“Trust – The Nordic Gold”


In 2018, the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania presented “Trust – Nordic Gold”, a review issued by the Policy Analysis Unit of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Secretariat. It is part of a report series that will aim to highlight current issues that are important from a Nordic perspective. This publication attracted a great number of readers and became the subject of public discussion.

The Nordic Council of Ministers Office initiated a number of public debates on social trust in Vilnius and Klaipėda.

Download “Trust – The Nordic Gold” (in English)

Download “Pasitikėjimas – Šiaurės šalių auksas” (in Lithuanian)

To watch “Nordic Talks” discussion on trust, press here.

The Nordic region has the highest levels of social trust in the world, which benefits the economy, individuals and society as a whole. This report discusses the background to why social trust has reached such high levels in the Nordic region, and why it is now under threat.

This report concerns trust or, more specifically, social trust, a subject that has attracted considerable research interest in recent decades. Trust is also a subject with a very strong Nordic foundation. The Nordic region is regarded as a world leader when it comes to social trust among its population. The extensive research literature in the field suggests that a high level of social trust is perhaps the most important resource for a society in both economic and other terms. Consequently, as the title of the report implies, trust can be regarded as a type of gold for the Nordic countries.

This report provides some background on how the Nordic region has succeeded in generating such high levels of trust. Briefly, it is the result of many societal processes, some extending far back into history while others are more modern. In this report, the focus lies on the historical role of voluntary associations in the Nordic societies, and on the function of the state. Well-functioning and fair societal institutions, an absence of corruption, and aspects of a general welfare state are of key significance for the level of trust. One special dimension considered is the relationship between associations and the state, which has been particularly important in the Nordic context.

The report also includes a discussion on the challenges facing social trust in the Nordic region. Although there are many tough challenges, the future of social trust in society is not determined by fate; in many ways, it lies in the hands of politicians and other decision-makers.