Germans Trust the Helping Professions

03. March 2016

The GfK Verein publishes the findings from its “Trust in Professions Report 2016.” 

Nuremberg, Germany, March 3, 2016 – Germans trust firefighters and paramedics most, politicians least. Despite the recent Dieselgate scandal, engineers and technicians have experienced the largest increase in public confidence. These are just some of the findings from the current study “Trust in Professions” conducted by the GfK Verein, which surveyed Germans as to which professions they trusted.

For all professions, German trust hovers at 65 percent – which puts them in the middle of the pack when compared to other nations. Germans place most of their trust in the helping professions. As such, firefighters, paramedics (each at 96 percent) and the nursing profession (95 percent) are at the top of the list, followed by pharmacists (90 percent) and doctors, as well as train operators, bus drivers and subway and trolley operators (each at 89 percent). German trust in these professions has remained unchanged in comparison to the last study in 2014, in which they also received similarly high marks.

Pilots have lost a bit of public confidence. With an approval rating of 87 percent, they have seen a four-point loss in comparison to the 2014 study and have fallen from fourth place to seventh place in the German ranking. These findings still place them among the most widely trusted professions in Germany. Pilot strikes and the March 2015 airplane crash deliberately caused by the actions of a German pilot have only slightly damaged the profession’s reputation.

Engineers and technicians have posted the largest increase in public confidence in Germany. With an increase of six percentage points, they are currently trusted by 86 percent of the respondents. This has allowed them to move up from tenth to eighth place in the ranking. Apparently, the Volkswagen Dieselgate debacle has not eroded German confidence in the engineering profession as their numbers before and after the revelation have remained essentially unchanged. “Germans still have confidence in their engineering professions, whose work contributes greatly to Germany’s export economy. An emissions scandal in one company in one branch cannot destroy this trust,” says Raimund Wildner, Managing Director at GfK Verein.

Compared to 2014, entrepreneurs also enjoy a somewhat higher level of trust, but at 54 percent, they are still lingering at the lower end of the ranking. Even bankers appear to be regaining some of the trust they had lost. In the last 24 months, the share of respondents who trust bankers has risen from 39 to 43 percent. 

Politicians remain at the bottom

The least trusted professions in the ranking include advertising professionals (27 percent) and insurance salesmen at 22 percent. Just as they were two years ago, politicians are stuck at the bottom of the list. Only 14 percent of the respondents trust them, a figure that has remained practically unchanged. At a local level, however, the work of politicians has a more favorable rating. Confidence in mayors has increased by four percentage points to 59 percent when compared to 2014. At 53 percent, confidence in mayors in the those German states that make up former East Germany is, in fact, a bit more subdued than in the West (61 percent) but was nonetheless able to tick up a few notches.

About the study

These findings have been taken from GfK Verein’s “Trust in Professions Report 2016.” This study, the second of its kind, was conducted in fall 2015. 1,000 respondents (age 14 and above) were surveyed between September 4 and 11, and an additional 1,000 respondents (age 14 and above) were surveyed between September 18 and 25. The study was conducted in 26 other countries. The most important findings were also published as a press release in spring 2016. This study is based on surveying confidence in 32 professions using a scale ranging from “trust completely” to “trust essentially” and “trust less” to “do not trust at all.” 

About the GfK Verein

The GfK Verein was established in 1934 as a non-profit organization for the promotion of market research. Its membership consists of approximately 550 companies and individuals. The purpose of the Verein is to develop innovative research methods in close cooperation with academic institutions, to promote the training and further education of market researchers, to observe the structures and developments in society, the economy and politics that play a key role in private consumption, and to research their effects on consumers. Survey results are made available to the membership free of charge. The GfK Verein is a shareholder in GfK SE.
Further information: www.gfk-verein.org.
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