Society How people in developed countries around the world see U.S. society


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The Pew Research Center, one of my favourite think tanks, has surveyed people in 17 advanced economies about the strengths and weaknesses of American society.

What People Around the World Like – and Dislike – About American Society and Politics


It comes as no surprise to me that technology (e.g. Silicon Valley) and entertainment (esp. Hollywood) are the things that people admire the most worldwide about the USA.

The French are the least likely to appreciate American entertainment (but still 65% do) and Canadians the most (78%). Oddly only 68% of Americans do, which would either mean that Hollywood is more popular abroad, or that only the best movies/series make it abroad and US reality TV and other poor programming tend to be confined to the home market.

Germans are the most reluctant to acknowledge its technological achievements (only 52% do), while Greeks are the most in awe of it (87%). Again Americans are among their own biggest critics as over a third of them don't think their country is above average when it comes to technology!

Americans themselves see their military power as the thing their country excelled at the most by international standards. It was also the most common response of Belgians and Swedes about America. But with 84% of responses, it is the Taiwanese who hold the US military in highest regard - obviously because their country's survival depends on it. New Zealand and Japan were least impressed by the US military.

What struck me the most is that Americans and other developed countries can't seem to agree about universities and standards of living. All countries apart from Australia mention US universities more often than Americans do themselves. That's probably because they think only of the top universities and don't take into account the extremely high fees. But while 51% of Americans pride themselves on their high standards or living, almost everyone else disagrees. The only countries where over 50% of people thought that American standards or living were above average were Taiwan, South Korea and Spain. Only 12% of Dutch, 13% of Swedish, 16% of German and 19% of Australian respondents had a positive view in that regard. So does that mean that Americans think their quality of life is higher than it really is for a developed country? That really depends on who you are asking, because obviously your own social class and standards of living matter.

East Asians are the least likely to say that America's standards of living is below average.


Responses about the health care are much less mixed, with a pretty dim view overall in Western countries, although once again East Asians (and for some reason also Greeks) have the most rosy views of the US.


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