Survey on the Free Market in Puerto Rico

Survey on the Free Market in Puerto Rico

Photo: Semanario Visión

The Institute for Economic Liberty (ILE) published the results of a study on the knowledge of and affinity for free market principles in Puerto Rico. The study covered the four main pillars of the free market: "Individual Freedom," "Rule of Law," "Right to Private Property," and "Limited Government," and topics such as "Puerto Rico's Current Situation," "Social Welfare," and "Meritocracy," among others.

The report entitled The Free Market in Puerto Rico 2022 highlights that the participants broadly support the free market system and consider that it does not have the weight it should have on the Island; for example, 99.6% of the sample states that people should have the freedom to make decisions in search of their own well-being; and 97% express that they should be able to earn an honest living in whatever they wish, without obstacles from the government.

Although participants are divided as to how they evaluate their personal economic situation, 88% responded that Puerto Rico's economic situation is bad or very bad. Moreover, 92% believe that the direction of the Island's economy is bad or very bad. These results indicate that a large majority of people have a negative perception of the local economy, although many do not feel personally at risk.

The report was conducted by Dr. Ángel Carrión Tavárez, director of Research and Public Policy at ILE; Dr. Luz N. Fernández López, researcher at ILE; and Dr. Juan Lara, economist and professor at the University of Puerto Rico. The first two were in charge of the design of the study and the construction and administration of the questionnaire, which consisted of sociodemographic data of the participants and 25 multiple-choice questions or statements.

Respondents to the questionnaire believe in individual responsibility and self-effort to satisfy desires and achieve personal aspirations. "From the perspective of a change from a welfare model to one of economic mobility in Puerto Rico, it is significant that 98% of those surveyed say they are capable and responsible for achieving their goals and 93% say they prefer to earn a living by working," said Dr. Carrión Tavárez.

To be precise, the majority evaluated the social welfare programs in that they are not very effective and require modification. More than 80% believe that they are not designed to lift people out of poverty and three-quarters of those surveyed consider that these programs only satisfy people's basic needs while they are poor. Two-thirds even believe that they do not provide beneficiaries with the opportunity to fend for themselves.

"Another important result is that 81% affirmed that the free market contributes to more employment, less poverty and better quality of life; however, 58% indicated that the government currently has the most weight in Puerto Rico's economy. This reveals that the sample perceives a lack of alignment between value aspirations and the prevailing reality, in terms of economic freedom and the free market on the island," added Carrión Tavárez.

It is striking that 61% of the participants strongly agreed or agreed with the statement that no matter how prepared one is, "if you don't have a godfather, you don't get baptized". This result suggests that, although respondents generally give primacy to individual agency and meritocracy, they perceive that in Puerto Rican society people's actions are limited by the culture of favoritism.

The report includes a ranking that highlights the gap between the importance of free market principles to participants and their assessment of how well or poorly they work in Puerto Rico. "In the ranking of the principles it stands out that 12 have 90% or more importance and 17, more than 80%. In contrast, almost half of the principles have less than 10% of good functioning and none exceed 40%," concluded Carrión Tavárez.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Semanario Visión.

Scroll to Top