Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Pervasive Gloom About the World Economy

Chapter 3. Reality Check

Perceptions Vs. Experience

The public’s retrospective perception of the economy is generally in line with economic experience. Seven-in-ten Chinese (70%) say they are better off than they were five years ago. And China experienced the fastest growth over the last half decade (averaging 10.5% annually from 2007 to 2011) among the 21 countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center. Similarly, 50% of Indians say they are better off and India averaged 8.1% growth over that period. More than seven-in-ten (72%) Brazilians say economic times are better now and Brazil averaged 4.2% growth over the last five years.

There is a strong correlation between recent economic experience and people’s perception of their current national economic situation. Nearly three-quarters of Germans (73%) are satisfied with how the Germany economy is doing, reflecting an International Monetary Fund report of 3.1% growth last year. Conversely, only 6% of the Spanish give a good grade to their economy, which grew by only 0.7% in 2011.

There is a similar pattern with expectations about the economy over the next 12 months. More than eight-in-ten Chinese (83%) think their economy is going to improve over the next year. And the International Monetary Fund agrees, projecting a robust 8.2% growth.

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