What are the three least trustworthy professions

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Worldwide ranking: Trustworthy professions

March 2016

Major fires were his specialty: the US firefighter Paul Adair fought more than 2,000 fires around the globe until his death in 2004, including a gas well that had been burning for six months in the Algerian Sahara and 117 oil wells that went up in flames in the first Gulf War . His missions were so spectacular that they even provided the material for a film: In 1968, John Wayne played the fearless firefighter in "Hellfighter". At that time, Adair certainly did a lot for the positive image of its industry. But firefighters are still held in high esteem by the population today, and not just in the United States. In many parts of the world, people have a particularly high level of trust in them. And other helping professions can also look forward to a positive image.

They help us in emergencies, save lives and take care of others: In almost all of the countries examined, fire protection and medical professions such as paramedics, doctors and nurses achieve top marks. This is shown by the latest results from the “Trust in Professions 2015” study, for which the GfK Verein conducted more than 29,000 consumer interviews last autumn. People from 27 countries around the world were asked how much they trust 32 given professional groups. In order to be able to compare the results of the individual countries, the average confidence values ​​per country, globally and for Europe, were calculated, weighted according to the respective number of inhabitants.

Helping professions: internationally recognized

Firefighters are (unchanged from the last survey in 2014) - global leaders in trust. With the exception of Kenya and Nigeria, where firefighters can often do little due to the lack of equipment and infrastructure, at least 80 percent of people across the globe express high or very high trust in them. In many countries the values ​​are even over 90 percent. Other helping professions are also very popular with citizens: paramedics enjoy the greatest trust in the UK, Japan and Switzerland, doctors in Iran and South Africa, and in South Korea people mainly rely on nurses. In addition to the medical sector, education is also well represented in the ranking: Teachers also enjoy the highest level of trust in three countries - India, Indonesia and Turkey. Farmers are on the podium in Kenya, Nigeria and the Philippines. They are trusted by between 85 and 95 percent of the population there. In Kenya in particular, agriculture is the most important branch of the economy and secures the livelihood of many people. Although oil production is the most important industry in Nigeria, over 60 percent of Nigerians are employed in agriculture.

There is less agreement between the individual countries in terms of overall trust than when it comes to choosing particularly trustworthy job profiles: the average values ​​for all occupational groups examined here range from 55 to 82 percent. The highest level of trust is expressed in India and Indonesia with results around 80 percent. In contrast, Nigeria, Japan, Argentina and Brazil are at the bottom of the table: with overall confidence values ​​between 55 and 56 percent, they are almost on par at the end of the scale. In the Federal Republic of Germany, people give better marks of trust. With an overall value of 65 percent, the average trust in Germany ranks in the middle.

Banks: Europeans more skeptical than average

Whether we trust someone or not depends above all on our experiences and impressions that we collect in the course of our lives. And they vary from country to country and from continent to continent. The comparison between Europe and the world shows that in the minds of Europeans it is above all the financial crisis that is having an impact. Bankers, for example, have a global average of 67 percent and are thus in the middle of the field. In Europe, however, only 42 percent of those surveyed trust financial service providers - that's only enough for one of the lower places. When it comes to finances, the difference between Europe and the rest of the world is also the greatest. But Europeans are also more cautious than the global average towards other professional groups. Journalists, advertising professionals, but also insurance agents and entrepreneurs do significantly worse within European borders - the gap to the global level of trust in these professions is between 17 and 22 percentage points.

Police: Europeans trust above world level

But Europeans are not per se more skeptical. They trust some professional groups more than the respondents on other continents do. The differences compared to the police are the most significant: 71 percent of Europeans trust the law enforcement officers, the global average is 63 percent. Apart from these deviations, there are also numerous parallels between the European and global rankings. Firefighters secure themselves the top rank worldwide as well as within Europe, followed by nurses and nurses. All other professions that make it into the top 10 globally are also ahead in the European ranking, albeit in a slightly different order. There is also agreement on the end of the scale. Politicians are in last place everywhere: On average around the world, 30 percent of people trust them, in Europe it is even less, at 19 percent.

Germany: great trust in law enforcement officers and the judiciary

But what about the image of individual professional groups in this country? Who do Germans rely on most and who has worse cards in our country than in other countries? Above-average trust values ​​are enjoyed by all those who ensure law, order and security in the Federal Republic: lawyers, judges and police officers clearly achieve better marks than their colleagues in Europe or worldwide. The respondents also view drivers of public transport, who have to bring thousands of people safely to their destination safely to their destination, above-average positively. And almost everyone in this country relies heavily on medical staff. Paramedics in particular add a few percentage points in terms of image. Almost 96 percent of Germans trust them - and thus give the rescue workers an equal position as the fire fighters.

Services: IT industry with good values

The service sector in Germany has been growing for years: According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, the so-called third sector generates around 70 percent of the gross domestic product and creates three quarters of jobs (source: bmwi.de and statista.com). A record that is impressive. In terms of trust, however, certain professional groups still have some catching up to do. The Germans are more critical of dealers, advertising professionals and insurance agents than all respondents on average. Representatives of the media and entertainment sector are unlikely to be satisfied with their trust values ​​either: In a global comparison, German citizens are much more critical of journalists, TV presenters and actors than other nations. The difference is between 10 and 27 percentage points. And although many Germans certainly enjoy one or two football matches on TV or in the stadium, they have much less confidence in the professional players on the pitch than elsewhere. Confidence in the financial sector is also worse in Germany than is the case in other parts of the world. It is true that German citizens rate bankers as trustworthy as their European neighbors do, but in a global comparison the Federal Republic is well below the general level of trust. And last but not least, the German citizens struggle with their armed forces. They rely less on soldiers than other nations. But there is also a positive exception in the service industry: IT specialists in Germany can look forward to particularly good trust ratings: 59 percent think highly of the experts in computers and software; that is 14 percentage points more than in Europe and at least 9 points more than the global average.

But how can you succeed in gaining people's trust? Can a mediocre or even negative image be changed at all? There is no simple recipe for success - after all, every profession brings with it different challenges. But maybe it helps to recall a sentence by John F. Kennedy. He is supposed to have once said: “Those who tackle where the others speak first have a head start in life” - a sentence that certainly applies to firefighters and paramedics as well as police officers.


Data source: GfK Verein, study "Trust in Professions 2016"

Responsible for the article and contact person for questions about Compact: Claudia Gaspar (please email [email protected]).


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