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Social Climate

Attitudes toward government (1)

/ 05:16 AM April 14, 2018

This piece is the first of a series comparing the attitudes toward the government of Filipinos (PH), Thais (TH), Taiwanese (TW), South Koreans (SK), Japanese (JP) and Americans (US), based on the 2016 Role of Government national surveys of the International Social Survey Program (ISSP, www.issp.org).

ISSP is an independent, democratically organized, network of over 40 institutes worldwide that jointly conduct an annual social survey, on a mutually agreed topic, with a common questionnaire, expressly for cross-country comparison. Social Weather Stations, the Philippine member of ISSP since 1990, has conducted 27 such surveys to date. The one discussed here was fielded on March 16-20, 2016.

SWS recently received its copy of the global collection of 2016 ISSP Role of Government surveys. The series looks at the Asian countries, plus the US.

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Having a say in what government does. Item Q16a shows that Filipinos are evenly divided between those feeling that the government pays attention to them and those feeling that it does not.

It is a very old survey item, that has always been phrased negatively. Americans and Taiwanese tend to affirm, whereas Japanese, Thais, and South Koreans tend to deny, that their government disregards their views. We Filipinos are equally on both sides.

PH TH TW SK JP US
Q16a. “People like
me have no say
about what
government does”
(% Net Agree) -6 -37 +33 -17 -48 +17

PH TH TW SK JP US
Q8a. “Most civil
servants can be
trusted” (% Net
Agree) +36 -10 +1 -36 -34 +26

Trusting civil servants. Filipinos are relatively the most trusting, followed by Americans. South Koreans and Japanese are the opposite. Thais and Taiwanese are in-between.

PH TH TW SK JP US
Q9a. “Media: the
institution with
the most influence
on government
actions” (%) 56 11 36 38 25 18

Perceiving the role of media. From a list of 10 institutions, an outright majority of Filipinos point to the media as the most influential. The media are also the most influential to Taiwanese, South Koreans, and Japanese. “Business, banks and industry” are most influential for Thais and Americans; they are second most influential for Filipinos (note: the figures refer to the media only).

Perceiving corruption in government. Seven of ten Filipinos and South Koreans see “quite a lot” or “almost all” politicians as involved in corruption. Among Thais, Taiwanese and Americans, the proportion is only 4 of 10 (see Q20).

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In all countries, the perceived corrupt public officials are fewer than the perceived corrupt politicians. But the differences are not as large in the Philippines, Thailand and the United States, as in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan (see Q21).

PH TH TW SK JP US
Q20. “Quite a lot/
almost all politicians
are involved in
corruption” (%) 71 43 39 72 32 41
Q21. “Quite a lot/
almost all public
officials are involved
in corruption” (%) 67 38 17 44 17 33
Q22. “Public officials
never/seldom asked
me/my family for a
bribe in the past 5
years” (%) 69 58 84 94 80 92

Encountering corrupt officials. Yet, in all countries, most people rarely encounter corruption personally—6 of 10 Thais, 7 of 10 Filipinos, 8 of 10 Taiwanese and Japanese, and 9 of 10 South Koreans and Americans (see Q22). Obviously, opinions depend heavily on media reports; the media have a heavy social responsibility to be accurate.

Contact mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph.

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