UK more trusted than the US where it matters

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Research commissioned by the British Council has found that the people of the UK are more trusted than the US in countries that matter most to our future prosperity and security. The UK also compares well with Germany in the trust stakes, with the people of the UK more trusted in two key economies.

The research, carried out by Ipsos MORI and YouGov, was commissioned to measure the levels of trust towards the UK among more than 10,000 young adults (18-34), educated to at least secondary level, in 10 countries of strategic importance to the UK’s future. The UK’s people are significantly more trusted than the US in 8 out of 10 of the countries surveyed – including three of the four BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia and China). And the UK is more trusted than Germany in key countries such as Brazil and India, the research shows. 

The research gauges the impact of cultural interaction on trust in the UK, and looks at how trust makes the UK more attractive as a location for business, study and tourism.   

One of the factors associated with high levels of trust is whether people around the world have had the opportunity to experience cultural links with the UK, the findings make clear. These include learning English, studying in the UK or experiencing UK arts and culture.  In all countries surveyed, trust is higher amongst those who have had a cultural interaction and this increase in trust is particularly marked in Pakistan, Russia and Turkey. 

Those who said they trust the people of the UK are between 9  and 29 percentage points more likely to say they are interested in opportunities to do business with the UK than those who distrust the UK, according to the findings. The increase was greatest in Russia (29 percentage points), Poland (28 percentage points) and India (24 percentage points). 

The British Council commissioned the research as part of the evaluation of its work for the UK in English, education and the arts in over 100 countries. Of the countries surveyed, trust in the UK was highest in Brazil, followed closely by Spain, Thailand, China, India and Russia.  

Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council, said:  “The UK is better trusted by young people who have had cultural or educational contact with the UK.  In a nutshell, the people who know us like us – and the people who like us, trust us.  Trust between countries is an invaluable asset that brings business, investment and security benefits and increases our attractiveness as a global partner.  2012 is the year to recognise that our heritage, our language, our universities and our vibrant cultural sector all contribute to the UK being more trusted around the world.“

The report will be launched at an event in London on May 22nd, featuring speakers including Sir Roger Carr, President of the CBI.

Sir Roger Carr said: “The main way the UK will get out of the economic doldrums is through improving international trade. What’s clear from asking over 10,000 young people in ten countries is that trust is closely associated with good cultural and educational links to the UK.  As a nation we need to do even more to foster these ties if we are to support business in rebalancing the economy towards exports.”

For more information, contact Mark Moulding in the British Council Press Office on +44 (0)207 389 4889 or mark.moulding@britishcouncil.org

Notes to Editor

The research is based on responses from online panellists in: China, India, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Thailand, Spain, Turkey and Russia, and face-to-face interviews in Pakistan.  Respondents are aged 18-34, with a minimum of secondary level education and were asked whether they had taken part in a list of cultural activities that involve interaction with the UK.  

Data are weighted on an estimated level of cultural interaction with the UK derived from the incidence of cultural interaction in each panel. 

Ipsos MORI online fieldwork (Brazil, Thailand, Spain, Turkey, Russia) was conducted between 6 September and 5 October 2011. In Pakistan fieldwork was conducted face-to-face between 23 November and 14 December 2011. 

YouGov fieldwork (China, India, Poland, Saudi Arabia) was conducted in March 2010.  

About the British Council

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. 

Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. 

We earn over 75% of our annual turnover of nearly £700 million from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for and from partnerships. A UK Government grant provides the remaining 25%.  We match every £1 of core public funding with over £3 earned in pursuit of our charitable purpose.  

For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org. You can also keep in touch with the British Council through http://twitter.com/britishcouncil and http://blog.britishcouncil.org/.