An emerging confidence

On the economy, the West is no longer the centre of wisdom or hope.

Which country has the best answers for how to grow an economy? Where are the best opportunities for young people? Which country is poised to emerge as a global leader? For a long time, the rich Western democracies saw themselves as the source of wisdom about how to organise the economy and promote welfare. But, the US and Europe can no longer point to their societies as examples to follow, stuck as they are with anaemic growth and little improvement for most of their citizens. Instead, China's influence is sharply rising while the BRIC countries are more confident about their own future than the US or the EU.

This became evident in a recent poll conducted by Ipsos MORI, along with the new International Development Institute (IDI) at King's College London. Scholars at the IDI wondered how the years of bad news out of the West, coupled with more impressive growth in the emerging economies, had affected public views of global economic leadership. People from 11 emerging economies, including India, were asked three questions: which countries have the right ideas about the economy; which country offers the best opportunities for young people; which country will be the leading global economic power in the next 20 years.

On the first question, people were closely divided between the US and China with 28 per cent identifying the former and 26 per cent choosing the latter. India was not a popular choice — only 2 per cent of respondents thought India had the best ideas, behind the EU (16 per cent), South Korea (9 per cent), and both Brazil and Russia (5 per cent). But those numbers cloak a lot of variation. For example, only 16 per cent of Argentines chose the US, only a little behind the 18 per cent who chose China. Forty-three per cent of Argentines said they didn't know or didn't think any country had ideas worth copying. Indians, in contrast, expressed the greatest confidence in the US, with 43 per cent saying so and only 32 per cent choosing China. Among Indians, women, the young (under 35), the more educated and business owners tended to be more supportive of the US and by extension less so of China.

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