Which Industries Should Be More or Less Regulated?

A new Harris Poll finds that health insurance, managed care, pharmaceuticals and the oil industry top the list for more regulation, while computer hardware and software and supermarkets seen as least in need of more regulation.

Public attitudes to government regulation of business are complex, to say the least. The same people who are critical of government regulation in general often favor tougher regulation related to health, safety or environmental issues. It is also clear from a new Harris Poll that whatever people's attitudes are to government regulation in general, they see huge differences among different industries. Majorities of the public think that three industries should be more regulated than they are now: health insurance (56 percent), managed care (55 percent) and pharmaceuticals (55 percent). Next on the list comes the oil industry, which 48 percent believe needs more regulation.

Although few people surveyed said they want more regulation of most industries, very few people thought any one of them should be less regulated. Indeed, more than half (57 percent) of all adults thought that none of the 15 industries included in the survey should be less regulated.

The survey found that some industries are seen as generally more trustworthy than others, though a third of all adults (32 percent) said they would not believe statements made by any of these industries to be honest and trustworthy. The industries trusted more are generally the same ones people feel the least need to regulate: supermarkets (42 percent), banks (40 percent), hospitals (35 percent) and computer hardware (29 percent) and software companies (25 percent). The industries trusted the least are oil companies (4 percent), tobacco companies (4 percent), managed care (5 percent) and health insurance (9 percent).

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