Italians are not trustworthy for the simple reason that they do not trust one another. This means you would be wise not to trust Italians.
Italy’s official Statistics office, ISTAT, is a treasure trove of information on Italy. Amongst many other aspects of Italy, ISTAT also monitors levels of trust, and has been doing so since 2010. It seems Italians are not particularly trustworthy, or at least they don’t think they are.
Having been in Italy for many years, I’ve noticed the lack of trust which Italians exhibit towards one another. When you see the graphic I’ve created using ISTAT data, you’ll understand that what was my personal impression is justified.
The graphic below shows levels of trust for Italians aged 14 and above.
2013 data indicates that Italians in the Bolzano and Trentino Alto Adige areas in north Italy trust their fellow Italians more than the residents of Italy’s southern Puglia region. Just over 60% of Bolzano, Trentino Alto Adige residents believe Italians are not trustworthy, whereas 83.3% of Italy’s Puglia region think their countrymen and women are not to be trusted.
Why do the vast majority of Italians distrust each other so much?
That is a very difficult question to answer, though some Italians postulate that levels of distrust are low in Italy for historical reasons. Italy, as you may know, has been occupied by various nations, such as France, Austria and Spain. Not only this, but before Italy was united, various kingdoms existed. These kingdoms often conquered other areas of Italy and those who were conquered, quite naturally, distrusted their invaders.
Today, the conquests have, more or less, ended, but levels of distrust persist. The northerners distrust the southerners and vice versa, and you’ll even find enmity between different towns and cities in certain areas of Italy to this very day.
About the only common distrust shared by most Italians today is distrust in the nation’s politicians. A commonly held belief in Italy, and one I’ve heard over and over again, is that Italy’s politicians are little more than common thieves.
Perhaps Italy should work to increase levels of trust – this may lead to increased cooperation and to the creation of a more content society too.
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