Most Americans Agree That Capitalism Needs to Evolve, The Harris Poll & Forbes Find
New data shows Americans across age, gender, race, ethnicity, and political orientation are united in thinking capitalism needs a course correction.
NEW YORK, May 16, 2023 (Newswire.com) - For Americans, a thriving society means access to affordable healthcare, housing, childcare, and innovation in an open market, according to a new survey from The Harris Poll Thought Leadership Practice and Forbes. Entitled "The State of American Capitalism," it found that nearly half of Americans believe capitalism is headed the wrong way, a feeling amongst all generations and races.
The survey shows that capitalism is seen as the ability to accumulate wealth but not deliver on the important needs of a thriving society. In particular, the younger generation of Americans leans towards socialism in finding the answers to society's foundational needs. Gen Z has a lower perception of capitalism, viewing it as a mixed market. For many people, capitalism is still seen as the best option, but in need of a course correction.
"While in the history of history no economic system has lifted more people out of poverty, solved more of life's ills, and created more prosperity, opportunity, and socio-cultural benefit than capitalism, the system remains imperfect," Seth Matlins, Managing Director of Forbes CMO Network, said. "And today, for many Americans, its imperfections seem far more vivid than either its absolute or comparative good."
Americans want capitalism to evolve to meet their needs, including livable wages, affordable housing, and access to universal healthcare. They would be willing to increase taxes on the rich, pay more for goods, and implement wealth caps for the greater good. And Americans want corporations to be more involved in evolving capitalism instead of the government.
"Capitalism is not a static economic model. Instead, it adapts and evolves with the times," Harris Poll CSO Libby Rodney says. "It's clear in the data that Americans want an evolution of capitalism that enables better access to their foundational needs of livable wages, affordable housing, and healthcare."
Two-thirds of Americans view access to affordable healthcare, housing, and childcare as important. More than 60% of people also view the ability to secure a well-paying job, earn a higher education degree, and start a business/entrepreneurship as a crucial part of a thriving society.
Americans are betting on companies to evolve capitalism, more so than the government. Capitalism is seen as having the ability to accumulate wealth but less likely to deliver on the top needs of a thriving society. For young Americans, it is a tight race between capitalism and socialism, with Gen Z and Millennials saying socialism can provide better opportunities for affordable childcare, healthcare, and mental health.
Almost half of Americans, regardless of generation and race, say that capitalism is headed on the wrong path, except 38% of people who make over $100,000. Gen Z has a lower perception of capitalism than Boomers. When asked if capitalism is the best market system for driving innovations to move society forward, 80% of Boomers agreed compared to 55% of Gen Z and 69% of all Americans.
Overall, capitalism is a mixed market, especially for Gen Z:
- 74% of Americans, including 58% of Gen Z, see capitalism as "an innovation-based market that produces innovative ideas and growth opportunities"
- 67% of Americans, including 58% of Gen Z, see capitalism as a "free market, where everyone has the right to play and compete"
- Yet, 62% of Americans believe capitalism is an "inequitable system designed to keep some people on the bottom"
- Overall, 70% of Americans say that capitalism remains the best option even if it is not perfect, with 80% of Boomers and 57% of Gen Z agreeing
- 62% of Americans say that "today's capitalism has annihilated the middle class"
The survey reveals that Americans want to see capitalism evolve to meet their needs, including livable wages, affordable housing, and access to universal healthcare. They are willing to do their part, with 71% in favor of taxing wealthy individuals and corporations to fund more social services, 57% willing to pay more for goods and services to guarantee living wages for workers, and 55% in favor of implementing wealth accumulation caps.
Corporations should help in evolving capitalism, more so than the government.
- 84% of Americans believe "corporations should have a role in evolving today's form of capitalism," compared to 79% for the government
- 77% of Americans support "companies focusing less on profits and more on helping people"
- 68% of Americans believe that focusing on growth over everything else is not sustainable with finite resources
- 67% of Americans support "businesses focusing more on ESG initiatives"
This survey was conducted online from Dec. 29, 2022, to Jan. 8, 2023, among 4,021 U.S. adults comprising 452 Gen Z, 1,304 Millennials, 1,099 Gen X, and 688 Boomers.
You can learn more about The Harris Poll Thought Leadership and Futures Practice and read about this survey here. You can also read its newsletter, The Next Big Think.
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About Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S., tracking public opinion, motivations, and social sentiment since 1963, and is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. We work with clients in three primary areas: building 21st-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and guidance to help leaders make the best decisions possible. To learn more, please visit www.theharrispoll.com.
Source: The Harris Poll