Page last updated at 00:03 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 01:03 UK

Public 'backs economic reforms'

By Steve Schifferes
Economics reporter, BBC News

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The recession has spread around the globe

A BBC World Service survey of 29,000 people has found broad support for reform of the international economic system ahead of the G20 summit.

More than 70% of people in 29 countries think major changes are needed in the way the global economy is run.

Nearly two thirds - 62% - of the public say the downturn has negatively affected them, and half say the downturn will last more than two years.

There is also broad support for reform of domestic economic policy.

The survey was conducted by GlobeScan along with the University of Maryland.

Slightly smaller majorities support global economic reform in the G20 countries, 15 of which were included in the BBC survey.

Support for reform

In G20 countries, 65% support major changes to the global economic system, and 62% support domestic reforms, compared with 68% who support domestic reforms in the sample as a whole.

See which countries support global reform

The findings suggest that the public will be prepared to back plans if agreed at the London summit for global economic co-ordination.

But the poll suggested that in four countries - Russia, Japan, Mexico and India - which are all in the G20, there is not majority support for major changes to the international economic order.

What kind of change?

The poll did not ask what sort of changes in the global economy the public wanted, but another poll carried out in the UK suggested that a high priority would be a global stimulus package that created jobs.


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However, support for global reform in the BBC poll among countries seems to be related to earlier scepticism about the benefits of globalisation - which was highest in European countries like Spain, Portugal, France and Germany when last polled in 2008.

However, both the US and UK, which had previously been less sceptical about globalisation, now have larger majorities in favour of change. But the US was notable for being one of the few countries where there was greater support for domestic economic change than international economic reform.

Developing countries, which had been more divided on the benefits of globalisation, were also more split on the need for international economic reform.

There were very large majorities wanting change in some of the poorest developing countries, such as Kenya and the Philippines, while some of the emerging market countries that had benefited from the global boom, such as India, Nigeria and Russia, were less keen on reform.

Who is hit hardest?

There is also evidence from the poll that the global downturn has hit developing countries hardest.

Worries about the downturn

Over half of those in Kenya, Egypt, the Philippines and Turkey say that they have been affected "a great deal" by the downturn, and about 40% in Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Ghana.

In contrast, only 3% of Germans say they have been hit "a great deal", and only 26% a fair amount.

The US has the largest number - 32% - of any rich country's citizens saying they have been as badly affected.

But people are more concerned about rising food prices than the downturn.

They are still of greatest concern in developing countries, with large majorities in Kenya, Egypt and the Philippines saying they are being affected "a great deal", even since the surge in global commodity prices has fallen back.

Graphs: effects of downturn

Overall, two in five people in the survey report that a shortage of credit for mortgages and other loans has personally affected them, with one in five saying it has affected them a great deal.

Again, the shortage of credit seems to be having a bigger effect on families in developing countries, while 29% in the US, 19% in the UK and 16% in Germany say it has personally affected them or their families.

GlobeScan interviewed 29,913 people in 29 countries between 24 November 2008 and 27 February 2009. In nine of the 29 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas.

The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.4% to 4.4%.

Countries affected by downturn

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