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Rich Nations Gloomy, Emerging Economies Upbeat: Global Consumer Confidence Poll


2 November 2011 - 
Consumers in many of the world’s major industrialised economies are pessimistic about economic prospects in their country, while those in emerging economies are much more upbeat, according to a new 25-nation poll for BBC World Service.

The poll of 25,438 people was conducted by GlobeScan between July and September this year. Respondents were asked to say whether they expect good or bad economic times in the next year, and also over the next five years. The poll shows that Japanese, British, and French consumers are among the most pessimistic across the countries polled. In Japan, only five per cent expect “good” or “mostly good” times, while 60 per cent expect “bad” or “mostly bad” times over the next year. There are similar levels of economic pessimism in the UK (eight per cent expecting “good” or “mostly good” times, over half (52%) expecting “bad” or “mostly bad” times), and France (9% “good / mostly good”, 51% “bad / mostly bad”).

But consumers in other industrialised economies are also gloomy, with just 13 per cent of Australians and 16 per cent of Americans saying they expect “good” or “mostly good” times in the next year. Germans (36% “good / mostly good”) and Canadians (28%) are somewhat more optimistic. The 22 per cent of Spanish who are optimistic about the next year are outweighed by the 52 per cent who are pessimistic.

In contrast, those who expect “good” or “mostly good” economic times over the next year heavily outnumber pessimists in major emerging economies like Brazil (51% optimistic, 20% pessimistic), China (51% vs 11%), and India (51% vs 22%). The most optimistic countries polled are all in Africa, with 72 per cent of Nigerians, 57 per cent of Egyptians, 55 per cent of Kenyans, and 53 per cent of Ghanaians all expecting “good” or “mostly good” economic times.

This is the third year that the poll has measured economic confidence around the world. Focusing just on the change in consumer confidence since 2010, most of the countries seeing the biggest increases are in the developing world, with the biggest rises in Kenya (up 24 points since 2010), Mexico (up 23 points), Turkey (up 16), and Indonesia and Germany (each up 14). The proportions expecting good times have dropped in two countries—India (down 11 points since 2010) and Australia (down 9 points). Economic confidence has been largely static over the same period in the UK (up 1 point) and other G7 economies like France (up 1 point), Canada (no change), the USA (up 3 points), and Japan (down four points).

International polling firm GlobeScan interviewed 25,438 adult citizens across 25 countries in conducting this poll for BBC World Service between July 3, 2011 and September 16, 2011. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.0 to 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller commented: “The poll suggests citizens in many industrialised economies—most notably the UK and US—see their immediate and longer-term economic prospects as bleak, and the continuing Eurozone crisis will only be making matters worse. It also reveals continuing strong consumer confidence in emerging giants such as Brazil, India, and China.”

Other Findings

Despite continuing pessimism in the G7 nations, the last twelve months have seen a significant increase in those expecting “good” or “mostly good” economic times over the next year across the 18 countries polled each year since 2009, from 27 per cent to 32 per cent1. Positive sentiment has increased in seven countries, is little changed in nine, and has decreased in two. Those expecting “bad” or “mostly bad” times over the next year have declined from 30 per cent in 2010 to 27 per cent in 2011.

When asked to think of the next five years, those polled are somewhat more optimistic, with 37 per cent expecting “continuously good” or “mostly good” economic times, up from 31 per cent a year earlier. The proportion expecting “continuously bad” or “mostly bad” times over the next five years has fallen from 26 per cent to 20 per cent. Egypt and Nigeria again emerge as the most optimistic countries, closely followed by China and Brazil. France, the UK, and Japan are again the most pessimistic about the next five years.

In total 25,438 citizens across 25 countries were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between July 3, 2011 and September 16, 2011. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In eight of the 25 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.0 to 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

For more details, please visit www.GlobeScan.com

1All multi-country averages quoted here are based on the 18 countries surveyed in 2009, 2010, and 2011.


Participating Countries

country map

In Brazil, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Panama, the Philippines, and Turkey urban samples were used.

For detailed results, including country-by-country data for all key questions, please see the Key Findings page below.


Media Contacts

For media interviews with the participating pollsters, please contact:

Sam Mountford, Research Director
GlobeScan Incorporated, London
+44 20 7928 5368
(Mobile: +44 7854 132625)
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Oliver Martin, Director, Global Development
GlobeScan Incorporated, Toronto
+1 416 969 3073
(Mobile: +1 416 721 3544)
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About GlobeScan

GlobeScan Incorporated is an international opinion research consultancy. We provide global organisations with evidence-based insight to help them set strategy and shape their communications. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments, and NGOs trust GlobeScan for our unique expertise across reputation management, sustainability, and stakeholder relations. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is ISO 9001-2008 quality certified and a signatory to the UN Global Compact.

Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in Toronto, London, and San Francisco. For more information, visit: www.globescan.com

About BBC World Service

The BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster, delivering a wide range of language and regional services on radio, TV, online and via wireless handheld devices. It uses multiple platforms to reach its weekly audience of 166 million globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. BBC World Service offers its multilingual radio content to partner FM stations around the world and has numerous partnerships supplying content to news websites, mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices as well as TV channels. For more information, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice

Backgrounder: Region-by-Region Results

North America

As in 2010, a clear split exists between Canada and the US over perceived economic prospects during the next 12 months. Canadians are much more upbeat than Americans, and their views have changed little since last year. Almost three in ten (28%) of them think their country will experience “good” or “mostly good” times over the next year, while 23 per cent are pessimistic. This contrasts with the bleak economic sentiment in the US, where barely one in six (16%) believes the economic outlook will be positive in the year ahead. Over twice as many are negative: two out of five (38%) predict “bad” or “mostly bad” times over the next year. Nonetheless, the proportion of pessimistic respondents in the USA has dropped six points since 2010 (from 44%).

Looking at the longer term, respondents from both Canada and the US are more confident, but the contrast between the two countries is still apparent. Over the next five years, 24 per cent of Americans expect “continuous” or “mostly” good times (up 7 points since 2010), while a similar proportion (27%) leans the opposite way and expects “continuous” or “mostly” bad times. In Canada, optimists (35%, up 9 points since 2010) are almost three times more numerous than those with negative views (12%).


Latin America

Among Latin American countries surveyed, economic sentiment is positive overall, although diverse at a country level. The regional average shows almost four in ten (38%) predict good business conditions during the next 12 months, and only 17 per cent predict difficult times. Panamanians and Brazilians are the most optimistic, with respective majorities of 52 and 51 per cent who say they expect “good” or “mostly good” times in the next 12 months, well above the regional average. However, Brazilians are somewhat less upbeat than last year, when 57 per cent of them were optimistic.

Peruvians are also very positive, with 45 per cent of them saying they expect good business conditions in the year ahead, and only 5 per cent holding the opposite view (the second lowest proportion among all countries surveyed). And in contrast with Brazilians, respondents from Peru have become much more optimistic since 2010, when only 27 per cent had positive feelings about the next year, while 26 per cent held negative views. In Mexico, although the proportion of Mexicans who think good business conditions will prevail in their country during the next year is slightly below the regional average (34% vs 38%), three times as many have positive views as in 2010 (11%), which demonstrates a sharp increase of optimism among Mexicans.

The situation is much less buoyant in the other OECD country in the region, Chile, where only 22 per cent of Chileans are positive about the economic outlook over the next year—the lowest percentage in the region. Ecuadorians are rather split, with one in four saying they expect “good” or “mostly good” times in the next 12 months, and another quarter (24%) saying the opposite. Half expect equally good and bad times.

The picture is very similar when we look at the longer term. Brazilians are the most optimistic, with 60 per cent who say they expect “continuous” or “mostly” good times for business conditions over the next five years—well above the regional average of 41 per cent. Panamanians and Peruvians follow with 50 per cent, and in Peru, the proportion of optimists has surged since 2010 (29%). Chileans remain the least optimistic, with just over one in five (21%) believing the economic outlook for the five years to come will be positive.


Europe

In Europe, Britons and French are by far the least optimistic, with only 8 and 9 per cent confident that business conditions in the next 12 months will be good. These figures are the second and third lowest among all countries surveyed, and have remained stable since 2010 (7% and 8%, respectively). In Spain, the proportion of optimists is significantly greater (22%) but still remains at quite a low level—and is also stable compared to 2010. But Spain is one of three European countries where majorities expect bad economic times in the coming year (52% in Spain and up 14 points since 2010, 52% in the UK, and 51% France).

In Germany, the population has become much more upbeat since 2010. Thirty-six per cent of Germans said they expect “good” or “mostly good” times during the next year, compared with 22 per cent in 2010. This makes the Germans the second most optimistic people among the countries surveyed in Europe, after the Turks, 39 per cent of whom hold positive views about economic prospects in their country in the year ahead. As in Germany, economic sentiment in Turkey has improved greatly since 2010, when just 23 per cent felt positive about their economic perspectives.

In Russia, pessimism has gained ground since 2010, with 22 per cent now saying they expect bad economic times compared to only 15 per cent last year. The proportion of optimists remains quite stable, at 24 per cent.

When focusing on the longer term, the Turks and Germans also appear as the most optimistic Europeans, with respectively 40 and 33 per cent saying they expect their country’s economy to fare well over the next five years. This is significantly higher than the 2010 figures (21% in Turkey and 20% in Germany). As in Germany, a third of Spaniards have positive views, but far fewer are optimistic compared to 2010 (52%). In France and the UK, the economic sentiment of the population for the five years to come remains very gloomy, although it has improved somewhat compared to 2010 (respectively 20% and 17% of optimists, up 6 and 5 points).


Africa

The economic sentiment in Africa is the most positive overall compared to other regions. On average, 59 per cent of African respondents predict that economic conditions during the next 12 months will be “good” or “mostly good,” while only 14 per cent say they expect bad economic times. This optimistic sentiment is found consistently in each of the four African countries surveyed.

Nigeria is the country with by far the highest proportion of optimists among all countries surveyed (72%), and the percentage has increased by 11 points since 2010. Respondents from the three other African countries surveyed also have majorities who think their country will experience “good” or “mostly good” times in the year ahead, above the proportions in any other surveyed country: 57 per cent in Egypt, 55 per cent in Kenya, and 53 per cent in Ghana. Like Nigerians, Kenyans and Ghanaians are much more upbeat about economic prospects in their country compared to 2010 (24% more optimists in Kenya, 13% more in Ghana).

The longer-term picture also shows buoyant sentiment among Africans, especially in Egypt and Nigeria. Egyptians are the most positive of all the countries surveyed about business conditions over the next five years, with almost three in four (74%) saying they anticipate “continuous” or “mostly” good economic conditions. They are closely followed by Nigerians (73%, up 10 points since 2010). Ghana follows with 60 per cent (up 14 points since 2010). Kenyans are less upbeat, although a near majority predict good business conditions (48%), and that percentage has increased by 12 points since 2010.


Asia

In Asia, a clear division between developing and richer economies is apparent. The two economic giants, China and India, are the most upbeat among the Asian countries surveyed, with over half of respondents (51%) thinking good business conditions will prevail in their country during the next year. However, economic sentiment in India is not as positive as last year, with the proportion of optimists decreasing by 11 points, while it remains stable in China. There are also over twice as many Indians who are pessimistic (24%) as in China (11%).

The perspectives on the short-term economic outlook are also largely positive in two other booming economies of the region, Indonesia and the Philippines. Forty-eight per cent of Indonesians say they are hopeful that business conditions in their country will be “good” or “mostly good” in the year ahead (up 14 points since 2010), and 46 per cent of Filipinos lean the same way. In both countries, only ten per cent are pessimistic. In Pakistan, however, economic sentiment is not good. Thirty per cent of Pakistanis have positive views, an increase of 12 points since 2010, but optimists are still outnumbered by pessimists (36%).

In the two richest economies of the region—members of the OECD—the picture is radically different. In Japan in particular, only 5 per cent of respondents say they expect good times for the Japanese economy (down 4 points from 9% in 2010), and fully 60 per cent hold the opposite view. These figures are the most negative among all countries surveyed, and demonstrate the very high level of pessimism in Japanese society. Consumer confidence is nearly as bad in Australia, with just over 13 per cent predicting good business conditions in their country over the coming year, a proportion that has dropped nine points since 2010.

Looking at the longer term, the Chinese appear as the most confident in the capacity of their economy to fare well. More than six in ten (62%) expect “continuous” or “mostly” good times over the next five years, the third highest percentage globally after Egypt and Nigeria. Indonesia and the Philippines follow, both with 54 per cent optimists—this represents a 16-point increase since 2010 in the case of Indonesia, while the proportion in the Philippines remains stable. Long-term economic perspectives for India are also considered positive by a majority of Indians, although economic confidence has dropped since 2010 (50%, down 7 points). In neighbouring Pakistan, long-term optimism has gained some ground, from 21 per cent in 2010 up to 32 per cent this year.

Even when contemplating long-term economic perspectives, the Japanese are not optimistic. With just 14 per cent expecting good times over the next five years, Japan is the least optimistic of all participating countries.

Methodology

In total 25,438 citizens in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between July 3, 2011 and September 16, 2011. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by GlobeScan and its research partners in each country.

In Brazil, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Panama, the Philippines, and Turkey urban samples were used. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.0 to 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

CountrySample Size (unweighted)Field datesSample frameSurvey methodologyType of sample
Australia 1207 August 5–7, 2011 18+ Telephone National
Brazil 806 July 26 – August 15, 2011 18–69 Telephone Urban1
Canada 1000 August 3–7, 2011 18+ Telephone National
Chile 1200 August 18–29, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
China 1000 July 13–31, 2011 18+ Telephone Urban2
Ecuador 497 August 27 – September 16, 2011 18+ Face-to-face Urban3
Egypt 1005 July 16–29, 2011 18+ Face-to-face Urban4
France 503 August 16–18, 2011 15+ Telephone National
Germany 1013 July 8–27, 2011 16–70 Telephone National
Ghana 1037 July 25 – August 20, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
India 1254 July 15–29, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Indonesia 1000 July 3 – August 25, 2011 18+ Face-to-face Urban5
Japan 1673 September 3–4, 2011 20+ Face-to-face National
Kenya 816 August 5 – September 1, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Mexico 1000 July 23–28, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Nigeria 755 August 2–9, 2011 18–65 Face-to-face National
Pakistan 2400 July 18 – August 8, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Panama 750 August 9–22, 2011 18+ Telephone Urban6
Peru 1215 July 15–20, 2011 18–70 Face-to-face National
Philippines 800 July 23 – August 8, 2011 18+ Face-to-face Urban7
Russia 1006 July 22 – August 10, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Spain 501 September 1–10, 2011 18+ Telephone National
Turkey 1000 July 5–18, 2011 15+ Face-to-face Urban8
United Kingdom 1000 July 6 – August 23, 2011 18+ Telephone National
USA 1000 July 8 – August 18, 2011 18+ Telephone National
  1. In Brazil the survey was conducted in Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba, Goiânia, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and São Paulo, representing 18 per cent of the national population.
  2. In China the survey was conducted in Beijing, Beiliu, Chengdu, Dujiangyan, Fenyang, Fuyang, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Manzhouli, Quanzhou, Qujing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shuangcheng, Wuhan, Xi'an, Xining, and Zhengzhou, representing 45 per cent of the national adult population.
  3. In Ecuador the survey was conducted in Cuenca, Guayaquil and Quito, representing 52 per cent of the urban population.
  4. In Egypt the survey was conducted in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza, and Shubra El-Kheima, representing 24 per cent of the national population.
  5. In Indonesia the survey was conducted in Bandung, Jakarta, Makassar, Medan, and Surabaya, representing 27 per cent of the national adult population.
  6. In Panama the survey was conducted in Panamá, Chiriquí, Colón, Coclé, Veraguas, Herrera, Bocas del Toro and Los Santos, representing 70 per cent of the adult population.
  7. In the Philippines the survey was conducted in the National Capital Region, representing 27 per cent of the urban adult population.
  8. In Turkey the survey was conducted in Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Istanbul, Izmir, Konya, Samsun, and Zonguldak, representing 56 per cent of the national adult population.

Research Partners

CountryResearch InstituteLocationContact
Australia GlobeScan Toronto Oliver Martin
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+1 416 969 3073
Brazil Market Analysis Florianópolis Fabián Echegaray
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+55 48 3364 0000
Canada GlobeScan Toronto Oliver Martin
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+1 416 969 3073
Chile Mori Chile Santiago Marta Lagos
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+56 2334 4544
China GlobeScan Toronto Oliver Martin
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+1 416 969 3073
Ecuador Propraxis / Sigma Dos Quito Carlos Moreno
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+593 7 2888519
Egypt Attitude Market Research Cairo Mohamed Al Gendy
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+202 22711262
France Efficience 3 Paris and Rheims Christian de Thieulloy
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+33 1 4316 5442
Germany Ri*QUESTA GmbH Teningen Bernhard Rieder
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+49 7641 93 43 36
Ghana Business Interactive Consulting Limited Accra Razaaque Animashaun
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+233 302 783140 / +233 302 782892
India Team C Voter Noida Yashwant Deshmukh
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+91 120 4175200 (ext. 223)
Indonesia DEKA Marketing Research Jakarta Irma Malibari
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+62 21 723 6901
Japan The Yomiuri Shimbun Tokyo Ikuko Higuchi
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+81 3 3217 1963
Kenya Research Path Associates Ltd. Nairobi Jeremy Mwololo
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+254 020 2734770
Mexico Parametria Mexico City Francisco Abundis
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+52 55 2614 0089
Nigeria Millward Brown Lagos Michael Umogun
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+234 802 311 7969
Pakistan Gallup Pakistan Islamabad Ijaz Shafi Gilani
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+92 51 2655630
Panama Dichter & Neira Panama City Gabriel Neira
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+ 507 236 4000
Peru Datum Lima Urpi Torrado
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+511 215 0600
Philippines M&S-Sigma Dos Philippines, Inc. Makati City Teodora Marasigan
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+63 2 8172780
Russia CESSI Institute for Comparative Social Research Moscow Vladimir Andreenkov
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+7 495 650 55 18
Spain Sigma Dos Int. Madrid Gines Garrido
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+34 91 360 0474
Turkey Yöntem Research Consultancy Ltd. Istanbul Bülent Gündoğmusş
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+90 212 278 1219
United Kingdom Populus Data Solutions London Patrick Diamond
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+44 207 553 4148
USA Populus Data Solutions London Patrick Diamond
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+44 207 553 4148

Question Wording

M9t.

Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole—do you think that during the next twelve months we’ll have [READ AND ROTATE SCALE] good times financially, mostly good times, about equally good and bad times, mostly bad times, or bad times?
CODE ONE

  • 01 Good times
  • 02 Mostly good times
  • 03 About equally good and bad times
  • 04 Mostly bad times
  • 05 Bad times
  • VOLUNTEERED
  • 99 Don’t know/not applicable
M10t.

And looking ahead, which would you say is more likely—that in the country as a whole over the next five years we'll have [READ AND ROTATE SCALE] continuous good times financially, mostly good times, about equally good and bad times, mostly bad times, or continuous bad times?
CODE ONE

  • 01 Continuous good times
  • 02 Mostly good times
  • 03 About equally good and bad times
  • 04 Mostly bad times
  • 05 Continuous bad times
  • VOLUNTEERED
  • 99 Don’t know/not applicable

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