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Global economic mood gloomy: survey

July 13, 2012


Data source: Pew Research Centre / Murtaza Haider.

NEW YORK: The economic mood is exceedingly glum around the world. And 21 countries, including Pakistan, surveyed by the Pew Research Centre’s Global Attitudes Project, a median of just 27 per cent think their national economy is doing well.

The contrast in economic outlook between four of the emerging markets — Brazil, China, India and Turkey — surveyed and the EU and US is striking. People living in emerging economies generally are more likely than Americans or Europeans to say they are doing better than their parents.

They also are more upbeat than Americans and Europeans on whether they think economic conditions in their countries are good, on whether they are financially better off compared with five years ago, and about the future of their children.

Despite economic downturn and governance crisis, the survey revealed 81 per cent of people polled in Pakistan said they believed if they worked hard they could succeed.

The survey said half or more in 13 of the 21 nations surveyed believe that most people can succeed if they are willing to work hard.

This includes Pakistan (81 per cent) and the US (77 per cent ). It also includes Tunisia (73 per cent), Brazil (69 per cent), India (67 per cent) and Mexico (65 per cent).

Among those who feel the most satisfied about their own economic well-being include Brazilians (75 per cent), Germans (74 per cent) and Chinese (69 per cent).

If there was any doubt that a college education pays off: in 15 nations, people with a college degree were more satisfied with their economic situation than were those who did not have a college education.

Nevertheless, the global economic crisis has exacted a heavy toll on some people’s perception of their personal economic situation. In five of the 15 nations where there is comparable data, people’s sense of their own finances has deteriorated to a significant degree since 2008, especially in Pakistan (down 19 points), Poland (down 18 points) and Spain (down 11 points).

The greatest improvements in awareness of individual economic wellbeing since 2008 have been in Turkey (up 20 points) and Germany (up seven points).

But the survey said faith in the work ethic is particularly weak in Lebanon, where only 32 per cent of the public anticipates rewards from hard work, and in Russia (35 per cent), Japan (40 per cent), Italy (43 per cent) and Greece (43 per cent), all countries that have suffered greatly from the recent economic downturn.

There is also little confidence in hard work in China (45 per cent), despite the fact that it has economically outperformed every country in this Global Attitudes survey.

However, the survey said despite their gloom about their current economic situation and their pessimism about their children’s prospects, people generally believe that they are better off than their parents.

Majorities in 14 of the 21 countries and pluralities in three more think they are doing better than the previous generation.

Those most pleased with how far they have come economically are the Chinese (92 per cent) and the Brazilians (81 per cent). Even 71 per cent of the Spanish, whose economic mood is among the worst in the world, whose economic confidence has fallen more than any other country in the wake of the global downturn and who are among the most pessimistic about prospects for the next generation, still recognise they have come a long way.