UK one of most trusting countries when it comes to neighbours, survey suggests

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Trust among neighbours is high across the UK and people have become more comfortable living beside historically marginalised groups, a survey has suggested.

The findings of the latest in a series of research on the liberalisation of social attitudes shows the UK to have shifted more than many other countries – ranking it now among the most open of places across the large-scale study.

People have become more relaxed about living next to others from different backgrounds and of a different sexuality, the analysis by the Policy Institute at King’s College London (KCL) found as part of the long-running World Values Survey (WVS).

Similarly, while previously almost a quarter (23%) of the public said the same about people who have Aids, that figure has also now dropped to 4%.

Between 1981 and 2022, the share of the public who said they would not want to live next to immigrants or foreign workers has fallen from 13% to 5%.

Over the same period, the proportion who said they would not like to live next to people of a different race dropped from one in 10 (10%) to 1%.

Overall, the British public’s trust in their neighbours has risen from 78% in 2005 to 84% in 2022.

Of 24 countries, the UK is above the US at 72%, and behind only Egypt (86%), Sweden (89%) and Norway (90%).

Within the UK, Northern Ireland is the nation where people are most likely to trust those in their neighbourhood, at 90% compared to England (84%), Scotland (81%) and Wales (81%).

Professor Bobby Duffy, from KCL, said: “The UK public are highly trusting of the people in their neighbourhood and very comfortable being neighbours with a wide range of groups, compared with many other nations and our own past views.

“It seems absurd that as recently as 1990 nearly a third of people in the UK said they’d be uncomfortable with gay neighbours, but this is now down to just 4%, and reflects a wider rapid change of attitudes, shown in increased acceptance of people from different races and immigrants.

“These shifts have been seen in other countries too, but the UK has often shifted more than many others, putting us now among the most open countries in the study.”

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