Capitalism and the foreign investor

Date of publication: September 1, 1995

Abstract:

These unique surveys of Russia's regions offer insights into the development of one crucial aspect of capitalism -- attitudes and policy preferences among both opinion leaders and the general public. Begun in 1994 and continuing today, these surveys track trends in support for free market reforms and related social and political issues among the regions of the Russian Federation. The surveys' findings are profiled by region and key demographic variables (gender, age, education, occupation, ethnicity). A multi-variate index of support for capitalism is developed and presented for the twenty-four regions with several demographic breakouts. Key findings include: o Russian public opinion overall is negative, emotional and pessimistic about the future. Russians are discouraged by the costs of free market reforms and are likely to take out these feelings on incumbents in the upcoming elections. o According to our regional surveys, most Russians see their personal economic situation as poor and unlikely to improve in the coming year. Russians are ambivalent about market reforms, tending to oppose those that might spark inflation or job losses and supporting those that provide greater freedom of choice for individuals. o Based on a nine-point scale of attitudes toward capitalism, we find that most Russians are lukewarm in their support for the free market. Enthusiasm is greatest (though still muted) in Murmansk, Maritime Kray and Komi; weakest in Pskov, Voronezh and Bashkortostan. Not surprisingly, capitalism is supported by those most likely to benefit from it: the young, urban dwellers, the university educated and those in the managerial or executive ranks. o In the eleven regions where we conducted both elite and public opinion surveys, we find that the general public is twice as likely as elites, on average, to reject capitalism in principle. Divergences between the leadership and the general public are greatest in Sverdlovsk and Krasnodar Kray and, significantly, are least in Komi and Tartarstan.

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