January 21: A majority of people around the world believe capitalism in its current form is doing more harm than good, reveals a survey ahead of this week's Davos meeting of business and political leaders.
According to Reuters, this year was the first time the "Edelman Trust Barometer", which for two decades has polled tens of thousands of people on their trust in core institutions, sought to understand how capitalism itself was viewed.
The study's authors said that earlier surveys showing a rising sense of inequality prompted them to ask whether citizens were now starting to have more fundamental doubts about the capitalist-based democracies of the West, Reuters reported.
"The answer is yes," the news agency quoted David Bersoff, lead researcher on the study produced by US communications company Edelman, as saying.
"People are questioning at that level whether what we have today, and the world we live in today, is optimized for their having a good future."
The poll contacted over 34,000 people in 28 countries, from Western liberal democracies like the United States and France to those based on a different model such as China and Russia, with 56% agreeing that "capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good in the world".
The survey, according to Reuters, was launched in 2000 to explore the theories of political scientist Francis Fukuyama, who after the collapse of communism declared that liberal capitalist democracy had seen off rival ideologies and so represented "the end of history".
That conclusion has since been challenged by critics who point to everything from the rising influence of China to the spread of autocratic leaders, trade protectionism and worsening inequality in the wake of the 2007/08 global financial crisis.
Within the data there were divergences, with Asians more optimistic about their economic prospects than others across the world. There was also a growing split in attitudes according to status, with the affluent and college-educated much more likely to have faith in how things were being run.
Of possible interest to corporate leaders gathering in Davos this week was the finding that trust in business outweighed that in governments.
"Business has leapt into the void left by populist and partisan government," said Edelman CEO Richard Edelman.