Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

A New Iron Curtain?

Punctuated by comments at a recent European Union summit, many have begun to worry about the political stability of Eastern Europe, which has been devastated by the global economic crisis. While support for the free-market system has been on the rise in Eastern Europe, among the seven major world regions included in a 2007 study support for free markets was lowest in Eastern Europe (56%) and Latin America (55%). Across the six Eastern European countries surveyed — Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine — a median of 56% agreed with the statement, “Most people are better off in a free market economy, even though some people are rich and some are poor.” In contrast, a median of 69% of Western Europeans agreed. Support for free markets is higher among younger Eastern Europeans who have spent most of their lives in the capitalist system. However, support for the free-market system is also tied to opinions of personal progress, which suggests that a continued downturn could have troubling implications for free-market opinion in the former Eastern Bloc. Read More