Women have a much more negative view of the U.S. economic system than men, according to the Pew Research Center’s new survey of public opinions in 17 democracies.

Seventy-five percent of American women believe the country’s economic system needs significant change, compared with 58 percent of men, according to a breakdown of the U.S. data provided to The 19th.

The surveys, conducted from February to May of this year, asked 18,850 participants from around the world about their views on their country’s political, economic and health care systems. The United States ranked among the countries with the most discontent for each. Italy, Spain, Greece, France and Japan also showed high levels of dissatisfaction. Overall, 85 percent of the Americans surveyed called for significant political change, 76 percent want significant health care change and 66 percent want significant economic change. 

The results reveal that the majority of respondents in about two-thirds of the countries said they want to see considerable political change, with Italy, Spain and the United States expressing the strongest disapproval. On health care, Greece and the United States responded with the most overwhelming interest in change compared with the other countries. 

Men and women in the United States said at equal levels — 58 percent of respondents from each group — that they feel dissatisfied with the way democracy is working in the country. On both politics and health care, a modestly higher number of U.S. women than men reported a desire for significant change, though the U.S. economic system generated the sharpest divide. In the United States, 20 percent of women wanted complete reform of the economic system and 55 percent say it needs major change, categories Pew categorized as wanting significant reform. Those figures were 15 percent and 44 percent for men.

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, industries dominated by women were hit hard by the economic downturn. These challenges are felt even more by Black and Latina women. Millions of women have been driven from the workforce due to a combination of job loss and an inability to pay for child care. Most other countries in the survey have more robust leave and child care support policies.

Major pieces of legislation currently before Congress have measures aimed at relieving parents and caregivers. The Democrats’ Build Back Better reconciliation bill and infrastructure proposal include money for child care subsidies, a universal pre-K program, a monthly child tax credit and paid family leave. These bills are still being negotiated, and cuts in scope and time frame for some of the programs seem likely to lower the price tag. 

Pew Research Center’s survey did not ask people about specific reforms they want from their countries. 

Other key findings:

  • The groups who responded with the most satisfaction overall were Sweden, New Zealand and Australia. People in New Zealand expressed the lowest need for change in both political (24 percent) and economic (28 percent, tied with Sweden) systems of all 17 countries.
  • Countries where citizens perceive partisan conflict in their societies expressed more support for overhauling the political system.
  • In the United States, 88 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and 83 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they want significant change to the political system. 
  • Most participants around the world said their government respects their personal freedoms. Sixty-three percent believe this in the United States.

In the United States, 2,596 people were surveyed from February 1 to 7, 2021.