As the pandemic enters its second year and continues to wreak havoc on global economies and social fabrics, most people agree that their society is now more divided than before the pandemic, according to a new survey from the nonpartisan fact tank Pew Research Center that collected responses across 17 advanced economies.
The study, which surveyed 16,254 non-U.S. residents and 2,596 U.S. residents, indicates that while a median of 34% of people around the world say they feel more united in their respective countries since the coronavirus pandemic, about 61% say that “national divisions have worsened since the outbreak began.”
In the United States in particular — following a year of social unrest, divide over the seriousness of the pandemic among both the public and lawmakers, and economic strife for low-income and middle class people — 88% of people surveyed say the country is more divided than before the pandemic. The U.S. holds the highest percentage of respondents to share this view among all of the 17 countries surveyed.
European respondents also report more social division since the pandemic, although in lesser proportions than American respondents. Majorities of respondents in seven out of nine of the European countries surveyed say that their countries are more divided now than before the pandemic, with 8 out of 10 respondents in the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain reporting increased division.
Respondents in the Asia-Pacific region hold more positive outlooks, albeit varied. While the majority of respondents in Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand and Singapore report more unity now than before the pandemic, those in Japan and South Korea feel more divided now.
The study shows that perceptions about social division among the respondents are also linked to their attitudes toward restrictions on public activity that occurred during the pandemic. In multiple countries, survey respondents who say their countries should have implemented fewer restrictions are more likely to believe their country has become more divided than it was pre-pandemic than those who say their countries should have implemented more restrictions, or those who say the restrictions their country implemented were “about right.”
Among other major findings from the survey:
— Respondents in the Asia-Pacific region are more likely to say that restrictions on social activity related to coronavirus in their countries were “about right,” as a median of 63% hold that view.
— Survey participants in North America and Western Europe are more likely to say that restrictions on social activity related to the pandemic “did not go far enough in their own countries.”
— Those who have a negative view of their country’s economy are more likely to say their society is more divided now than it was pre-pandemic than those who think their country’s economy is in “good shape.”
— Although a median of 40% across countries believe their country has done a poor job of handling the pandemic, majorities in every country surveyed express confidence that their country’s health care system could handle a future public health crisis.
More from U.S. News
People Across the World Say Pandemic Has Increased Social Division originally appeared on usnews.com