Which Country Believes in Free Markets? Not Who You'd Think!

Which country is most supportive of free-market principles?

No, it’s not America. Nor is it Canada or Great Britain or Japan.

In fact, according to a recent poll from the international firm GlobeScan, the nation that most agrees with the statement, “The free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world” is: (drum roll, please!)

China, the largest of the Communist countries. Seventy-four percent of the people polled in that country agreed with that statement.

And which country do you think was most skeptical of free-market principles?

France. OK, no surprise there. In fact, with only 36 percent agreeing, it’s almost hostile to a market economy.

GlobeScan, which partnered with the Program on International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland, polled nearly 21,000 people in 20 nations.

Surprised — about China, that is? (Who is ever surprised by what the French say?)

Maybe we shouldn’t be. The Chinese have found that moving quickly from a planned economy toward a free market economy can take a country from poverty to prosperity in no time. By contrast, young people in France are rioting over a proposed law that would allow employers to actually fire workers less than 26 years old. As it is now, French employers avoid hiring young workers because companies are virtually prohibited by law from firing them. Chairman Mao couldn’t have asked for more.

The result is a 23 percent jobless rate in France among those under age 26. If businesses had the option to fire indolent, incompetent or unnecessary young workers, the risks associated with hiring people 25 and younger would diminish, as would the jobless rate.

Another surprise. Which country was the second most supportive of the free market system?

The Phillipines, where 73 percent believe in the power of free enterprise, compared to 71 percent in the U.S.

So, the Chinese are defending capitalism; and the French are defending, well, communism.

At least now you know why investment capital is flowing to China — and fleeing France.

TaxBytes is a product of the Institute for Policy Innovation.