Key Findings

 

Survey results by topics

Perception of China   Meaning of Democracy   Detachment from Authoritarianism  Preliminary Findings

 

For more about the Fourth Wave survey in individual countries (including survey results, technical reports, questionnaires etc.), please follow the links below (more countries will be added as results become available).

Asian Barometer Wave4 Survey

 

Preliminary Findings

Research Findings from the Asian Barometer Survey

Some major research findings from the Asian Barometer Survey are highlighted below. Please note that Wave One was conducted in eight countries/territories: China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam were added in the Second Wave, and Myanmar was added in the Fourth Wave.

Fieldwork for the Fourth Wave survey is still under preparation/ongoing in a number of countries. Please also note that not all questions were asked in all waves for each country.

How do Asians View a Rising China?

Since the Third Wave, the Asian Barometer Survey has asked respondents whether they feel that China has a positive impact on their own country and on the region. We find that despite sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea, a majority of citizens in most Southeast Asian countries (with the exception of Myanmar) view the influence of China favorably. However, among East Asian countries, citizens hold much less favorable views on the influence of China. In particular, only 23% of Japanese respondents viewed China's influence on their own country favorably, and only 19% of them viewed its influence on the regime favorably.

How do Asians Understand the Meaning of Democracy?

In the ABS Third Wave, we included four items designed to measure how respondents understand the meaning of democracy. For each item, respondents were asked to choose for one of four definitions of democracy corresponding to social equality, good governance, norms and procedures, and freedom and liberty respectively. Unlike people in the West, Asians tend to understand the meaning of democracy in terms of substantive outcomes (social equality or good governance), rather than the procedural aspects of democracy (norms and procedures or freedom and liberty). Furthermore, this finding was consistent across regime types.

Are Asians Satisfied With the Performance of Democracy in their own Country?

Since the First Wave, the Asian Barometer Survey has asked respondents if they are satisfied with the performance of democracy in their own country. Our results consistently show that satisfaction with the performance of democracy is lowest in the region's liberal democracies (Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea), indicating a gap between citizens' expectations of democracy and the actual performance of democratic institutions.

 

Preference for Democracy

Many respondents do not regard democracy as always the best form of government. This finding was consistent across different regime types, including liberal democracies. For instance, in Japan, the region’s oldest democracy, only 62% of respondents stated that democracy was always the best form of government in the Third Wave, a decline from 77% in the First Wave. In Taiwan, the proportion of respondents who regarded democracy as always preferable did not exceed 50% in any wave.

 

Detachment from Authoritarianism

We also presented respondents with three specific alternatives to democracy ("get rid of parliament and elections and have a strong leader decide thing," "only one political party should be allowed to stand for election and hold office," and "the army (military) should come in to govern the country.") Citizens in liberal democracies tend to reject specific alternatives to democracy, where as citizens in electoral democracies and authoritarian regimes (except for Singapore and Hong Kong) are more likely to consider these alternatives.

Trust in Government Officials

Citizens in the region's liberal democracies tend to be "skeptical democrats" with very low levels of trust in the institutions of government. In contrast, citizens in electoral democracies and authoritarian regimes show much higher levels of trust in government. The chart below shows levels of trust in government officials across the surveyed countries. 

Perceptions of Corruption

Citizens in democratic countries are also more likely to perceive widespread corruption among government officials than those in authoritarian countries (especially at the national level), despite the fact that democracies generally have better scores on objective indicators of corruption.

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