2 June, 2019

Trust within Swedish society

Trust is the basis around which all human relationships evolve and an absolutely fundamental part of Swedish society.

Sweden is a country built on trust. They continuously top the charts as one of the most trusting countries in the world. And it was probably one of the biggest culture shocks for me when moving here.

My experiences

Coming from the South of England I certainly didn’t feel unsafe or concerned about crime. But I have also never experienced a feeling of security as I have in Sweden. When someone says something, they mean it. People are generally honest and truthful and so why wouldn’t you trust them?

When I asked for a job and a complete stranger said I could have one, I didn’t really put too much hope on there being a real job for me, yet there was. When we bought a car from a private seller, we transferred the cash, left the car and came to collect it the next day once the cash had cleared. There was absolutely nothing to stop that person keeping our money and selling the car to someone else. And yet they didn’t.

Trust within Sweden

The high levels of trust in Sweden might not be surprising. In global happiness reports, people who consider themselves to be happy also report high levels of trust in each other and their elected representatives. The Swedes score highly in several areas of trust – interpersonal, as well as trust in the police, legal system and in the political system.
And what a wonderful way to live. Free from looking over our shoulders, we can relax and feel secure.

Is it all set to change?

Sweden holds it’s position as one of the most trusting countries in the world. Of course, anyone moving here from a non-Scandinavian country will be coming from a less trusting society and culture. Within the last decade, the number of immigrants and refugees coming into the country has sky-rocketed. Generally, diversity has been shown to have a negative effect on trust.

However, whilst researchers have expected to see a big drop in levels of trust, so far this has not been reported. In fact, the trust continues to increase. Perhaps this could be a matter of time or using different measures of reporting, but for now, it’s good news.

It seems that those wonderfully trusting Swedes are opening their arms to the new members of their community. I have certainly felt very welcome in my time here.

Charlotte Garbutt
I am a foodie and feminist with a strong sense of adventure. I moved, with my husband and little black dog, to Skellefteå, Sweden from England in August 2018. I have since been eager to explore and learn more of the Swedish culture and language.