The majority of people in the world still primarily define themselves by their national identity, a survey of 18 different countries has found.
The poll conducted by GlobeScan for the BBC World Service found that 52 per cent of respondents across the world define themselves by their nationality before anything else. In contrast 17 per cent see themselves as “world citizens” and 11 per cent self-define according to local identity.
A further nine per cent see their religion as their primary identity and eight per cent think their race or culture is the most important characteristic.
In a result that will make interesting reading in the run up to the Brexit referendum, 50 per cent of Brits either disagree somewhat or strongly disagree with the statement “I see myself more as a global citizen than a citizen of my country”, while 47 per cent agree.
The figure is even higher in Germany, with 57 disagreeing and just 30 per cent agreeing.
The results will come as a blow to global idealists such as open borders advocates, and supporters of supra-national groups such as the European Union and United Nations, as the majority of the world’s population still seem to identify with nation states.
The countries where a majority of people see themselves more as “global citizens” tend either to be poorer or have recently gone through economic turmoil. In Nigeria, for example, a huge 73 per cent agree with the statement while 70 per cent of Peruvians also agree.
Notable exceptions are wealthy Canada and China, which each have a majority of citizens in agreement.
After nearly a decade of economic turmoil and high unemployment, national identity has taken a battering in Spain, with just 28 per cent of Spaniards saying their nation is the most important aspect of their identity. By contrast, 54 per cent claim to be “global citizens”.
With the onset of the migrant crisis in Europe, global idealists are stepping up their campaign to bring down national borders.
Billionaire investor George Soros said in November 2015 that he views national borders as “the obstacle”, as over a million migrants poured into Europe from the Middle East and North Africa.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán accused of him and the pro-immigrant non-governmental organisations that he funds of “drawing a living from the immigration crisis.”