The United States is one of the most socially conflicted of the world’s advanced economies, the Pew Research Center said Wednesday.
“A large majority of Americans say there are strong political and strong racial and ethnic conflicts in the U.S. and that most people disagree on basic facts,” the D.C.-based nonpartisan group said in disclosing the report, which also named France and South Korea as “strongly conflicted societies.”
According to the Pew survey, 49% of Americans say there are “strong conflicts” between those who practice different religions. Of that number 13% call those conflicts “very strong,” the group said.
In France, 23% said the divide according to religious belief is “very strong,” compared with a 36% median across the 17 nations surveyed who reported “strong conflicts” between those practicing different faiths. The Pew survey found that 61% of South Koreans surveyed said religious conflicts were either strong or very strong in their society.
Along with divisions between religious groups, the Pew research found that 90% of Americans reported conflicts between political parties, and 71% acknowledged conflicts between ethnic and racial groups.
While Democrats and Republicans both believe, by 90%margins, that there are societal conflicts over political parties, far more Democrats, 82%, see ethnicity and race as an area of conflict, some 24 points higher than Republicans, who came in at 82%.
Conflicts between those of different faiths were reported by 56% of Democrats and 39% of Republicans, a 17-point gap. Only 10 percentage points separate the parties on the question of rural/city conflicts, 38% for Republicans and 48% for Democrats.
On the question of “basic facts,” the U.S. comes in second, at 59%, to France’s 61% when respondents said people “can’t agree” on essential details. Italy, Spain, and Belgium are other societies where more than half the population believe there is a fact-based crisis, the survey reported.
“Across most societies surveyed, those who see conflict among partisans are more likely to say people disagree on the basic facts than those who do not see such conflicts,” the survey noted. Except for Italy and the U.S., those who had negative views of the governing parties were more likely to say there was a factual disagreement issue than were those with favorable views of their government.
Pew said they conducted the U.S. survey in February as part of their American Trends Panel. The other 16 nations were surveyed between March and May of 2021, the group said.
Survey details and data are online at https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2021/10/13/diversity-and-division-in-advanced-economies/.