Monday, May 19, 2014

Which countries have national ideologies that support widespread opportunities for individual flourishing?

If you have not been following this blog closely you might find my answer to this question to be surprising.

Perhaps I should begin by listing some propositions that are supported by earlier posts in this series:
  1. As economic development enables people to satisfy their material needs to a greater extent they tend to adopt emancipative values which enable more widespread opportunities for individual flourishing. See my review of Freedom Rising by Christian Welzel.
  2. Further strengthening of emancipative values will require prevailing social norms and ideologies to support economic development. The chances of economic development are improved when prevailing social norms and ideologies support economic freedom. See: ‘Can the industrial revolution be explained by the"cool-water condition"?’ and ‘Are culture and economic freedom substitutes or complements in facilitating economic development?’.
  3. There is evidence that, other things equal, individualistic societies tend to have smaller governments and that countries with high emancipative values tend to be individualistic. See my discussion of research by Gizem Arikan.
  4. There has not been a general tendency for economic freedom to either rise or fall over the last few decades in wealthy countries with rising emancipative values. Economic freedom has fallen in some such countries (e.g. US and Japan) and risen in others (e.g. Sweden and Norway). See: What is the relationship between emancipative values and economic freedom?
  5. There is evidence that economic freedom tends to rise in countries with a strong economic growth ideology i.e. where people consider economic growth should have high priority as a national aim and have attitudes favourable to scientific advances. See my last post.

So, one way to answer the question of which countries have national ideologies that support widespread opportunities for individual flourishing is to use the results of the regression analysis in my last post to identify the high income countries which have growth ideologies which are predicted to result in increased economic freedom. The answer is provided in the following chart, in which countries with relatively high average incomes (above $25,000 in US 2005 dollars) are shown with a red marker.

Click the chart to get a better view.

One problem with the answer provided in the chart is that it is based on surveys conducted during the 00s. In my next post I will consider whether more recent WVS survey data relating to growth ideology shows a different picture.

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