What’s the Point? Building a Successful Economy

Citizens across 11 leading countries see education, regional investments, and cooperation between labor unions and businesses as good ways to build a successful economy.

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A student attends a lesson at the Erasmo da Rotterdam high school in Turin, Italy, on September 2, 2020. (Getty/Diego Puletto)

Regular citizens often struggle to comprehend the complex global economy. But according to new data from Global Progress and YouGov, citizens in 11 leading democracies share a common understanding of what it takes to build a more successful economy overall.

The more than 14,000 respondents in the survey were asked whether they support or oppose a range of policy ideas and outcomes as “ways to help build a successful economy.” Education and training are clearly most important to average citizens in multiple national contexts. At the top of the list is education. Across all 11 countries, 80 percent support the goal of building “a good quality education system that provides skilled workers,” followed closely by “government backed apprenticeship and training programs,” with 70 percent support.

Figure 1

Support for the idea that good-quality education systems help build a more successful economy emerges on top in all 11 countries, with half or more of citizens strongly supporting this policy goal in the United States (50 percent), Australia (51 percent), the United Kingdom (52 percent), Finland (53 percent), and Spain (71 percent).

Two additional ideas emerge with more than 6 in 10 support across all 11 countries: “Building a positive relationship between trade unions and businesses” (61 percent total support) and “providing tax incentives or loans for businesses setting up in depressed areas” (64 percent total support).

Notably, ideas such as “reducing taxes on businesses” (37 percent); “reducing the regulations that businesses have to follow” (37 percent); and “limiting trade union rights” (25 percent) all fall to the bottom of the list in terms of global support, with a scant 11 percent of global citizens supporting “keeping wages down” to build a successful economy.

What’s the point on building a more successful economy? Citizens across the globe share similar beliefs about improving the state of the economy where they live. Above all, this requires high-quality education and training systems to prepare workers, regional investments to improve depressed areas, and more cooperation between unions and businesses to help both succeed in the global economy.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


John Halpin

Former Senior Fellow; Co-Director, Politics and Elections

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