The Pew Center for the People and the Press, in Washington, conducted the 2002 Global Attitudes Survey in 43 nations around the world. Bruce Stokes contributed to the February 7 morning workshop “Challenges of democracy, human security and civil society in Latin America” with a presentation on the survey data from Latin America.
Slide #1: We tried to get a sense through a variety of questions about how people felt about their own lives xxx today, how they felt about the state of their nation, how they felt about the state of the world at that moment.
The data from Latin America is broadly reflective of what we saw all over the world, which is that people are much more satisfied with their own lives than they are with the nation and the world. In Latin America, the differences are particularly striking. The column on satisfaction with the state of their own lives raises some interesting questions. Why is it that Guatemalans are so satisfied with the current state of their lives (visible on the later slide). There’s a high incidence in Guatemala of people saying, at one point last year, that they were not able to have enough money to buy food or to buy healthcare, so clearly when people are asked about the satisfaction with their own lives, in parts of the world, their answer does not necessarily reflect their economic state. It’s more understandable that people might have less satisfaction with their xhamster lives in Argentina and Brazil or Bolivia given the overall economic conditions in their countries.
[In a place like Guatemala, the assumption that you’d be dissatisfied if you didn’t have enough money to buy food at least once during the year—then there’s no correlation there. People are satisfied with their lives, and they didn’t have enough money to buy food, so we know, by indirection, what they didn’t mean. Obviously it’s something else. I think there are xvideos limits to what you can do here. Theoretically, if you did vast focus groups rather than sampling, you could get at the question that you’re after. It would be a legitimate thing to do. It would also be frightfully expensive.]
What’s interesting in the Latin American data is that, in most parts of the world, people are most satisfied with their own lives, less satisfied with the state of the nation, and even less satisfied with the state of the world. In Latin America, the satisfaction with the beeg nation and the world are roughly the same; if anything, people are slightly more satisfied with the state of the world than the nation. Again, it’s more understandable that 3 percent say they’re satisfied with the state of the nation in Argentina given the conditions in Argentina. You get nowhere is there a great deal of satisfaction with the state of the nation. Just parenthetically, to give you some insight, the people we surveyed who were happiest about the state of the nation were the Canadians. Over half the population was satisfied with the state of the nation.
Slide #2: We asked people to give us a sense of where they were in the ladder of life. You show people a scale of 1 to 10 and ask them where they would put themselves on that scale today. We then asked them where they thought they were five years ago. And what we found was that in a number of countries there was a sense of progress and in a number of Latin American countries there was a sense of backsliding. And the countries where the backsliding was most prevalent are Argentina and Venezuela, where there was a strong sense that life had gotten worse in the past five years. There was a strong sense in Honduras that things had gotten better.
Slide #3: Personal optimism. We then asked people where they thought they hoped to be five years from today on this scale. What you find almost everywhere around the world is that no matter how bad people think things are today, they tend to be fairly optimistic about the future, and in many countries, the worse people think things are today, the more optimistic they are about the future. This doesn’t bear out in the Argentinean case here, where they are only mildly optimistic about the future. But certainly in Brazil and Venezuela, there are examples of people being very optimistic about the future. This does set up expectations about what the government and the business community are going to deliver to the public over the next five years, and certainly if those administrations are frustrated and those expectations are frustrated, there may be some political consequences.
Slide #4: We then asked people, to get a sense of deprivation in their lives, if at any time in the past 12 months did they not have enough money to buy food and pay for health care and buy clothing. You can see there’s a fairly strong—a large number of people in many these countries, close to half the population, said that at some point in the past year they had felt that sense of deprivation. We’ve shared this data with the UNDP and the UN in general, and they say their own surveys bear out roughly the same sense of deprivation, so we’re fairly confident that these are accurate.
Slide #5: We asked people all over the world what they consider to be their top national problem, so we gave them a range of about eight different problems (moral decay, ethnic disputes) and what was striking all over the world is that in 35 of the 43 countries where we were allowed to ask this question—in 35 countries, either crime or corruption was the No. 1 issue. This was certainly the case also in Latin America, where crime was the most important problem in Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico. Corruption was the No. 1 problem in Argentina. It was very striking to us that there was such a concern with lawlessness, and I think that raises some long-term governance issues about the challenges facing democratic governments in the future—whether they can deliver on providing greater security.
We also asked, Do people prefer economic success or democracy? In other words, they had to choose which was more important to them. Historically, people have chosen economic success, and our data in Latin America showed that economic success was more important than democracy. We probably should have asked the question about security in the streets, whether people would be willing to trade off democracy for that, and I think we unfortunately probably know what the answer might be.
Slide #6: We also asked folks all over the world, including in Latin America, to rate institutions and give us a sense of whether they thought those institutions were giving a good influence on the country. We had a range of different institutions, but these were the leaders in Latin America. As you can see, the news media is almost universally in Latin America considered to have the best influence on society on how things are going in the country. It’s particularly appreciated in Mexico, Honduras and Bolivia. It’s considered to be the most influential institution in Argentina, though barely half the public thinks it has a good influence. What we also found interesting was the range of support for the military, from a high of 83 percent in Honduras to a low of 20 percent in Argentina. The national government gets a real range of support, from a low of 7 in Argentina, 37 in Venezuela, 27 in Peru, to a high of 64 in Mexico. Religious leaders are fairly strongly supported relative to other institutions. And in some countries, Venezuela and Peru, they are considered to be the most influential institutions.