Pew survey finds widespread dissatisfaction with economic performance

Dissatisfaction runs highest in the world's most advanced economies.

September 10, 2014   by The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON — The Great Recession officially ended more than five years ago. Yet the feeling of many people around the world can be summarized in one word: Gloom.

In a survey of 48,643 people in 44 countries, the Pew Research Centre found that 60% say their own country’s economy is performing poorly.

Dissatisfaction runs highest in the world’s most advanced economies, where 64% say conditions are bad. In the US, 58% give the American economy poor marks.

The deepest despair was recorded in countries hit hardest by the European debt crisis: 97% of Greeks, 96% of Italians and 93% of Spaniards said their economies were performing poorly. Unemployment rates are extraordinarily high in all three: 27% in Greece, 13% in Italy, 25% in Spain.

There are exceptions to the pervasive gloom: 89% of Chinese are positive about their country’s economy, even though it’s slowed markedly from the double-digit growth of a few years ago. In Vietnam, 87% of respondents gave the economy high marks. In Germany, 85% did.

In the countries that Pew characterizes as “emerging economies,” 59% said conditions were unsatisfactory. Only in low-income “developing economies” did a majority (51%) call economic conditions “good.”

Brazil has seen the steepest drop in economic confidence: Just 32% of Brazilians were positive about their economy, down from 59% in 2013.

Perceptions are improving in the United Kingdom: Last year, just 15% said the UK economy was in good shape. This year, the figure had jumped to 43%.

Eighty per cent of Chinese said their economy would be stronger in a year, making them the world’s most optimistic people. Just 15% of Japanese expected an improved economy next year, the lowest among the countries surveyed.

People in advanced economies ranked high levels of government debt as their biggest economic problem, followed by rising prices, a lack of jobs and the income gap between the rich and poor.

People in middle-income countries saw rising prices as their biggest problem. Those in low-income countries regarded a weak job market as their No. 1 problem.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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