Friday 10 October 2014 8:02 am

Developing countries are the most supportive of free markets

The free market system has suffered intense criticism in the years following the financial crisis.

Growing income inequality in the developed world and lacklustre growth have elicited much comment about the free market's failure to deliver sufficient rises in living standards.

However, despite the concerns over inequality and seemingly endless media commentary slamming capitalism as unjust and inefficient, majorities of people across the world believe most of their population are better off under capitalism, according to the Pew Research Global Attitudes Survey.

In the emerging economies, where the benefits of free markets are being seen more and more, over half of the of people in 21 of the 25 countries surveyed said inequality was a price worth paying for a free market system. Median support for capitalism reached a hefty 62 per cent in the emerging economies.

Some 28 years after the Socialist Republic of Vietnam implemented an agenda of market friendly reforms a whopping 95 per cent of the public expressed support for the free market.

However, there are signs that the 10 advanced economies examined by Pew are becoming somewhat more sceptical of the market order. Spain, Greece and Japan all had majorities rejecting the claim that the free market was the best way to make most people better off.

The Eurozone crisis has certainly hit support for capitalism in the mediterranean countries, with support in Italy declining by 16 percentage points between 2007 and 2014. In Spain, it declined by 22 points.

Over the same period, countries less hard hit by economic crisis such as Turkey and Indonesia saw a substantial rise in support for free markets.

However, the largest support for capitalism came from developing countries, with median support climbing to 71 per cent. Of the nine developing countries surveyed, support for capitalism was highest in Bangladesh at 80 per cent.

75 per cent of Ghanaians and 74 per cent of Kenyans believed capitalism was the system best suited to meeting the needs of most people.