Trust is considered instrumental for economic growth, successful operation of public institutions and social cohesion. We explore how public trust in Icelandic institutions has developed during the recent tumultous financial times, including the failure of the Icelandic banking sector. Using data from Gallup-Iceland’s annual survey of individuals’ trust in institutions, we show that trust in general, and particularly towards political and financial institutions, evaporates following the crisis year of 2008. Although trust varies significantly among different demographic groups, the trend shows how the road to recovering trust in Icelandic institutions post-crisis has proven to be challenging and drawn-out. Apart from law-enforcement agencies, which were relatively unscathed by the financial calamities, no institution has managed to escape the drop in trust, nor have they re-established the pre-crisis level of trust in the minds of the public nearly a decade after the crisis. A notable personal post-crisis exception is the recently elected President of Iceland who has managed to improve trust in his office by the highest margin of all 15 public offices and institutions examined.
When writing this chapter GuÐrún served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Arion Bank, Iceland. The authors are deeply thankful towards Gallup-Iceland for providing data and support for this chapter, and towards David L. Schwarzkopf, Katrin Olafsdóttir and Gylfi Zoega for helpful comments. Errors are the authors’ alone.
Johnsen, G. and Sigurgeirsdóttir, S. (2018), "Public Trust in Institutions in Pre- and Post-Crisis Iceland (I): Take the Lift Down, But Use the Stairs Up", Sigurjonsson, T.O., Schwarzkopf, D.L. and Bryant, M. (Ed.) The Return of Trust? Institutions and the Public after the Icelandic Financial Crisis, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 53-76. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78743-347-220181004Download as .RIS
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