New wide-ranging YouGov data gives insight into the Australian identity
The YouGov data has revealed fascinating insights into the Australian identity, its place in the world, and its many contradictions. Photograph: Paul Braven/AAP
Lovers of regulation, supporters of same-sex couples and very liberal when it comes to abortion – this is how a sample of a thousand Australians perceive themselves.
Australia is a country that accepts gay couples, hates the big banks, considers second-generation migrants “Australian”, but the majority feel negatively towards Islam.
New wide-ranging data released by YouGov has revealed fascinating insights into the Australian identity, its place in the world, and its many contradictions.
Australians were the second-highest out of 23 countries surveyed in not considering where someone’s parents come from as relevant to identifying as Australian, but in our personal lives, 47% admitted to having “very few” or no close friends of a different ethnic background. And 80% of us believe women still suffer discrimination, but a third also think the women’s rights movement has gone too far.
Older Australians, perhaps surprisingly, are just as supportive of gender equality as their younger counterparts. In some cases, more so. But generational fault lines opened up over same-sex relationships (those under 45 vs over 45) and the acceptance of transgender Australians (under 35 and over 35)
What is the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project?
Questions about populist attitudes and convictions were inserted in order to derive a “populist cohort”, and discover what this group of people think about major world issues from immigration to vaccination, social media and globalization.
The full methodology can be found here.
Across 1,006 Australians, and thousands more around the world, the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project has already shed light on Australians’ sentiments towards immigration and our institutions. Here are some of its other insights:
Islam and other religions
51% of Australians had unfavourable sentiments towards Islam, and only 10% looked upon the religion positively, making Australia more negative than 17 of the other 22 countries surveyed.
In fact, 37% of people said they were “very unfavourable”– the most negative response available. This was far higher than the milder option of “fairly unfavourable” (14%), and made it the single most common response to the religion. 23% of people were neutral.
The poll found only 10% looked upon Islam positively, making Australia more negative than 17 of the other 22 countries surveyed. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
In comparison, 45% of Australians were positive towards Christianity, and 21% were negative.
Judaism had a favorability rating of 18%, and unfavourability of 20%. The largest segment was “neither favourable nor unfavourable” and “don’t know” – which added to 58%.
Age was one of the biggest factors that correlated with anti-Islam sentiment.
Those aged 45 and over had negative sentiments above 60%, and positive sentiments at 5% or lower. Those between 25 and 34 had negative sentiments 30 points lower (31%), and positive sentiments at 20%. Those 18-24 had similarly high positivity, but higher negativity too (at 41%).
Diversity of friends
That number changed when it was widened to include “broad friendship group”, but 24% of Australians still said they had “very few” friends who were different from them, even broadly.
Despite the high figures, this was actually better than many other countries. Australians had lower rates among the “none” and “very few” categories, and higher rates in the “about half” and “less than half” for their broad friends.
Unsurprisingly, this correlated with more negative views on globalisation. Of the people who thought globalisation negatively affected their standard of living and had increased crime, 33% and 32% respectively said they had very few broad friends of different backgrounds (10 points higher than the national average).
However, this result could have been skewed slightly by the fact that Anglo-Australians were overrepresented in the survey’s sample.
85% of those surveyed said English alone was their first language. While the Australian census does not record first language exactly, it records what languages people speak at home, and in 2016, only 72.7% of the population spoke English and no other languages.
Australians are very reluctant to identify with their geographic region.
While some in France identify strongly as European, Australians are more likely to identify as a “citizen of the world”, before they identify as a member of the Asia-Pacific.