In one more sign that the global economic and financial center of gravity is shifting East, a new survey by GlobeScan shows that the Chinese are more supportive of “free market” capitalism than Americans, who live in the so-called capital of free-wheeling market capitalsm.
That is remarkable given that China remains, at least nominally, a Communist country.
In the survey, respondents were asked if the “free market system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world.”
In China, 67% of respondents strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with that statement. In the U.S. the equivalent combined number was 59%. The U.S. number dropped 15 percentage points from a year-earlier survey and was down from 80% in 2002, when the first survey was taken by GlobeScan, a global research organization.
No doubt the financial crisis and resulting economic challenges of the last couple years took a toll on the U.S. scores, while China largely escaped a direct economic hit. China also had fewer naysayers — respondents who “somewhat disagree” or “strongly disagree” that a free market economy is best. In those categories China’s combined score was 19% versus 29% in the U.S.
GlobeScan also noted that “Americans with incomes below $20,000 were particularly likely to have lost faith in the free market over the past year, with their support dropping from 76% to 44% between 2009 and 2010.” Whatever patience Americans have shown for enduring recession appears to have been wearing thin by the time this survey was taken, between June and September of 2010.
Brazil also outscored the U.S. in its confidence in a free market economy, with 67% of respondents who “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that free market economies offer the best future – the same as in China. India’s scores were close to those of the U.S.
Other notable results for that measure include: Germany, 68%; Kenya 61%; the Philippines, 65%; and Italy, 61%. Just 31% of respondents from France agreed with those two statements and only 27% in Turkey. Japan clocked in at 47%.
Obviously China’s brand of “capitalism” – with heavy government planning and control – is far different that of the U.S. Still, for a country that not all that long ago was pushing some of its most educated citizens back to doing manual labor on a farm, this is a remarkable time.