Months into lockdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s becoming clear that this situation has us all spending our days in much the same ways. We’re walking aimlessly through our cities, spending inordinate amounts of time on Netflix and social media, and attempting to stay sane with whomever we’re quarantined.

While the pandemic day-to-day may be similar for individuals across the globe, the way we feel about it, how much we worry and the level of trust we place in the institutions attempting to protect us, differs widely. 

In mid-March, 69% of consumers expected the coronavirus outbreak to last 3 months or less in their own countries.

As lockdown measures have gone on for longer than anyone could anticipate, we sought out to understand consumer approval of responses to COVID-19 by major institutions throughout this time. It’s reassuring to see that overall trust in many groups and institutions has remained high, and relatively steady.

For the most part, people are quite proud of how their own populations have reacted. Nearly every nation has an increasingly favorable attitude toward their own handling of the virus, most notably in Europe where the virus has hit hardest in the past few months.

Increase in approval of public response to the coronavirus

% change in respondents who said they approve of their populations handling of the coronavirus from March 20th – April 27th.

Australia93%
Brazil22%
China2%
France36%
Germany42%
Italy29%
Philippines-10%
Singapore-8%
Spain9%
UK69%
USA-3%

Source: GlobalWebIndex Coronavirus Multi-Market Study wave 1 fielded March 16-20; and wave 3 fielded April 22-27 Question:
How much do you approve / disapprove of how the following have handled the coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak so far? Your country’s population. Base: 11,234 internet users aged 16-64 

“Trust in the system” links governments and corporations 

This sense of camaraderie extends beyond individuals. About three quarters of all consumers currently approve of the responses from large corporations and governments, while just over 6 in 10 approve of the responses from social media companies

Approval ranking for banks and financial institutions is also above 60%, but this number has fallen nearly 10% in the first three weeks of April alone, driven mainly by declines in Europe (-30%)* and the USA (-17%), which reveals potential cracks in consumer confidence as the situation continues far beyond where consumers initially expected.

In most cases, we’re seeing endorsement of large corporations and governments rise and fall together, as consumers gain or lose trust in “the system” overall. For instance, in the US, France, Spain, and Italy approval of the governments and large companies have all decreased by up to 35%. 

While overall approval of these institutions is high, the coronavirus and accompanying economic restrictions affects everyone differently. We are finding that not only is institutional trust different from one nation to another, but it also varies widely within each country. 

Economic circumstances affect our feelings toward institutions 

When looking at approval of these organizations more closely, we found that employment status and living arrangements were huge drivers of institutional trust. The economic stability granted by a full time job, and the increased opportunities of urban living make for more approving citizens. 

Part-time workers, bearing the brunt of the economic shutdowns, are more reliant than ever on unemployment benefits and corporate handouts. It’s no surprise then that they are some of the most disapproving of the institutions in charge.

Nearly 25% disapprove of how their country’s government and their country’s population has handled the crisis, compared to about 14% of full-time workers. They’re also 30% more likely than full-time workers to disapprove of the response banks have taken. 

We’re seeing a similar situation when we compare rural residents to urban ones. As the virus spread outward from cities, rural communities are the new frontlines for the virus and individuals here are the most dissatisfied overall. 

Rural communities are more disapproving of the COVID-19 response of large corporations, banks, social media companies, large corporations, and their own populations compared to their urban counterparts. 

Throughout the pandemic, institutional trust has remained high, but as we continue further into 2020, this trust isn’t guaranteed. As more groups become negatively affected – physically and economically – these institutions will need to do more to protect their most vulnerable citizens.

Government stimulus packages, loan deferments from banks, and most importantly a continued shared purpose among a nation’s population will go a long way in beating the virus. 

*Average of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland and the UK.

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