An opinion poll in Chile has shown that there is a large consensus for a bigger role of the State in the economy. This poll was carried out by the Latin American Public Opinion Project of Vanderbilt University, USA, and the Catholic University of Chile released in January 2011.
However, various opinion polls have found that at a general level the individualistic approach has made inroads in the attitudes of the Chilean population. The results clearly demonstrate that the nation tends to value efficiency over equality and to affirm the possibility of upward social mobility.
Nevertheless, as demonstrated below, when presented with concrete questions about the role of the State in the economy the responses show a different picture.
- The State, rather than the private sector, should own the most important industries and enterprises in the country - 67.3 per cent
- The State, rather than the individual, should be mainly responsible for ensuring the welfare of people - 88.7 per cent
- The State, rather than private enterprise, should be mainly responsible for job creation - 89.2 per cent
- The State must implement strong policies to reduce income inequality among rich and poor - 92.7 per cent
- The State, rather than private enterprise, should be mainly responsible for the pension system - 93.0 per cent.
The reason for such opposing results may just be that old ideas die hard; but it might also be that the experience with eliminating the State from economic management has not been successful. In another, earlier opinion poll (Encuesta Latinobarómetro 2010) found that only a minority of Chileans are happier with privatised services (27 per cent) or feel the privatisation of public enterprises have been beneficial for the country (34 per cent).
I think this phenomenon is comparable, though not identical, to the recent findings of the 2010 UK Public Opinion Monitor report which explains ‘the UK public think promoting human rights in poor countries is more important in deciding how and where UK aid is spent than benefits to the UK in terms of security, global influence and/or the economy.’