The United States is still the wellspring of pioneering ambition, according to an October 9 report from the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. The survey focused on inequality, taxation, the free market, and social mobility. From the Pew Center:
A good education and hard work are most often seen as the keys [around the world] to getting ahead in life. This view is especially prevalent in emerging and developing nations, where most see economic opportunity expanding. Still, many also believe success can be determined by things outside a person’s control, such as luck or having a wealthy family.
American respondents diverge from their international compatriots when they deal with the individualistic values at the heart of American success.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans disagree with the statement “Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,” a considerably higher percentage than the global median of 38%. Similarly, Americans place an especially strong emphasis on the value of hard work – 73% think it is very important to work hard in order to get ahead in life, compared with a global median of 50%.
The percentage of respondents who feel that anything is important to getting ahead varies widely between countries and cultures. In Brazil, whose motto is “Order and Progress”, 76 percent of respondents reported that a good education is “very important” to getting ahead. The French, famous for their ennui, didn’t respond above 25 percent for any “getting ahead” category, and almost nine in ten French respondents believed that their children would be financially worse off than themselves.Meanwhile, a full tenth of Italian respondents felt that “giving bribes” is very important to getting ahead, matched only by respondents in places like Russia, the Palestinian territories, and Nigeria. At least we can assure our Italian friends that government economists now include estimates of profits from corruption and prostitution in their measurements of the country’s gross domestic product.Read the full report here.