Written by Anisa Holmes, data journalist & designer at Dalia Research
In Berlin you can’t throw a stone without hitting a tattoo shop. And walking the crowded streets sans-tattoo can almost make you feel more conspicuous. When did having a tattoo become so normal? And is this phenomenon limited to Berlin? We at Dalia wanted some answers, so we conducted a survey on tattoos in 18 countries around the world.
The results show 38% of global respondents say they have at least one tattoo. What’s more, most people aren’t satisfied with just one tattoo. Among tattooed people, 1/4 have one tattoo and 3/4 have 2 tattoos or more.
The most heavily tatted countries
Comparing the survey results by country, we found that Italy has the highest percent of tattooed people at 48%. Following Italy are Sweden and the US with 47% and 46%, respectively.
Italians, however are less likely to have multiple tattoos than Americans or Swedes. Tattooed Americans and Swedes have the most tattoos per person: For most other countries, the median number of tattoos per person is near 3, but in the USA and Sweden it’s around 4. This means that half of tatted Americans and Swedes have 4 or more tattoos. Greeks have the lowest median, at 2.5.
Don’t Blame Millennials
While many attribute the growing popularity of tattoos to rebellious, soul-searching millennials, our results show this isn’t exactly the case. We found that those with tattoos don’t fall neatly into the stereotypical image of the tatted barista or the world-weary sailor. Instead, tattoos are actually more common among the people you’d least expect.
Young people don’t have the highest rate of tattoos: 32% of respondents age 14 to 29 have a tattoo compared to 45% of people age 30 to 49 and 28% of people over 50. And contrary to popular belief, more women (40%) than men (36%) have tattoos.
Tattoos are also more popular among those with higher levels of education (32%) than those with lower levels of education (26%). High education’s link with tattoo likelihood holds true even when gender and age are held constant in a regression. Additionally, we found that the urban population (32%) has a higher share of inked individuals than the rural population (26%).
But what about a tattoo you don’t want anymore? While some opt to get the tattoo altered to change its meaning, some can only be fixed through tattoo removal surgery, which is luckily becoming increasingly affordable and accessible. According to Market Research Future, the global tattoo removal industry is expected to reach almost $4.8 billion by 2023.
When Dalia asked respondents if they regret getting their tattoos, the majority (72%) say they don’t. Swedes, Danes and Israelis are the most regretful, with 38%, 37% and 37%, respectively. The least regretful among the respondents are the Italians (15%) and Greeks (17%).
So what’s stopping you? Never before has it been so socially acceptable to get a tattoo. Just make sure you spell check before getting inked!
If you have any questions about our surveys, or are interested in running your own survey projects, you can get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.