Younger generations care less about national identity despite Trump presidency, study shows


You may not know it from President Trump’s recently-issued travel ban targeting citizens of seven Muslim majority countries, but most people around the world have more freedom to travel than at any point since the 19th century. And they are using that freedom in record numbers.

According to the World Bank, the number of international tourist arrivals increased from about 540 million in the year 1995 to over 1.1 billion in 2014 — a more than 53 percent increase. In addition, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has shown that outflow migration worldwide almost doubled from just under 1.25 million in 2000 all the way up to 2.3 million in 2013. Such long-term increases in migration have helped to make immigration arguably the most red hot political issue in modern societies today, and has created a big surge in populist parties vowing to end what they malign as “open borders” extremism.

This has lead many supporters of liberal immigration policies to preemptively write the obituary to the era of globalization and ever-greater freedom of movement. But fortunately what is actually happening is simply the last gasp of nationalism in a world where existing power structures are collapsing in favor of less national and more individual and global identity.

The Pew Research Center today just released a study gauging the attitudes of various age groups on the question of national identity and assimilation. As you might expect, the results show that the kids are very tolerant but that the parents, on the other hand, are in desperate of a spring break trip to Vietnam:

Among 18- to 34-year-olds in European Union countries surveyed, a median of 23% say being born in one’s country is very important to national identity. Four-in-ten of those ages 50 and older agree, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last spring. The divide between the young and the old over birthright nationality is quite wide in certain European countries: 21 percentage points in the United Kingdom and 16 points each in Greece and Spain.
In the U.S., there is a 19-point division between the youngest and oldest adult generations. And, while only 19% of older Australians say birthplace is very important to nationality, just 4% of Australian millennials accord such importance to being born in Australia.
Among Japanese, there is a 30-percentage-point generation gap on the link between national identity and place of birth: 59% of older Japanese say it is very important to have been born in their country to be truly Japanese, while only 29% of younger Japanese agree.

The study goes on:

Views on the importance of culture to national identity also split along generational lines. A majority (55%) of older Americans but only 28% of younger adults believe it is very important that a person share U.S. national customs and traditions to be truly American. There is a similar 20-point generation gap in Australia, Canada and Japan.
A median of 37% of 18- to 34-year-olds in the EU say that sharing national customs and traditions is very important to being a true national. And 56% of those ages 50 and older agree. The generational divide over the importance of culture to national identity is larger in some European countries: the UK (24 percentage points), France (23 points) and Greece (21 points).

In a nutshell, the world has has become so integrated that more and more people are looking over the proverbial fence to their neighbor’s backyard and realizing there’s nothing to be afraid of.


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