The United States stands out among the 17 advanced economies as one of the most controversial when it comes to issues of social unity. A vast majority of Americans say there are strong political and racial and ethnic conflicts in the US and that most people disagree on the basic facts. And while Americans are not alone in this, France and South Korea also stand out as the findings of strongly conflicting societies from a new Pew Research Center report reveal exactly how the U.S. is more divided than other societies. surveyed.
Nine out of ten American adults say there are conflicts between people who support different political parties, while an overall average of 50% say the same in all advanced economies surveyed. Similarly, about seven in ten Americans say there are conflicts between people of different ethnic or racial backgrounds in the U.S., more than all the other publics surveyed. By comparison, only a quarter in Singapore and Taiwan and a third in Spain say the same thing. For religious and urban-rural conflicts, the US has the third highest number saying there are conflicts in each case. The only countries where a larger percentage hold these views are France and South Korea.
This Pew Research Center analysis focuses on comparing attitudes in the United States about social unity with that of views in other advanced economies. For non-US data, this post is based on nationally representative surveys of 16,254 adults from March 12 to May 26, 2021, in 16 advanced economies. All adult surveys were conducted by telephone in Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.
In the US, we surveyed 2,596 adults from February 1 to February 7, 2021. All those who participated in the US survey are members of the American Trends Center (ATP) Panel, an online survey panel recruited through random national sampling of residential addresses. This way almost all adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted as representative of the adult American population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education, and other categories.
This study was conducted in countries where nationally representative telephone surveys are available. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, face-to-face interviewing is currently not possible in many parts of the world.
Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with the answers. Visit our Methodological Database for more information on survey methods outside the US For respondents in the US, read more about the ATP methodology.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans (74%) say racial and ethnic discrimination is a serious problem in the US, compared to a public average of 17% of 67% who say racial and ethnic discrimination is a serious problem in their societies. There is a big difference in the article, however, with only 17% in Taiwan saying racial and ethnic discrimination is a serious problem and 82% in France and Italy saying the same thing.
And the US ranks near the top when it comes to whether people agree on basic facts: The majority of Americans (59%) say people can not agree on basic facts, second only to France (61%).
In the US, there are large political divisions over most measures of social conflict. Democrats and pro-democracy independents are more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents to say there are conflicts in each of the articles surveyed, with one exception: An equal share (90%) of partisans on both sides say they are strong or very strong conflicts between people who support different political parties. Previous findings in the US showed that an equally large proportion of Americans said the conflicts between Democrats and Republicans were strong or very strong. Democrats are also more likely than Republicans to say racial and ethnic discrimination is a serious problem in the U.S., according to older findings showing broad partisanship over racial and ethnic inequality.
There are also significant differences in issues of social conflict when it comes to racial and ethnic identity in the US White non-Hispanic white adults are much more likely than non-Hispanic or Hispanic Black adults to say there are conflicts between people who support different political parties, although most of the three groups hold this view. When it comes to conflict between people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, 82% of black Americans say there are very strong or strong conflicts, compared to about seven in ten white and Hispanic Americans. Black and Hispanic adults are more likely than white adults to say there are conflicts between people who practice different religions.
Partisans in the US are likely to say that Americans disagree on the basic facts. Six in ten Democrats share this view, as do about six in ten Republicans. But the Liberal Democrats (68%) are more likely than the moderate and conservative Democrats (52%) to say that most Americans disagree on the basic facts. Among Conservative Republicans, 62% say most people disagree with the basic facts, while 54% of moderate and liberal Republicans say so.
About six in ten non-Hispanic and Hispanic White adults say that when it comes to important issues facing the U.S., most people disagree on the basic facts. Black non-Hispanic adults are much less likely to have this view than white or Hispanic adults, with 49% saying most people disagree on basic facts. Those with a college degree or more education are also more likely to say that people disagree with the basic facts than those with a college degree or less (63% and 56%, respectively).
Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with the answers. Visit our Methodological Database for more information on survey methods outside the US For respondents in the US, read more about the ATP methodology.
Aidan Connaughton is a research assistant focused on researching global attitudes at the Pew Research Center.
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