Patriotism in Britain reduces with each generation

July 14, 2015, 3:16 PM GMT+0

Young British people are very unlikely to be strongly patriotic – but patriotism in Germany is significantly lower

Britain may briefly have felt patriotic in 2012, when Jubilee parties and the London Olympics stirred a dormant pride, but even in the past decade there’s been a significant drop in patriotism, and when YouGov tested the nation on the 'Life in the UK' exam that all aspiring immigrants must pass to gain citizenship, 51% of young people failed.

A recent YouGov survey reveals the scale that patriotism is waning in Britain. British people may become more patriotic as they grow older, but 18-24 year-olds are so much less as likely than over-60s to be 'very' patriotic (15% compared to 49%) that even if a significant proportion of the younger generation turn proud in their old age, this cohort will still be considerably less patriotic than today's older generation.

How do we compare?

The survey was also conducted in 9 other countries across four continents. Compared to the two main superpower nations – America and China – where 49% and 48% respectively say they are ‘very’ patriotic, Britain is trailing. Here the figure is 32%.

But in comparison to Germany, where history has weakened the appeal of national pride and patriotism has become associated with the far-right (the Pegida movement stands for "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West"), Britain seems positively patriotic. In Germany, only 9% say they are very patriotic.

The most patriotic nation surveyed is Thailand (58% say they are very patriotic), where the popular king is seen as a stabilising force in a politically fractured society. Thailand’s current government, instated in a 2014 military coup, has offered citizens free haircuts and cinema tickets to a nationalist film. It is illegal to criticise the king in Thailand.

Most of the countries surveyed have similar levels of mild patriotism – the proportions choosing 'slightly' patriotic fall within an 11 point range of the average (35%) – and most countries are unlikely to say they are not at all patriotic. Actual non-patriotism (choosing 'not very' or 'not at all' patriotic), however, is relatively high in other Asia-Pacific nations.

The surveys were carried out by YouGov UK, YouGov Germany, YouGov America and YouGov Asia Pacific. Asia-Pac surveys representative of online populations.

See the full British results

See the full global results