First, the home front. The following graph shows the percentage of GSS respondents saying that "most people can be trusted" (as opposed to "you can't be too careful in life"):
The always present year-to-year random fluctuations are present, but the trend is clearly downward. Despite all the happy talk about diversity, multiculturalism, a global world, and the like, as the US increasingly sees its dichotomous white-majority, black-minority demography replaced by a demographic composition that serves as a microcosm of the entire globe, the levels of trust people have for others continues its steady decline.
What about the other 95% of humanity? The World Values Survey is the best place to turn. The WVS began in 1981, but prior to 1990, it would be more aptly named The Free, First-World Values Survey. So it is during the twilight of the Soviet Union where we begin, and the years just in front of the 'Great Recession' where we end.
The following table shows the percentages of respondents, by country among the 27 that participated both times, who said most people can be trusted in 1990 and during the period of 2005-2008. The last column (by which the table is organized) shows the change in societal levels of trust during that nearly two decade period of time:
|14. South Korea||34.2||28.2||(6.0)|
|16. The Netherlands||53.1||45.0||(8.1)|
|18. South Africa||28.3||18.8||(9.5)|
|23. United States||51.5||39.3||(12.2)|
|25. Great Britain||43.6||30.5||(13.1)|
A handful of mostly homogeneous, non-Anglophone Western European countries show increases. Everywhere else, declines in trust levels is the norm. I suspect that current trust levels are considerably lower than they were even 3-6 years ago, when the economic outlook conventionally appeared far more favorable than it does today.
I hear Dave Matthews singing, "Don't trust me, trust yourself".
GSS variables used: TRUST, YEAR