The free market economy is flawed but should be addressed by regulation and reform rather than being replaced by a new economic system, according to a poll conducted in 27 countries.
The survey, commissioned by the BBC World Service, found widespread but measured scepticism of the world economic system in light of the financial crisis. Carried out to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the survey suggests hopes held then may since have been dashed. Doug Miller, chairman of Globe-Scan, which conducted the survey, said: "It appears that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 may not have been the crushing victory for free-market capitalism that it seemed at the time - particularly after the events of the last 12 months."
The poll, which surveyed almost 30,000 people, revealed differences between nations, with attitudes largely corresponding to popular perceptions of national cultures. In the US, one in four respondents thought that capitalism was working well. Pakistan was the only other country to get above 20 per cent on that score.
Across the sample, 51 per cent thought that free-market capitalism had problems that could be addressed by regulation and reform, with 23 per cent calling for an entirely new system. In France, 43 per cent wanted radical change, almost as many as wanted only moderate reform at 47 per cent.
In more than half the countries, most wanted their government to be more active in owning or directly controlling major industries, while 67 per cent of the total wanted the state to intervene to distribute wealth more evenly.
Steven Kull of the University of Maryland, which helped with the survey, said: "Some features of socialism . . . continue to appeal to many people."
The poll found a sharp divide over the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1989. Large majorities in the rich countries regarded it as a positive development, contrasting with some nostalgia among former Soviet countries and elsewhere in the developing world. A majority of Russians (61 per cent) and Ukrainians (54 per cent) regarded the disintegration of the bloc as mainly a bad thing.