Every so often, I share polling data from other nations that is either encouraging or puzzling. Looking through the archives, here are some memorable examples.
*Americans are more libertarian than Europeans.
*On the other hand, the French support spending cuts by a 4-1 margin.
*More than 90 percent of Greeks and Italians see government as an obstacle to business.
*Nearly 70 percent of Labor voters in the United Kingdom would favor class-warfare tax policy even if tax revenues didn’t increase.
*People in 20 out of 21 nations preferred Obama over Romney.
*But Americans are more likely than anybody else to think there is too much red tape.
Some of those results make sense, while others were a big surprise.
But nothing was as surprising as the results we’re looking at today.
First, some background. According to Wikipedia, Vietnam “is one of the world’s four remaining single-party socialist states officially espousing communism.”
Yet according to a global public opinion survey from Pew Research, citizens of that communist nation are the world’s most pro-capitalist people. Asked to agree or disagree with the statement that people are better off in a free market economy, 95 percent of them chose capitalism.
And the nation with the third-highest level of support for capitalism is…drum roll please…China. So another communist-run nation has pro-capitalist citizens (as well as a few secretly capitalist officials).
Here’s a table with more amazing polling data showing the degree to which people in other countries support free markets.
The worst country, if you’re looking at overt support for free markets is Argentina. Only 33 percent of respondents agreed that a free market economy was best (gee, I’m shocked).
And Japan, Spain, and Jordan are the most anti-capitalist nations based on the share of respondents who disagreed with that notion.
Now let’s look at some more numbers. Here’s an equally fascinating table of polling data on which policies are seen as being most effective in lowering the gap between the rich and poor.
Who would have guessed that the Italians, Brazilians, and Ugandans would be most supportive of low taxes? Or that the Germans, Jordanians, and Salvadorans would be most in favor of high taxes?
The German results are particularly odd. They have very high support for free markets, while also supporting class-warfare taxation.
By the way, the people of the United States also are confused. They support free markets, yet they also give a plurality to class-warfare tax policy. We’re not as mixed up as the Germans, but it still doesn’t make sense.
But Americans kicked you-know-what in one part of the Pew Survey. In questions designed to measure the role of individual achievement, respondents from the United States were far more likely than most to demonstrate a belief in the work ethic and the spirit of upward mobility.
Though there are some anomalies in this data. The Venezuelans (62 percent) surpassed America on the top chart, for instance, and the Colombians and Argentinians (78 percent) beat America on the bottom chart.
For what it’s worth, I suspect the Swiss actually are the most sensible people.