Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

The World Is Losing Faith in Hard Work

By Bruce Stokes, Director of Pew Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center

Special to CNN

Add faith in the work ethic and in capitalism to the lengthening list of casualties from the Great Recession. Four years after the Lehman Brothers’ fiasco and the ensuing global economic downturn, the idea that effort in a competitive economy can lead to success is seriously questioned in a number of major economies, including Japan, Russia and Greece, especially among those who have suffered the most.

In eight of 21 countries recently surveyed by the Pew Research Center, fewer than half believe hard work is a guarantee of success for most people. And in 11 of the 16 nations for which there is trend data since 2007, before the financial crisis began, support for capitalism is down. A notable exception is the United States, where 77 percent of the public still thinks that effort leads to accomplishment and 67 percent have confidence in free markets.

With worries mounting about a double dip global recession, attention has rightly focused on the potential human cost of such a renewed slump. But the low levels of belief that work leads to economic success, especially in a competitive economy, could imperil the rebound from any economic slowdown.

Read the full commentary at CNN’s Global Public Square blog

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