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The Freedom to Conduct and Publish Opinion Polls, 2022

WAPOR was established in 1947. Exactly halfway in this long history, in 1984, it conducted its first worldwide study on the freedom to publish polls. Over the past 25 years, this study has become a regular exercise once every 5 years.

Last year, WAPOR celebrated its 75th anniversary with a conference theme of “75 Years of Worldwide Public Opinion Research,” and its core values of Liberty, Quality, and Humanity were reaffirmed. As written in WAPOR’s Constitution, “Public opinion is a critical force in shaping and transforming society. Properly conducted and disseminated survey research provides the public with a tool to measure opinions and attitudes in order to allow its voices to be heard.” 

Again, in cooperation with ESOMAR, WAPOR conducted the latest of seven studies of the freedoms to conduct and publish opinion polls around the world, this time based on the knowledge of 200 opinion researchers in 157 countries across six continents. In terms of geographic coverage and questionnaire content, this is the most extensive study to date of our profession’s freedoms (or lack thereof) and our wellbeing. 


While opinion polling has been expanding globally over the past few decades, we are realistic about the challenges facing us as professors, or survey practitioners, or users of polling data. We are facing rising restrictions from authoritarian governments; crime and violence are threatening our interviewers who are out knocking on doors; respondents are becoming increasingly unwilling to answer their phones when we call; and disinterest is rising among readers/viewers who doubt the validity of experts generally and the accuracy of our polls. 

However, other trends favor our ability to conduct and publish our polls: almost universal mobile phone ownership, rising internet access, acceptance of online polling both by clients and survey respondents, and increased funding for research, particularly for humanitarian studies, during and even after the pandemic. Looking ahead, key drivers suggested by the survey of our activity at WAPOR are going to be educational. We will use the best tools at our disposal (e.g., webinars, electronic publications, hybrid and inclusive conferences) to broaden awareness among the general public, journalists, and government officials about How and Why opinion polls are conducted and published in order to allow people’s voices to be heard.  

by Dr. Robert Chung, President of WAPOR
From the Foreword of "The Freedom to Conduct and Publish Opinion Polls, 2022"