World Publics Welcome Global Trade – But Not Immigration

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

10/04/2007 - This new Pew Global Attitudes report examines opinions in 47 countries about major international issues such as globalization, immigration and democratization. It also covers religion, morality and beliefs about gender, as well as how use of the internet, cell phones and the media has changed over the last five years. The 2007 survey, the largest ever undertaken by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, includes more than 45,000 interviews conducted in 47 nations.

The publics of the world broadly embrace key tenets of economic globalization.

  •  Large majorities think international trade is benefiting their country and multinational corporations that dominate global commerce generally receive favorable ratings. 
  • Still, enthusiasm for global trade has waned over the last five years in the West, especially in the United States.
  • In most countries, majorities think people are better off under capitalism, even though that means some may be rich and others poor.
  • Support for capitalism increased most in Latin American and Eastern European nations where satisfaction with income and personal progress have increased markedly over the past five years.
But there are widely shared concerns about the free flow of people, ideas, and resources that globalization entails.

  • Few publics want economic growth at the expense of the environment. In 46 of 47 countries, majorities say the environment should be given priority, even if this means less growth and fewer jobs.
  • In nearly all countries, people worry about losing their traditional culture and national identities, and they feel their way of life should be protected against foreign influence.
The poll finds widespread concerns about immigration.

  • And there is a strong link between immigration fears and concerns about threats to a country’s culture and traditions.
  • North Americans are generally more welcoming to immigrants than Europeans.  Among Western European publics, Swedes are the most likely to say immigration from key immigrant groups is a good thing for their country, while Italians and Germans express the most negative views.
  • More than one-in-five respondents in 11 of the 36 developing countries say they receive money from relatives living in another country. In Lebanon and Bangladesh, nearly half say they receive help from family members living abroad.
Poll findings underscore the broad social and economic forces that are rapidly reshaping the world.

  • In emerging countries large majorities vigorously endorse core democratic values.
  • Though equally large majorities in most of the developing world say honest elections, fair trials and free speech are not fully available to them.
  • Religious freedom and an impartial judicial system are the most prized democratic values. Somewhat smaller majorities endorse honest multiparty elections, free speech and a media free of government censorship.
  • The weakest endorsement of democracy is in Russia where a huge majority continue to say a strong leader, rather than democracy, can best solve the country’s problems.
Global publics are sharply divided over the relationship between religion and morality.

  • In much of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, there is a strong consensus that belief in God is necessary for morality and good values. Throughout much of Europe, however, majorities think morality is possible without faith.
  • Religiosity tends to be correlated with wealth – in the poorer nations, religion remains central to the lives of individuals, while secular perspectives are more common in richer nations.
  • Exceptions to this pattern are strongly held religious beliefs in the United States and the oil-rich kingdom of Kuwait.
  • The publics of former Eastern bloc counties are the least religious people in ‘middle income’ countries.
  • Compared to much of the world¸ tolerant attitudes towards homosexuality prevail throughout Western Europe and much of the Americas.
  • The United States, Japan and Israel stand apart from other wealthy nations on this issue – in each, less than half of the publics say homosexuality should be accepted by society.
There is a global consensus on the importance of education for both girls and boys, but divides on other gender issues.

  • There is less agreement that both sexes make equally good political leaders, particularly in the Muslim world.
  • And Muslims often oppose men and women working together, but in 15 of the 16 Muslim publics surveyed, a majority say women should have the right to decide whether they wear a veil.
Significant divides in opinion are apparent in Muslim countries.

  • At least a third of all Muslims in a majority of the countries with large Muslim populations – including more than half in Lebanon and Turkey – sees a struggle between Islamic fundamentalists and those who want to modernize their countries.  
  • While most publics agree that religion and politics do not mix, the trend is moving in opposite direction in two major Muslim countries that are key allies of the United States. Support for strict separation between religion and government is growing in Pakistan, while in Turkey support for separation has declined significantly in the past five years.
  • Majorities in every Latin American, Eastern European, and African country surveyed say women should choose their own husbands, but publics in South Asia and in most Arab countries say a woman’s family should choose whom she marries or that both should have a say.
Media and technology

  • The world continues to turn to television for news about international and national issues except in a few African nations where radio is the primary source of information. Newspapers continue to lose readers and trail far behind television as a news source.
  • Online news sources are steadily gaining in popularity in the West and parts of Asia but draw only a tiny audience in Africa or Latin America.
  • Americans, South Koreans and Czechs go online for news considerably more often than people in other nations.
  • Newspaper readership is also sharply lower in the U.S. than in other advanced nations.
  • Computer ownership has steadily risen in the past five years, particularly in Eastern Europe. At the same time, the gap between the world’s technologically advanced countries and less developed nations has increased considerably.
  • American internet use is markedly higher than in most advanced nations – save Sweden and South Korea.
  • Cell phone ownership is increasing at a dramatic pace in both the developed and developing worlds.
  • Since 2002, cell phone ownership has grown by 20 percentage points or more in 24 of the 35 countries where trend data is available.
Results for the 47-country survey are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Over 45,000 interviews were conducted in April-May, 2007. All results are based on national samples except in Bolivia, Brazil, China, India, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, South Africa, and Venezuela, where the samples were disproportionately or exclusively urban. The margin of sampling error for the full sample in each country ranges from plus or minus 2 percentage points to plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Read the full article World Publics Welcome Global Trade – But Not Immigration at the Pew Research Center Web site.

(All Fields are required)