this crisis stronger. Young people have also learnt valuable lessons too – most commonly patience and gratitude. 

However, this optimistic outlook varies depending on the number of COVID-19 deaths in each country. Using John Hopkins University data, B+A found that the COVID-19 deaths per one million people since the start of the pandemic by country has a strong decline (-.85) with the belief the human race will emerge from this crisis stronger. 

Missingham continued: The life and death outcomes of the pandemic that young people saw locally, against the backdrop of a global pandemic had a significant impact. The more deaths a country experienced, compared to what they saw in other places, the harder it is for Gen-Z to put faith into the human race emerging from the pandemic in a positive way. 

Beyond the pandemic itself, being exposed to such a high number of deaths has shifted the attitude of Gen-Z. Not just to institutions around them, but to themselves. Young people told us they have learnt fundamental core values of patience and gratitude. So it’s likely that they will carry these learnings with them through life and into their careers.  

Mental health and climate change

For the first time, young people now view mental health as the priority challenge to be addressed to protect their long-term future. In previous studies by B+A, climate change has always been the priority focus for young people, but this is no longer the case.

The emphasis placed on mental health is also strongly correlated to the severity of lockdown, and restrictions placed on people. The tighter the restrictions, and thus greater disruption to people’s lives, the greater emphasis Gen-Z place on mental health as being a priority issue to be addressed. 

However, Gen-Z are less believable that a priority focus on mental health would turn into action. A third (36%) cited mental health as the greatest issue the world needs to address to protect its long-term future, but less than 12% believe it will actually be addressed.  

Ben Gallagher, co-founder of B+A, added: “Mental health is clearly a priority for younger generations. But this does not mean the climate crisis goes away. What this really shows us is that issues that feel present and immediate become people’s priority. There is still an urgent need to tackle climate change, so how do we make it as pressing and important in people’s minds as mental health, so as a global community we tackle both as fast as we can.”