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Millennials' Trust in Public Institutions "Historically Low"

Millennials have the most serious trust issues with Wall Street and the media.

| BY Donald Liebenson

Millennials, it seems, have picked up at least one thing from Baby Boomers: the “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” generation. A recent Harvard University’s Institute of Politics poll found “historically low” levels of trust in a variety of major public institutions, including the executive branch, the military, Congress, the Supreme Court and the federal government as a whole.

Compared to one year ago, the level of trust that Millennials ages 18-29-years old have in most American institutions “has dissipated compared even to last year’s historically low numbers,” the report states. Every institution on the Composite Trust Index posted readings under 50 percent.

The poll asked Millennials how often they trust a specific institution to do the right thing all or most of the time. Thirty-two percent said they trusted the president to act accordingly, down from 39 percent last year. Similarly, 14 percent of respondents said they trusted members of Congress to do the right thing all or most of the time, down from 18 percent.

Also down was trust in the U.S. military (47 percent vs. 54 percent), the Supreme Court (36 percent vs. 40 percent).

Trust issues were basically unchanged toward the United Nations (34 percent), local government (34 percent vs. 33 percent), state government (28 percent vs. 30 percent) and the federal government as a whole (20 percent vs. 22 percent).

Millennials have serious trust issues with Wall Street and the media. Only 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively, trust these institutions to do the right thing all or most of the time. On a positive note, these readings are unchanged from last year.

Other negative attitudes toward public institutions are on the rise amongst Millennials, the poll found. Six-in-ten agreed “strongly or somewhat” that elected officials seem to be motivated by selfish reasons, up from 59 percent last year and 54 percent in 2010.

Thirty-two percent said that they agree that running for office is an honorable thing to do, down from 35 percent last year. Almost half (49 percent)  believe that politics has become too partisan, while 58 percent of Millennials agree strongly or somewhat that elected officials don’t seem to share the same priorities. This is up from 56 percent last year and 51 percent four years ago.

Related story: U.S. postal service fails to deliver for Millennals

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.