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Before Crisis, G7 Countries Expressed Economic Worry

by Ian T. Brown

Developing countries expressed far less concern

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Even before the onset of worldwide stock market volatility in September 2008, Gallup found respondents living in G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) to be more pessimistic about their local economic conditions than respondents living in other countries surveyed. Respondents living in G7 countries were also far more pessimistic about local economic conditions than respondents living in the developing BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China).


Respondents living in the G7 countries were far more likely to say their local economy was getting worse (median of 48%) than respondents living in the 112 countries surveyed (global median of 28%). For the same question, respondents in the BRIC countries were more likely to say their local economy was getting better (median of 53%) when compared with citizens living in other countries (global median of 40%).

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The U.S. housing market crash, and the historically high foreclosure rates it triggered, became international news in March 2007. By August 2007, the U.S. Federal Reserve System, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of Japan started supplying funds to their respective banking markets to buttress security-backed assets.

Gallup Polls show that citizens in developed countries were experiencing economic uncertainty in 2007 and early 2008. In terms of local job markets, a median of almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents in the G7 countries said it was a bad time to look for work. Again, results from the BRIC countries were less pessimistic, with a median of just 50% of respondents saying it was a bad time to find a job. Only a median of one-quarter of those surveyed in the G7 countries said it was a good time to find a job.


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Boom in the BRICs

The Economist's projection for the BRIC countries' average economic growth for 2007 and 2008 (8% and 13%, respectively), which dwarfs growth projections for the G7 (2% and 1% respectively), may help explain the more positive attitudes in the BRIC nations. In the BRIC countries, a median of 39% of respondents said it was a good time to find a job. BRIC residents were also more likely to say their standard of living was getting better or staying the same (median of 85%) than were those surveyed in the G7 countries (median of 53%) or respondents living in 114 countries surveyed (global median of 72%).


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Facing an Uncertain Future

Following the global financial crises in recent weeks, attitudes have likely changed for the worse around the world, most notably in countries hardest hit by stock market drops. However, as the Gallup data show, widespread negativity did not first surface following recent events. In the wake of 2007's subprime mortgage crisis, global attitudes around the developed world were already navigating choppy economic waters.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with at least 402 adults, aged 15 and older, in 114 countries conducted between 2007 and 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.


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