In this perspectives brief, author Bruce Mallory discusses how trust in social, civic, and institutional structures is a necessary ingredient for a healthy democratic society. Erosion of trust in democratic societies has negative effects for individuals, communities, and public participation in political and civic matters. Data from surveys of New Hampshire residents as well as national samples over the past decade show declining levels of trust in social and political institutions. This has been exacerbated in recent years by the global pandemic as well as increasingly stark political and social divisions.

Drawing on resources such as the 2020 New Hampshire Civic Health Index, the Pew Research Center, and national surveys and polls, Mallory shares what we know about levels of trust and trends over time. He explores what the trends mean, what might be done to strengthen trust, and strategies that hold promise for nurturing trust in our society. The goal is to create the spaces and processes for active citizens to hear each other out and create feasible, multipartisan approaches to improving the well-being of communities and their diverse residents. He concludes, “This is a hard climb in the current climate to be sure, but is there any other choice?”


Carsey School of Public Policy

Publication Date

Summer 7-2-2024


Perspectives Brief


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



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