And mistrust take the hindmost: generalized trust in Denmark from 1990-2008

  • Morten Frederiksen
Keywords: Generalized trust, Denmark, Graphical modelling, Health, Education, Income


While most countries are experiencing stable or declining rates of generalized trust, this has not been the case in the Nordic countries, where levels of generalized trust have continued to increase. In the Danish case, trust increased by 50 per cent in the period from 1981 to 2008. This article investigates this puzzling development by testing the dominant socialization, status, and institutional theories on trust development. Using the Danish 1990, 1999, and 2008 waves of the European Values Study Denmark, the author employs graphical modelling in analysing the drivers of generalized trust increase in Denmark. Graphical modelling allows hierarchical structures of independent variables and is robust to thin cells, thus giving a more detailed picture than conventional regression techniques. The study shows that socialization has had little impact on the increasing level of generalized trust, whereas both individual achievement and the generally increasing levels of affluence and education are important drivers of the trust increase. However, since large parts of the population reaped the benefits of increasing levels of education and employment in Denmark during this period, this is not just a case of increasing trust, but also one of a diminishing low-trust minority excluded from partaking in this development.

Author Biography

Morten Frederiksen

Morten Frederiksen

Assistant Professor, PhD (Sociology, Copenhagen)

Center for Comparative Welfare Studies
Department of Political Science

Fibigerstræde 1

9220 Aalborg Ø

Phone: +45 28838062

How to Cite
Frederiksen, M. (2014). And mistrust take the hindmost: generalized trust in Denmark from 1990-2008. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 5.