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Global Poll Shows Support for Increased Government Spending and Regulation

September 13, 2009

Full Report (PDF)

Majorities around the world support governments playing an active role in stimulating and regulating their national economy in response to the current recession, according to a new poll across 20 countries conducted for BBC World Service.

The survey of more than 22,000 people, conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA, found that an average of three in five (60%) citizens--and majorities in 13 of the 20 countries polled--support 'significantly increasing government spending to stimulate the economy'. Support is especially strong for investments in renewable energy and green technology (72%) and giving financial support to major industries and companies in trouble (62%).

Large numbers (67% overall) also want to see an increase in 'government regulation and oversight of the national economy'. Among the major economies, this support was highest in China (94% support) and lowest in the US (50%) and Japan (38%).

The US government's efforts to address the crisis, which have included far-reaching measures to stimulate the US economy, are being relatively well-received around the world. Nearly half (46%) of all respondents say they are satisfied with what the US has been doing, compared to 39% who are dissatisfied.

In comparison, 44% on average are satisfied with their own government's response, 36% are satisfied with the actions of the World Bank and IMF, 32% with executives of major banks and 31% with the government of China. Overall people in developed countries show lower levels of satisfaction with all of these groups than do people in developing countries.

People's satisfaction with their own government's response varies greatly from country to country. Most express satisfaction in Australia (68%), Egypt (63%), Brazil (59%), Canada (57%), and Indonesia (57%). However, satisfaction is low in France (27%), Mexico (9%), Japan (18%), and the Philippines (24%). Americans are evenly split between those happy and those unhappy with their government's response.

The results are drawn from a survey of 22,158 adult citizens across 20 countries, conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between 19 June and 17 August, 2009.

GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller comments, "It is clear that citizens in many countries are still not seeing the kind of economic leadership they think is needed from their national government. Particularly low levels of satisfaction in Europe, Japan and Latin America suggest that stronger consumer confidence--seen as essential for economic recovery--will take more time in these parts of the world."

Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, "People around the world are looking for a dynamic approach to the economic crisis and are giving relatively good marks to the active efforts of the Obama administration."

Participating Countries

Note: In Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, Mexico, the Philippines, and Turkey urban samples were used. Please see the Methodology for further details.

Detailed Findings

While large majorities approve of the government actively seeking to stimulate the economy in general, more modest numbers support giving financial support to banks in trouble (51%). This may be related to the low level of confidence in executives of major banks - an average of just 32% were satisfied with what they were doing to address the crisis.

Support for government stimulus of the economy is highest in Nigeria (87% support), Egypt (83%), and Russia (81%). By contrast, in France (39% support) and Germany (42%)--where government spending is already relatively high by international standards--support for further increases in public spending to stimulate the economy is much lower.

Also, while support for government regulation of national economies is robust, more modest numbers support giving international institutions more power to regulate the global economy (49%). In some key developing economies--Mexico (22% support), the Philippines and Turkey (both 33%)--backing for a more active role for institutions like the World Bank and the IMF in regulating the global economy is particularly limited.

The poll also shows that most people continue to feel that the benefits and burdens of economic development over recent years have not been shared fairly in their country. Nearly three in five (59%) of those polled hold this view, and they are in the majority in 15 out of 20 countries. Among the countries most dissatisfied with economic fairness are France (84% dissatisfied), Russia (77%), Turkey (77%), and Germany (76%).

In total 22,158 citizens in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between 19 June and 17 August, 2009. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In 7 of the 20 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/-2.2 to 4.8 percent, 19 times out of 20.

For more details, see the full report (PDF).


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