With a negative perception of the economy and support for free enterprise the majority

These are some of the results of research promoted by the Institute for Economic Liberty.
With a negative perception of the economy and support for free enterprise the majority

Photo: Noticel

The vast majority of Puerto Ricans have a negative perception of the direction of Puerto Rico's economy, while they are very supportive of free enterprise and express that people need economic freedom to trade and cooperate with each other.

These are some of the results of research on the knowledge of and affinity for free market principles in Puerto Rico promoted by the Institute for Economic Liberty (ILE).

The study, it said, "covered the four main pillars of the free market" which are individual liberty, rule of law, private property rights, and limited government. It also touched on topics with the interviewees such as the current situation in Puerto Rico, social welfare, and meritocracy, among others.

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

When asked about Puerto Rico's economic situation, 88% responded that Puerto Rico's economic situation is bad or very bad. In addition, 92% believe that the direction of the island's economy is bad or very bad.

This report was prepared by Dr. Ángel Carrión Tavárez, Director of Research and Public Policy at ILE; Dr. Luz N. Fernández López, a researcher at ILE; and Dr. Juan Lara, economist and professor at the University of Puerto Rico. The first two, it was reported, oversaw 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.

Other data that stands out is that those who answered 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 Carrión Tavárez.

Impressions of social assistance programs were not very positive, with more than 80% believing that they are not designed to lift people out of poverty and three-quarters of those surveyed believing that these programs only meet people's basic needs while they are poor. Furthermore, two thirds believe that they do not provide beneficiaries with the opportunity to fend for themselves, it was pointed out.

"Another important result is that 81% affirmed that the free market contributes to more employment, less poverty and a better quality of life; however, 58% indicated that the government currently has the greatest 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.

On the subject of merit, they call attention to the fact that 61% of the participants strongly agreed or agreed with the statement that no matter how prepared one is, "if one does not have a godfather, one is not 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," he said.

This News article was originally published in Spanish in Noticel.

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