Global survey finds U.S. comparing unfavorably against other countries on a host of areas

Economic might and standard of living are exceptions.

A new Ipsos Global Advisor Survey shows that people across the world are more likely to qualify the United States’ performance on a broad range of characteristics as “below average” than as “above average” with the notable exception of economy-related areas. The survey was conducted online among more than 20,000 adults from 29 countries in June-July 2020.

The survey finds 40% rating the U.S. as “below average” in comparison with other countries when it comes to making a positive difference in the world. Only 27% rate the performance of the U.S. as “above average,” while 33% rate it as “average.” 

Globally, the U.S. gets more “above average” ratings than “below average” ratings on just five of 13 performance areas, all related to the economy. The U.S. compares negatively to other countries in general on seven performance areas with the worst net scores (percentage “above average” minus percentage “below average”) on respecting its neighbors and other countries, respecting human rights, contributing to international peace and cooperation, and respecting the rights of its citizens.

The survey finds significant differences across countries when it comes to their assessment of the United States’ performance.  When looking at all 13 attributes combined, the countries where views of the U.S. skew most negatively are all Western democracies, including many of America’s traditional allies: the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, France, Canada, and Great Britain.  The countries whose citizens are most likely rate the U.S. positively are India, Poland, Israel, Brazil, and the U.S. itself.

Detailed findings

Among 13 performance areas, there are only five, all economy-related, on which more people globally rate the performance of the U.S. as “above average” in comparison to other countries than rate it as “below average.” These five areas in which the U.S. receives a positive net score (% “above average minus % “below average”) at a global level are, in order:

  • Having a strong economy (+29)
  • Contributing to the global economy (+17),
  • Its people enjoying a good standard of living (+13),
  • Being a good country in which to invest (+9)
  • Contributing to international socio-economic development (+1)

People across the world are more likely or just as likely to rate the U.S. “below average” as “above average” on all areas measured that do not pertain to the economy:

  • Respecting its neighbors and other countries (-34)
  • Respecting human rights (-24)
  • Contributing to international peace and collaboration (-22)
  • Respecting the rights of its citizens (-20)
  • Making a positive difference in the world (-13)
  • Respecting contracts and the rule of law (-12)
  • Having a strong commitment to culture and the arts (-6)
  • Having strong democratic values and institutions (0)

On each one of the 13 areas, more Americans rate the performance of the United States “above average” than rate it “below average.” Net scores from U.S. respondents on the various attributes range from +42 on contributing to the global economy to +5 on respecting its neighbors and other countries.

Compared to all people surveyed across the world, Americans have a rosier view of their country’s performance on 12 of the 13 areas covered in the survey. The sole exception is having a strong economy (net score of +21 in the U.S., which is eight points less than it is globally).

The areas where Americans’ assessment of their country’s performance is most disconnected from the view of citizens from other countries are, in order:

  • Respecting human rights (net score of +18 in the U.S., vs. -24 globally, i.e., 42 points higher in the U.S. than globally)
  • Respecting its neighbors and other countries (+5 vs.-34, i.e., 39 points higher)
  • Contributing to international peace and cooperation (+16 vs. -22, i.e., 38 points higher)
  • Making a positive difference in the world (+23 vs. -13, i.e., 36 points higher)

When combining all 13 attributes, average net scores at the country level range from a high of +34 in India to a low of -42 in the Netherlands with a global average of -5.

Countries where the average net score is higher than +20 (i.e., where, on average across all performance areas, those who rate the U.S. “above average” outnumber those who rate the U.S. “below average” by more than 20 percentage points) are:

  • India (+34)
  • Poland (+29)
  • Israel (+27)
  • Brazil (+25)
  • The United States (+22)

Countries where the average net score across all performance areas is lower than -20 are:

  • The Netherlands (-42)
  • Belgium (-41)
  • Germany (-37)
  • Sweden (-34)
  • France (-29)
  • Canada (-29)
  • Great Britain (-22)

These are the results of a 29-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform.
Ipsos interviewed a total of 20,047 adults aged 18-74 in United States, Canada, Israel, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16-74 in 23 other countries between June 19 and July 3 8, 2020.

Society