The steady rise of income inequality across the globe has led to a significant boost in the trust gap between the haves and have nots in Asia-Pacific, according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2016.
The report, which had a total of 33,000 global respondents, found that the trust disparity between the informed pubic and general population was at its widest ever globally, with the largest divides in India and Australia, both with 16 point differentials.
Income inequality is the main driver of this growing ‘trust gap’, the report finds, particularly in APAC.
India has the highest trust disparity – 22 points – between high-income and low-income earners, followed by Singapore and Japan both on 17 points.
Future expectations among the general population have also shrunk, with 31 percent of Australians and 15 of Japanese believing they will be worse off in five years’ time.
"We are now observing the inequality of trust around the world," said Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman. "This brings a number of potential consequences including the rise of populist politicians, the blocking of innovation and the onset of protectionism and nativism."
Despite these figures, the news for brands in APAC is encouraging. Of the nine APAC countries surveyed, eight saw a hike in trust of business. It is highest in Indonesia with 71 percent, followed by China with 70 percent and then India with 69 percent.
APAC citizens are also more trusting of CEOs as companies continue to enhance their CSR efforts. This rose in tandem with employee trust of where they work, which was high generally across the region.
Japan has the least trusting employees in Asia-Pacific with 40 percent, while India and China has the most trusting with 83 percent and 79 percent respectively.
David Brain, president & CEO of Edelman APACMEA, said: "Asia and the Middle East continue to be the ‘trusting regions’ globally."
Indeed, in the report’s national league table of trust, the top six countries are all developing economies, with five of them from APACMEA.
"This is true of both the informed public and general population. As always, if an economy is improving, people tend to confer trust on the institutions they believe are responsible for that," Brain added.
Other institutions that saw trust increases in APAC were NGOs and the media.
For NGOs, the biggest regional leap was in China, where trust rose 17 percent, while for media the largest gain was in Malayisia, which saw a 13 percent jump.
However, despite trust in business and CEOs rising, companies headquartered in developing markets are still less trusted than those in developed markets, with China and India the least trusted in APAC.