World divided on socialism, 200 years after birth of Karl Marx

Half of the people around the world think that at present, socialist ideals are of great value for societal progress. Despite this, half of the people also agree that socialism is a system of political oppression, mass surveillance and state terror. Globally, eight in ten people think that the rich should be taxed more to support the poor. Around the world nine in ten people believe that education should be free of charge and that free healthcare is a human right.

World divided on socialism, 200 years after birth of Karl Marx

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Aalia Khan Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
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On the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth, a new 28-country survey by Ipsos Global Advisor reveals that the world is split down the middle on the impact of socialism on society.

Half (49%) of Britons agree that socialist ideals are of great value for societal progress, but 51% disagree. The survey, carried out online among adults aged under 65, found that on average, the world is split down the middle (50%), but China (84%), India (72%) and Malaysia (62%) are more likely to agree, and Japan (21%), Hungary (28%), France (31%) and the US (39%) least like to agree.

Furthermore, the world is also divided over individual freedom. Half (48%) think that individual freedom is more important than social justice, with India (72%), the US (66%) and South Africa (64%) the most decided. France (64%), China (63%) and Germany (62%) are more likely to disagree.

We are also divided on our view of socialism as an ideology. On average, 48% across the world agree that socialism is a system of political oppression, mass surveillance and state terror. Britons are more likely to disagree with this (58%). Indians (66%) are more likely to have this negative view of socialism and Russia (29%), Spain (30%) and China (31%) are least likely.

Despite these divisions, there is more agreement on free market competition. On average, 66% believe that free market competition brings out the best in people, with emerging economies such as India (86%), Malaysia (84%), Peru (83%) and Mexico (81%) in greater agreement. European countries such as France (43%) Germany (49%) and Belgium (51%) are less likely to agree.

Furthermore, countries are in greater agreement when asked about specific socialist ideals. Eight in ten (78%) across the world think the rich should be taxed more to support poor people, with Great Britain close to the global average (75%).

Similarly, nine in ten (89%) think that education should be free of charge and 87% agree that free healthcare is a human right. Countries that are most lukewarm on socialist ideals for societal progress, like the US and Hungary (39% and 28% agree socialism has great value respectively) are still keen on free education and healthcare. Seven in ten (72%) Americans think that free healthcare is a human right and 77% think that education should be free.

Technical Note

  • In total 20,793 adults were interviewed between 23 March and 6 April, 2018. The survey was conducted in 28 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the USA).
  • Approximately 1000 individuals aged 18-65 were surveyed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Romania, Spain, Great Britain, and the USA. Approximately 500 individuals aged 16-64 were surveyed in Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Hungary, India, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey.
  • The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website.
  • Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. 17 of the 28 countries surveyed generate nationally representative samples in their countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and United States). Brazil, Chile, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey produce a national sample that is considered to represent a more affluent, connected population.  These are still a vital social group to understand in these countries, representing an important and emerging middle class.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Aalia Khan Ipsos Public Affairs, UK

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