Do people identify as global or national citizens? New report suggests a tipping point, but North and South heading in opposite directions

May 19, 2016

     By Duncan Green     

This is interesting, and feels like it could be part of a big normative shift. According to a new report from Globescan (a polling company), across 20,000 people in 18 countries ‘more than half (51%) see themselves more as global citizens than citizens of their country, against 43 per cent who identify nationally. This is the first time since tracking began in 2001 that there is a global majority who leans this way.’

What the poll also shows is a gap opening up between North and South. The 2016 shift is driven by rapid increases in global identification in Nigeria, China, India and elsewhere (see graph, which covers only the 14 countries tracked since 2001, hence slight disparities in the numbers).Globescan global citizenship poll













The Globescan report doesn’t speculate on the reasons for this, so here are a few random thoughts to get you started.

North and South start to diverge around 2009, which would suggest a link to the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, which hit developed economies harder than others. It would make sense for economic crisis to promote insularity and a retreat from global identity.

What’s driving the opposite, growing sense of global identity in countries such as India and China? Economic rise? Greater connection through improved media links with the rest of the world?

To what extent do the results tell us much about what people really think? Maybe it has just become more socially acceptable to be chauvinist in the North, and less so in the South, so people’s sense of what they ought to tell pollsters is the only thing that has changed? What other evidence is there that would confirm/challenge these findings? There are plenty of signs of disenchantment with globalization in the rich countries – just look at the fate of assorted trade negotiations. What evidence is there for a countervailing globophilia in China, India etc?

If this is true, it feels massive – a seismic and global normative shift in how people see themselves. What could be the long term political/economic implications of such a transformation?

One cautionary note: I am told that some people have doubts about Globescan’s methodology. That stuff is all way over my head, but is meat and drink to the nerdy end of the FP2P readership – over to you (and h/t to Barney Tallack for passing on the report)