Twenty years on, 80% of Britons still remember where they were on 9/11

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
September 09, 2021, 9:45 AM UTC

YouGov takes a look at how public opinion on the 20th anniversary of the 11 September attacks has changed since the 5th and 10th anniversaries

Two decades have passed since terrorists brought down the Twin Towers in hijacked planes in an unprecedented attack on the US, killing nearly 3,000 people. A new YouGov survey now shows that 80% of Britons can still remember where they were when they heard the news of the incident. Only one in ten people (10%) can’t remember their whereabouts when hearing the news, while another 8% were too young or not yet born.

Britons aged 50 to 64 are the most likely to remember the day, with 93% saying it’s still fresh in their memory. Among 18-24-year-olds, 7% remember where they were when they first heard about the attacks, despite the oldest people in this group having been only four years old at the time.

Fewer Britons believe 9/11 changed the world completely than ten years ago

While a large share of the public are convinced that the world was not the same after 9/11, this number of those believing it became radically different has fallen over time. Two fifths of Britons (42%) say the terrorist incident “changed the world completely” – down from 53% a decade ago. Another 45% believe it changed it “a little”, which is slightly higher than in 2011, at 38%.

Only one in twelve people either say it did not change very much (6%) or not at all (2%), which is similar to previously (5% not very much, 2% not at all).

Three in five Britons (59%) likewise say that the 11 September attacks have had a larger impact on the world than the 2007-08 global financial crisis, a similar figure to the number who said so in 2018 (54%) on the 10th anniversary of the crisis. Around three in ten people (30%) currently believe the financial crisis – which until the coronavirus pandemic had been the worst recession since the 1920s – had a greater impact (from 32% in 2018).

Conservative voters are slightly more likely than Labour members to say the 9/11 attacks had a larger impact on the world at 65% vs 54%.

But while many people still vividly remember hearing about the attacks, and several terror incidents having happened in the UK since, few Britons fear for their safety in this context.

Some 8% of the public believe there’s a ‘very’ (1%) or ‘fairly’ (7%) high chance they or someone close to them would become injured or killed in a terrorist attack. This is similar to both in 2011 (1% very high, 6% fairly high) and 2006 (2% very high, 6% fairly high).

While the proportion of people who feel the odds are high remains the same, fewer people now say the possibility is ‘almost non-existent’ or ‘very low’ than previously.

In 2006 and 2011, one in four Britons (25%) believed there was virtually no chance they or a loved one could become a victim of terrorism, while another 29-30% felt the chance was very low.

Today, only a fifth (18%) regard the possibility as near non-existent, while a quarter (24%) see it as very low. Instead the most common answer is ‘fairly low’ at 36% - 5-6 points higher than in 2011 and 2006.

See the full results here