Today’s Chart: In God We Trust…, but is there any Trust in Politicians? United States performance, according to the Global Competitiveness Index

One of the many questions that are posed in the Executive Opinion Survey conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) is:

In your country, how do you rate the ethical standards of politicians? [1 = extremely low; 7 = extremely high]

This question is asked in order to assess what the business community thinks about politicians and how the status of public trust in politicians is. (Pillar 1: Institutions, Sub-pillar 1.04)

In the light of the approaching US elections (Tuesday, November 8th), it would be interesting to know how the US has been performing in this indicator vis-à-vis the rest of the world, wouldn’t it?

First, let’s take a look at the following chart.


  • At the end of the Bush Administration, public trust in politicians took a deep dive (a 10.8% fall from 2006-07 to 2007-08). A somehow comprehensible result, after the disclosure of misleading information that led to the Iraq War and the catastrophic events that came from the 2008 financial crisis.
  • In the first term of Barack Obama’s Administration, the rollercoaster of bad reputation in politicians continued, reaching its lowest rate of 3.13 in the 2012-2013 Survey; that is, a plunge of 16.4% in public trust in politicians since the 2006-2007 Survey.
  • However, according to this indicator, the Obama Administration has turned things around since then, and now, in the latest Survey of 2016-2017, public trust in politicians has reached its highest rate since 2006-2007 (3.86 vs. 3.74).
  • So, at least, the US politicians are revindicating themselves before the eyes of the business community surveyed by the WEF.

But how is the overall US performance in this indicator vis-à-vis the rest of the world?


  • In a nutshell, a lot has been done, yet a long way to go!
  • In 2016-2017, the US ranked 40th among 138 economies that participated in this report, lagging far behind Singapore, the world best performer since 2006-2007, and also key G7 partners such as Germany, UK, and Canada.
  • Even though, the US improved its rates from 3.74 in 2006-2007 to 3.86 in 2016-2017, yet in terms of world ranking is still lagging behind considerably from its previous 2006-2007 performance, namely, from 21st to 40th, respectively. Why? The Red Queen race is the answer! Other competitors have moved forward so rapidly that even when the US is bouncing back again, its relative velocity vis-à-vis these competitors has not been fast enough in order to reduce the gap of Public Trust in Politicians.

Autor: Félix González Sáenz



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