The U.S. military remains among the most trusted public institutions in America but commands more respect among older generations than younger ones, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center released Monday.
Researchers said their findings as a whole showed serious concerns among Americans in their public institutions. In interviews with more than 10,000 Americans conducted late last year, the center found that 69 percent believe the government intentionally withholds important information from the public that it could safely release, and 75 percent said federal agencies do not deserve any more public confidence than they current have.
The armed forces are one of the exceptions. In the survey, 83 percent of all respondents said they have confidence in the military “to act in the best interests of the public,” tied with scientists for the most of any group or institution listed.
Police officers received a 78 percent confidence rating. For journalists, it was 55 percent. Elected officials were among the lowest in the survey, at 37 percent.
Public faith in the military is even higher in older generations — about 91 percent of those 50 or older said they have confidence in the institution — but was sharply lower among adults age 18 to 29.
Only 69 percent of those younger respondents expressed confidence in the military — still a majority of the group, but less than the level for public school principals (75 percent) and college professors (74 percent).
The survey also showed higher rates of confidence in the military among Republicans (91 percent) than Democrats (76 percent).
Among all individuals surveyed, about 39 percent said that a lack of confidence in government institutions makes it more difficult to find solutions to challenges like immigration, health care and racial strife. Only about 3 percent said that national security issues are hurt by the lack of faith in government.
The full survey is available on the Pew Research Center website.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.