In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, citizens' trust in their governments has declined all across Europe, and around the world. Denmark, however, stands out as a country where trust levels have increased. But why? This is the topic of this week's episode + an exploration into the country's remarkable high levels of trust between people.SpotifyApple Podcasts
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, citizens' trust in their governments has declined all across Europe, and around the world.
Denmark, however, stands out as a country where trust levels have increased.
This is the topic of this week's episode + an exploration into the country's remarkable high levels of trust between people.
and more broadly an exploration of "the trust dividend" that is felt from a society where the default setting is to trust one another.
The fact that (in general) the default position is to trust strangers is a central principle of Danish culture.
For people who have been in Denmark their whole life, this is one of those things that seems blindingly obvious: if my child is out playing and hurts themselves of course I believe that a stranger will help them out.
But for those new to the country, this can in fact be a bit of a culture shock.
If you come from a society where the default is that everyone is out for themselves then it can actually be naïve to assume other people will do the right thing.
As such, people learn that it pays to be selfish (pay the official to fast track your application; steal from a stranger's bag) in order to get by. If everyone does the selfish action, the value to "the greater good" diminishes, even if the individual benefits in the short term.
Denmark has been able to have a society where, on the whole, people act in a way that is good for the whole.
Doing so yields all sorts of benefits to the country:
As we discuss in the episode, trusting strangers is not without its downsides.
We share examples of Danes who trusted too much when in a "cheating" rather than "collaborative" environment, and also took about the risks (and responses) to people trusting the state/ each other too much.
A big thanks to our guests for this episode
Thanks to ECO Hotels for hosting us at Guldsmeden Hotel in Copenhagen.
Learn more about What The Denmark via @whatthedenmark on Instagram
The image is of a roadside stand on the Danish island of Bornholm where members of the public are trusted to pay for the items available. (Sam took the pic whilst on holiday there last year to show friends living in other countries)