The Indian Economy Blog

October 5, 2007

Urban Indians Love Free Markets & Free Trade

Ajay Shah has a post on the results of the Pew Institute’s latest survey:

They have three key questions that measure economic liberalism, covering attitudes towards international trade, attitudes towards foreign companies and attitudes towards free markets. The results contain many surprises. As an example, in urban India, they find 89% are supportive of international trade, 73% are supportive of foreign companies and 75% are supportive of free markets.

Urban India is at rank 9 out of 46 countries. China is at rank 11.

The report also shows sharp changes over the last five years…support for foreign companies in India went up from 61% in 2002 to 73% in 2007, a gain of 12 percentage points. On the question People are better off in free markets, support went up from 62% in 2002 to 76% in 2007, a gain of 14 percentage points. Most interesting is page 20, where the fraction that believes that government has too much control has risen from 52% in 2002 to 71% in 2007 – a rise of 19%. [Ajay Shah]

Roughly 2000 people were surveyed in India, of which city dwellers constituted 79%. At least 7 in 10 Indians you’d meet in cities, it turns out, are free market fundamentalists. Unless of course the survey itself is part of a vast free market fundamentalist conspiracy.

The survey doesn’t say—but it would be interesting to know how many of the survey respondents actually voted in the last elections, and whether they voted on the basis of their economic beliefs.


  1. I must say, as a external observer of Indian recent progress, that the results of this survey are not very surprising. Indians, generally speaking, are very liberals when it comes to their own economic well-being. It is our nature and it was hidden by years.

    Comment by Asif Rajani — October 6, 2007 @ 3:56 am

  2. On the face of it, this frankly, is hardly a surprise – as evidence just look at the malls sprouting up everywhere. One does wonder, though, just how representative this sample of 2000 was. It doesn’t have to be a free market fundamentalist conspiracy to be still overblown or misleading.

    Comment by Dweep — October 8, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

  3. The findings sound encouraging to a semi-libertarian like me. However, I\’m a tad suspicious of surveys in India, given the difficulty of getting a truly representative sample.

    A question (redux) for someone with actual market research experience in India: what will it take to get a true, representative sample in India given the size of the universe and perhaps even more importantly, the diversity — language/ economics/ rural-urban/ and 501 other differences.

    For instance, here\’s a total puff piece masquerading as news

    Comment by Prashant — October 8, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  4. Mint has an editorial on this;

    Btw, a friend pointed out that we should see this in context with the “Myth of the Rational Voter”.

    Comment by Nitin — October 9, 2007 @ 8:43 am

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