Oil, Pharmaceutical, Health Insurance, and Tobacco Top The List Of Industries That People Think Should Be More Regulated

    New York, N.Y. – December 2, 2010 – A new Harris Poll finds that the oil, pharmaceutical, health insurance and tobacco industries top the list of industries that people believe should be more regulated. These industries, as well as the telecommunications and automobile industries, are the least likely to be thought of as honest and trustworthy. The telecommunications and managed care industries are the least trusted to handle personally identified information.

    On the positive side, few people say supermarkets, computer hardware and software companies, hospitals and online retailers should be more regulated.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,151 adults surveyed online between November 8 and 15, 2010 byHarris Interactive®.

    The main findings of this survey include:

    • When asked which of a list of 17 industries are generally honest and trustworthy, almost half (48%) of all adults say none of these which is the highest number giving this negative response since we first asked this question in 2003;
    • The industries that are trusted by the most people are supermarkets (29%), hospitals (29%), banks (20%) and electric and gas utilities (19%). The industries that are trusted by the fewest people are tobacco (2%), oil (4%), telecommunications (7%), and managed care companies (7%);
    • The industries that the largest numbers of people believe should be more regulated are oil (47%), pharmaceuticals (46%), health insurance (42%), tobacco (38%), banks (34%), and managed care (34%); and
    • Majorities of the public say that they have at least some trust in industries that handle personally identifiable information to do so in a confidential and secure manner, including banks (70%), hospitals (69%), life insurance (57%), health insurance (55%), online retailers (55%), software companies (54%) and pharmaceutical companies (53%). However, less than a quarter of all adults have a great deal of trust in any industry.

     

    Large changes over time

    There have been substantial changes in the ratings of some industries over the last few years as a result of major crises affecting them as well as changes in media coverage:

    • Trust in the honesty of banks fell sharply from 40% in 2004 to only 12% in 2009. This has recovered modestly to 20% this year. Those favoring more regulation of banks jumped from 17% in 2006 to 40% in 2009, and has now fallen back a little to 34% this year.
    • In 2003, fully 60% of adults wanted to see more regulation of managed care companies and 59% wanted to see more regulation of the health insurance industry. These numbers have fallen to 34% and 42% respectively – still high compared to most other industries but far better than they were.

     

    So what?

    Public attitudes to different industries are multi-facetted. For example banks get relatively good marks for handling confidential personal information and are more trusted than most other industries, but they are also high on the list of industries that people think should be more regulated. These attitudes can also change substantially if an industry is in crisis or receives a great deal of media publicity. And, these public attitudes matter a great deal. An industry with high negative ratings on criteria like these is more likely to be attacked by political leaders and the media and will therefore be more likely to be the target of regulatory or legislative action.

     

    TABLE 1

    INDUSTRIES THAT ARE GENERALLY HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY – TREND

    Which of these industries do you think are generally honest and trustworthy – so that you normally believe a statement by a company in that industry?

    Base: All U.S. adults

    2003

    2004

    2005

    2006

    2007

    2008

    2009

    2010

    CHANGES

    2000-

    2010

    2003-

    2010

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Supermarkets

    40

    42

    39

    34

    32

    30

    36

    29

    -7

    -11

    Hospitals

    34

    35

    34

    28

    28

    31

    28

    29

    +1

    -5

    Banks

    35

    40

    34

    31

    30

    21

    12

    20

    +8

    -15

    Electric and gas utilities

    n/a

    n/a

    14

    14

    15

    16

    16

    19

    +3

    n/a

    Computer hardware companies

    27

    29

    27

    20

    18

    17

    23

    16

    -7

    -11

    Computer software companies

    22

    25

    22

    23

    17

    16

    20

    15

    -5

    -7

    Airlines

    20

    22

    17

    16

    11

    11

    10

    12

    +2

    -8

    Online retailers

    n/a

    n/a

    16

    11

    10

    10

    16

    12

    -4

    n/a

    Packaged food companies

    23

    23

    21

    14

    12

    13

    16

    11

    -5

    -12

    Pharmaceutical and drug companies

    13

    14

    9

    7

    11

    10

    9

    11

    +2

    -2

    Life insurance companies

    11

    15

    10

    11

    10

    9

    10

    10

    -1

    Car manufacturers

    14

    18

    13

    9

    11

    10

    8

    8

    -6

    Health insurance companies

    7

    9

    9

    7

    7

    7

    7

    8

    +1

    +1

    Managed care companies such as HMOs

    4

    5

    5

    4

    5

    5

    5

    7

    +2

    +3

    Telephone/Telecommunication companies

    12

    13

    11

    10

    10

    9

    10

    7

    -3

    -5

    Oil Companies

    4

    4

    3

    3

    3

    4

    5

    4

    -1

    Tobacco companies

    3

    4

    4

    2

    3

    2

    3

    2

    -1

    -1

    None of these

    37

    32

    37

    40

    44

    44

    44

    48

    +4

    11

    Note: Multiple-response question; n/a = industry not asked about that year

     

    TABLE 2

    INDUSTRIES THAT SHOULD BE MORE REGULATED – TREND

    Which of these industries do you think should be more regulated by government – for example for health, safety or environmental reasons – than they are now?

    Base: All U.S. adults

    2003

    2004

    2005

    2006

    2007

    2008

    2009

    2010

    CHANGES

    2009-

    2010

    2003-

    2010

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Oil companies

    52

    48

    55

    54

    53

    53

    47

    47

    -5

    Pharmaceutical and drug companies

    57

    55

    51

    48

    53

    49

    47

    46

    -1

    -11

    Health insurance companies

    59

    56

    46

    48

    52

    49

    45

    42

    -3

    -17

    Tobacco companies

    44

    42

    36

    38

    41

    31

    33

    38

    +5

    -6

    Managed care companies such as HMOs

    60

    55

    43

    41

    45

    39

    36

    34

    -2

    -26

    Banks

    21

    20

    19

    17

    20

    36

    40

    34

    -6

    +13

    Electric and gas utilities

    n/a

    n/a

    43

    38

    41

    34

    32

    33

    +1

    n/a

    Airlines

    31

    27

    26

    21

    30

    23

    23

    27

    +4

    -4

    Life insurance companies

    35

    34

    26

    24

    28

    25

    27

    27

    -8

    Car manufacturers

    24

    24

    24

    19

    22

    16

    21

    26

    +5

    +2

    Hospitals

    35

    35

    28

    28

    33

    27

    25

    25

    -10

    Packaged food companies

    26

    24

    17

    19

    30

    20

    20

    24

    +4

    -2

    Telephone/Telecommunication companies

    30

    31

    26

    23

    25

    19

    20

    23

    +3

    -7

    Online retailers

    n/a

    n/a

    14

    13

    13

    9

    10

    12

    +2

    n/a

    Computer software companies

    11

    9

    8

    7

    9

    6

    6

    9

    +3

    -2

    Computer hardware companies

    8

    8

    7

    7

    9

    5

    5

    9

    +4

    +1

    Supermarkets

    10

    8

    6

    6

    9

    6

    5

    8

    +3

    -2

    None of these

    20

    20

    25

    23

    19

    22

    28

    30

    +2

    +10

    Note: Multiple-response question; n/a = industry not asked about that year

     

    TABLE 3

    TRUST WITH YOUR INFORMATION

    How much trust do you have in each of the following to handle your personally identified information (such as credit card information, contact information and so forth) in a properly confidential and secure manner?

    Base: All U.S. adults

    Trust

    (NET)

    A great deal of trust

    Some trust

    Do not trust (NET)

    Not much trust

    No trust at all

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Banks

    70

    22

    48

    30

    19

    11

    Hospitals

    69

    22

    47

    31

    21

    10

    Life insurance companies

    57

    13

    45

    43

    28

    15

    Health insurance companies

    55

    12

    43

    45

    28

    16

    Online retailers

    55

    7

    47

    45

    29

    16

    Computer software companies

    54

    6

    48

    46

    31

    15

    Pharmaceutical and drug companies

    53

    10

    43

    47

    30

    18

    Managed care companies such as HMOs

    50

    9

    41

    50

    32

    18

    Telecommunications companies

    45

    5

    39

    55

    35

    21

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States November 8 and 15, 2010 among 2,151 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    J39117

    Q905, 910, 915

    The Harris Poll ® #149, December 2, 2010

    By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive