Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier.

I was listening to the Freakonomics podcast the other day and the topic was that low levels of social trust is bad for a society,  Interestingly but not surprisingly (for me anyway) Brazil ranked the lowest of all countries listed when it came to trust.  Low trust levels can be seen on a day to day basis here, from boss' not trusting staff to handle money, to people being scared to go into certain neighbourhoods, corrupt cops, laptop repair guys stealing the components of your laptop only to then tell you they were 'unable to fix the problem', spouses constantly worried that their partner is cheating on them and the common belief that the government is robbing the population blind.

I'm often told that I'm too trusting and I need to stop trusting people so much if I'm to survive here.  But the research shows if we all just trusted each other a little more we'd be better off. 

Seems like the mistrust is a result of decades of cheating, scamming, thieving and corruption.  I guess it's a bit of a 'chicken and egg' type situation. 

Is there anything that we can do to change the trend and make Brazil a trusting and therefore more prosperous society?

Here is a link to some of the research quoted in the podcast if any is interested. … ts-moving/

and a link to the podcast itself.

The lack of trust in Brazilian society goes very deep.  If you want to try to change the culture of your inner circle in Brazil, you might have some luck, but to try to change the culture of an entire nation of over 200 million people in your lifetime is definitely beyond your capability IMO.

I do have a circle of friends here in Brazil that have learned over the past 8 years that I am a trustworthy friend.  That has taken some effort and time on my part.  That circle probably includes maybe 20 - 30 people.

Then, a young family I know went on vacation recently and their house was robbed while they were away.  When they returned, everything was gone.  Clothing, electronics, kitchenware,, and anything even of small value that could be sold.  Of course whenever this happens, it's someone you trusted enough to inform them you would be away for some time.  It's happened to me a couple times in the U.S., and I know it's more common here where law enforcement doesn't care.

There are many factors involved, one of the most important being poverty.  Poverty is everywhere in Brazil, and it does drive crime.  The issue of dishonesty and criminal activity in Brazil starts at the top of the political ladder and permeates every niche of society all the way to the street beggar.

Personally, I do not see a solution to this issue in the big picture.

You nailed it!

Hi Travelr64,

Thanks for contributing to the discussion.  To be honest I don't actually think I'll be able to change the culture of 200 million, I'm an optimist but also somewhat of a realist :-P

I more just put that out there to try and provoke discussion and get other peoples thoughts on the matter.  It's all a bit of a viscous cycle though isn't it?  As in people lack trust in one another due to poverty (among other things) yet, this same lack of trust has negative economic effects on the country. 

I already have a small circle of friends here that I'd say I trust as much as anyone else in the world.  My general position is to trust everyone until they prove to me they can no longer be trusted, however I feel the vibe here is more; trust no-body until they prove they can be trusted.   

Do you think the mistrust is more; poor people not trusting rich people, rich people not trusting poor people, poor people not trusting other poor people, rich people not trusting other rich people?? or just nobody trusting anyone? 


Nawii, in my humble opinion the lack of trust affects pretty much everyone.  Top to bottom, one vs the other.  Of course there are groups of friends and families that have trust for each other, but outside of that sphere, I think everyone mistrusts everyone here.

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