Edelman's annual "Trust Barometer" survey shows a record gap this year in trust between the informed publics and mass populations in many countries, driven by income inequality and divergent expectations of the future. The gap is the largest in the United States, followed by the UK, France and India.
"The consequence of this is populism - exemplified by Trump and Le Pen," Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, told Reuters, referring to French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose National Front has surged ahead of traditional parties in opinion polls.
The next wave of technological innovation, dubbed the fourth industrial revolution and a focus of the Davos meeting, threatens further social upheaval as many traditional jobs are lost to robots.
The Oxfam report suggests that global inequality has reached levels not seen in over a century.
Last year, the organisation has calculated, 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.5 billion people, or the bottom half of humanity. The wealth of those 62 people has risen 44 percent, or more than half a trillion dollars, over the past five years, while the wealth of the bottom half has fallen by over a trillion.
"Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate," the report says.
It points to a "global spider's web" of tax havens that ensures wealth stays out of reach of ordinary citizens and governments, citing a recent estimate that $7.6 trillion of individual wealth - more than the combined economies of Germany and the UK - is currently held offshore.
"It's a major wake-up call," said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors. "Inequality is one of the biggest threats to economic well-being and it needs to be addressed."
U.S. President Barack Obama touched on the issue in his recent State of the Union address, noting that technological change was reshaping the planet.
"It's change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate," he said.
"Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and face tougher competition...As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise. Companies have less loyalty to their communities. And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top."