1 in 2 Unsure of Globalization’s Benefits, Survey Finds

19 Aug 2021
  • Globalization questioned by almost half of those surveyed, with many advocating for trade barriers
  • Decline in trust and ambivalence likely a symptom exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • For fair outcomes, governments need to work with local officials to create policies related to the environment, jobs and tax, expert says
  • Read the full report and learn more about these issues at our upcoming Sustainable Development Impact Summit

Geneva, Switzerland, 19 August 2021 — Public perception of globalization has declined over the past two years, with almost half unsure of its benefits and more than one-third advocating for trade barriers.

Findings from the latest World Economic Forum/Ipsos market survey of almost 20,000 people in 25 countries show a mix of polarization and ambivalence about free trade, globalization, and protectionist policies.

Trends show 75% of those surveyed agreeing that expanding trade is a good thing, yet almost 40% believe there should be more trade barriers to limit imports of foreign goods and services. Notably, 36% are neutral or have no option.

Sean Doherty, Head of International Trade and Investment at the World Economic Forum said: “International trade and investment can grow economies, reduce poverty, improve healthcare and empower people worldwide. However, changes caused by trade can be disruptive and painful, and can sometimes undermine local reforms. The seeming contradiction in survey results is understandable: people want more of the good and less of the bad of globalization. To grow the gains and achieve fair outcomes for all, governments need to listen to local priorities and work together on policies related to the environment, jobs, tax, the digital economy and other issues which reach across borders.”

Only 1 in 2 are positive about globalization - down in every country by an average of 10 points since 2019. France, Russia and Belgium have the lowest confidence in globalization, while Malaysia, South Africa, Peru, Brazil and South Korea have the most.

About the survey
These are the results of a 25-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 19,017 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16-74 in 20 other markets between March 26 and April 9, 2021.

Sustainable Development Impact Summit 20-23 September
These issues will be addressed at the Forum’s upcoming Sustainable Development Impact Summit. The virtual four-day event is hosted alongside the United Nations General Assembly and brings together global leaders from business, government, and civil society. It will focus on new technologies, policies and partnerships to advance cooperation, accelerate progress, and highlight tangible solutions to our global challenges. Find out more.

About Ipsos
Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. They serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999.

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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