Canada and the U.S. Have the Most Inclusive Views of Nationality

Who is and is not a “Real American”, a “Real Brazilian” or a “Real Chinese”? Ipsos’s Inclusiveness Index compares countries’ acceptance of social and cultural diversity.

The author(s)
  • Nicolas Boyon Senior Vice President and Ipsos Global Advisor Lead
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Washington, D.C. - An Ipsos Global Advisor survey shows Canada and the United States have the most inclusive definition of nationality, followed by South Africa, France, and Australia. These countries score highest on an Inclusiveness Index reflecting social acceptance of diversity as it applies to religion, immigration, sexual orientation and gender identity, political views, and criminal background. 

The Overall Inclusiveness Index is based on the findings of an Ipsos Global Advisor survey conducted in April and May 2018. For the study, Ipsos interviewed over 20,700 men and women in 27 countries about as many as 28 types of people. For each type, respondents were asked if they consider such a person to be a “real” national (e.g., “a real American” in the U.S., “a real Brazilian” in Brazil, etc.) or not. The Overall Inclusiveness Index is calculated by averaging the net scores (“real” percentage minus “not real” percentage) for six constructs: 

  • Religious Inclusiveness (average of net scores for each of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists) – led by France and Canada;
  • Naturalized-Citizen Inclusiveness (net score for naturalized citizens) – led by the U.S. and Australia;
  • Second Generation Inclusiveness (average of net scores for native-born people whose parents immigrated from nine different regions of the world) – led by Canada and Chile;
  • LGBT Inclusiveness (net score for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people) – led by France and Canada;
  • Criminal Background Inclusiveness (net score for people who have been convicted and incarcerated) – led by Canada and South Africa; and
  • Extreme Political Views Inclusiveness (net score for people with extreme political views) – led by South Africa and the U.S.

For benchmarking purposes, the study also explores inclusiveness of people who served in the country’s armed forces (it is highest in the U.S.) and self-perception of locals as “real” nationals (it is most common in China and India). 

The study also explores the nature and prevalence of international experience and international connections among people from each country. Serbia and Sweden stand out as the two countries in the study whose citizens are most likely to have lived or traveled abroad and to have personal or professional connections with people from or living in another country.

Religious Diversity

To assess attitudes toward religious diversity, respondents were asked whether they consider each of a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu and an atheist as a “real” national of their country. Of the 25 countries where questions on religion were asked*, Canada, France, South Africa, and the U.S. are the only four countries where full majorities (i.e., at least 50% of adults surveyed) consider members of all six religious groups as “real” nationals. 

Other countries where members of at least three religious groups are seen by at least 50% or respondents as “real” nationals are: Australia (all groups except Muslims), Malaysia (all groups except Jews and atheists), and Argentina, Great Britain and Sweden (Christians, Jews and atheists for all three). 

In Belgium, Chile, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Russia, and Spain, only Christians and atheists are seen by majorities as “real” nationals. Members of only one religious group are thought of as “real” nationals by majorities in five countries: Christians in Brazil, Peru and Serbia; Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In both Japan and South Korea, the most common answer for members of all religious groups is “not sure.”

Naturalized Citizens

Just under half (48%) of adults asked across 25 countries* think that an immigrant who has become a citizen of their country is a “real” national while 31% consider that he or she is not a “real” national and 21% are not sure. A majority of adults in 13 countries (including three quarters in the U.S. and two thirds in Canada and Australia) and a plurality in seven other countries consider that a naturalized citizen is a “real” national. However, a majority in Malaysia, Hungary, Serbia, and Turkey, and a plurality in Poland disagree. A majority in Japan is not sure.

Globally, the odds for a naturalized citizen to be perceived as a “real” national increase by an average of five points when it is specified that he or she is employed or that he or she is fluent in the local language. The odds drop by significantly steeper margins when it is specified that the naturalized citizen does not have a job (nine points lower) and most of all, that he or she is not fluent in the local language (by 17 points). People in France, Belgium, and Australia are especially prone to differentiating naturalized citizens based on both their employment status and their fluency in the local language.

Legal and Undocumented Non-Citizens

At 31%, the average global percentage of adults who consider a lifelong legal immigrant who has not become a citizen as a “real” national is 17 points lower than for an immigrant who is a naturalized citizen. The non-citizenship penalty for a legal immigrant is highest in the three countries most likely to view naturalized citizens as “real” nationals: the U.S., Canada, and Australia (30 points or more).

Globally, the percentage of adults who consider an undocumented immigrant who has lived in the country most of their life to be a “real” national is 29 points lower than for an immigrant who is a naturalized citizen. The penalty for being undocumented is highest in the three countries most likely to view naturalized citizens as “real” nationals: the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Australia, and South Korea (42 points or more). The only country where people in this situation are viewed as “real” nationals by a plurality is Mexico (45%), possibly taking into consideration the status of “Dreamers” in the United States.

In every country surveyed, an immigrant who is married to a native (without any mention of their legal status) is less likely to be viewed as a “real” national than is an immigrant who has become a citizen (32% vs. 48%, a 16-point difference). The difference is highest in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa (25 points or more).

"Second Generation"

Across the 27 countries surveyed, 58% view locally-born and raised children of immigrants as “real” nationals while 21% say they are “not real” nationals and another 21% are not sure. Views about those who are often referred to as “second generation” people vary widely across countries. In 15 countries (chief among them Chile, Canada, and South Africa), at least 50% of adults surveyed view people born and raised in that country whose parents immigrated from every one of nine world regions as “real” nationals. On the other hand, in seven countries (chief among them Japan and China), fewer than 50% of adults surveyed view people born and raised in that country whose parents immigrated from any one of nine world regions as “real” nationals.

Views do not vary much depending on the parents’ region of origin: with few exceptions, the percentage of respondents who consider native-born children of immigrants from a neighboring or culturally similar country tends to be no more than a few points higher than for native-born children of immigrants from a more remote or culturally different part of the world. For example, 63% of all respondents across Europe and North America (not including Mexico) consider native-born children of immigrants from Europe or North America as “real” nationals vs. 58% who think the same of native-born children of immigrants from the Middle East or North Africa – a five-point difference.

Children of Expatriates

Globally, only 41% consider someone born and raised abroad by parents from their own country is a “real” national. This is seven points lower than for a naturalized citizen and 17 points lower than for someone born and raised in the country by immigrant parents (average for all regions of origin of immigrant parents).

In Malaysia (by 51 points), Serbia, Turkey and Hungary, children of expatriates are more likely to be viewed as “real” nationals than are naturalized immigrants. Furthermore, in Malaysia (by 38 points), Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, and Japan, children of expatriates are more likely to be viewed as “real” nationals than are native-born children of immigrants. 

LGBT People

Majorities in 16 of the 25 countries* where the question was asked (including 75% or more in France, Canada, Chile, Belgium, and Sweden) consider someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender to be a “real” national. However, a majority or a plurality in four countries (Japan, Serbia, South Korea and Turkey) are not sure and a majority in two countries (Saudi Arabia and Malaysia) think an LGBT person is not a “real” national.

People with Extreme Political Views

A majority of people in four countries surveyed (South Africa, the U.S., France, and Canada) and a plurality in six other countries think someone with extreme political views is a “real” national. A majority in Saudi Arabia and a plurality in five countries think someone with extreme political views is “not a real” national. In Japan and five other countries, the prevailing response is “not sure.”

People with a Criminal Background

The view that someone who has been convicted of a crime and incarcerated is a “real” national is shared by a majority of adults in only seven countries surveyed (chief among them South Africa and Canada) and by a plurality in ten other countries. A plurality in Saudi Arabia and a majority in Malaysia consider that a felon is “not a real” national of their country. A majority in two countries (Japan and Serbia) and a plurality in four other countries say they are not be sure if that is the case. 

Armed Forces Veterans

Three out of four adults globally (73%), including at least 65% of adults in all but three of 25 countries*, think that someone who has served in the armed forces is a “real” national. This view is most widespread in the U.S. (86%) as well as Malaysia and Canada (85% each). However, it is shared by only three in five adults in Serbia and Germany (59% each) while a majority in Japan (62%) are not sure. 

Self-Perception as a "Real" National

China and India are the two countries in the study where the sense of being an integral part of the nation is most widely shared: 98% in China consider themselves as “real” Chinese and the same percentage in India view themselves as “real” Indians. Self-perception as a “real” national is least prevalent in Saudi Arabia (where 28% do not view themselves as “real” Saudis and 7% are not sure), Great Britain (where 17% say they don’t view think of themselves as “real” Britons and 24% are not sure) and Japan (where 7% don’t think of themselves as “real” Japanese and 29% are not sure).

International Experience and Connections

On average across the 27 countries surveyed, 70% have ever been in another country during their lifetime. Above-average levels of international experience are seen in all European countries (excluding Russia), Australia, Canada, and China. Overall, 16% were born abroad or have lived abroad with the highest proportions (around three in ten) in Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden and the lowest (6%) in Brazil. Globally, 62% have traveled outside of their country with wide variations across countries – from 80% or more in Serbia, Sweden and Belgium to less than 40% in Brazil and Mexico. 

Overall, 68% across the 27 countries have some international connection, i.e., interactions with relatives, friends or work contacts who live abroad or with relatives, friends or casual acquaintances who were born abroad. Countries with the largest percentages of people having some international contacts (80%+) are Serbia, Sweden, South Africa, and India. The country where it is by far the lowest is Japan.

  • 33% globally have relatives abroad with whom they keep in touch (from 63% in Serbia, 54% in Peru and 51% in Mexico to 4% in Japan, 14% in China and 17% each in the U.S. and Brazil).
  • 36% globally have personal friends abroad with whom they keep in touch (from 58% in Serbia, 52% in South Africa, and 47% each in India and Turkey to 9% in Japan, 25% each in South Korea and the U.S., and 26% in Russia).
  • 18% globally often communicate with people abroad as part of their job (from 35% in India, 29% in South Africa, 27% in Malaysia and 26% in China to 3% in Japan, 9% in Brazil, and 10% in France and South Korea).
  • 15% have immediate family members who were born abroad (from 36% in Australia, 27% in Sweden, and 26% in Canada to 3% in Japan and 6% in China).
  • 19% have close friends where they live who were born abroad (from 36% in Sweden and 34% in Australia to 6% in each of Japan and South Korea).
  • 27% have casual acquaintances where they live who were born abroad (from 53% in Sweden, 42% in Australia to 7% in Japan and 11% in Brazil).

*Not asked in China and India

**Not asked in China

About the Study

The survey was conducted in 27 countries via the Ipsos Online Panel system: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. Interviews were conducted with 20,767 adults aged 18-64 in Canada and the U.S. and 16-64 in all other countries between April 20 and May 4, 2018.

Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Hungary, India, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample of approximately 500+.

Weighting has been employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country census data. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points for a sample of 1,000 and an estimated margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points for a 500 sample 19 times out of 20.

In 17 of the 27 countries surveyed internet penetration is sufficiently high to think of the samples as representative of the wider population within the age ranges covered: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain and United States.

Brazil, Chile, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey have lower levels of internet penetration and so these samples should not be considered to be fully nationally representative, but instead to represent a more affluent, connected population. These are still a vital social group to understand in these countries, representing an important and emerging middle class.

For more information on this news release please contact:

Nicolas Boyon
Senior Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 212.293.6544
[email protected]

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In Canada, the U.S., UK, and internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,780.5 million in 2017.

The author(s)
  • Nicolas Boyon Senior Vice President and Ipsos Global Advisor Lead

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