July 3, 2013

A generational gap in American patriotism


Compared to other generations, a smaller percentage of Millennials say the U.S. is the greatest country in the world.

Characterized by fireworks, barbecues and a trio of American colors, Independence Day commemorates United States history and celebrates patriotism. But a 2011 Pew Research report identified a significant generation gap in views about American exceptionalism and patriotism.

When Americans were asked if they think the United States is the greatest country in the world, there were sharp differences in the responses across generations. In total, 48% of Americans believe the United States is the greatest country in the world and 42% believe it is one of the greatest countries in the world, but a significant portion of the Millennial generation responded differently.

FT_13.07.03_IndependenceDay_640x300Just 32% of Millennials believe the U.S. is the greatest country in the world. That number progressively increases among the Gen X (48%), Boomer (50%) and Silent generations (64%). Millennials were also the most likely generation to say America is not the greatest country in the world (11%).

Millennials also are less likely than their elders to express patriotism. A majority of Millennials (70%) agreed with the statement “I am very patriotic.” But even larger percentages of Gen Xers (86%), Boomers (91%) and Silents (90%) said the same. This generational gap is consistent and has been identified in surveys dating back to 2003.

Despite their comparatively low level of patriotism, Millennials are more optimistic about the nation’s current state of affairs as well as its future. Compared to Boomers and Silents, a slightly greater percentage of Millennials (55%) and Gen Xers (55%) think the country’s best days are ahead. In total, half of Americans (51%) say that’s the case.

The survey also found a cross-generational common ground in views about the factors that have led to America’s success. More than 90% of respondents from each generation said the country’s freedoms – more than any other factor – have been very important in contributing to America’s success.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Baby Boomers, Generations and Age, National and Cultural Identity, Older Adults, Millennials

  1. is a former editorial intern at the Pew Research Center.


  1. Natsickofit3 years ago

    I think what interests me the most is not the article, because it is obvious and redundant, but the comments of the readers. My hope is that the people of this country begin to accept and speak the truth about what is going on in this country as far as the economy and why it continue to spiral out of control. This country is not truly run by a government that cares for its people and wants to be a government for the PEOPLE. This country is run by big business. What ever allows them to maintain control and power over all resources, they will use to continue to be in control. You would have to be walking around with blinders on not to have noticed that especially during the Reagan years the disparity between the income of the wealthy and the income of the working and poor has grown considerably. Meanwhile the cost of living has also grown exponentially. The truth is that we are a country of human beings, just the same as any other country, but we have to stop thinking like the people of every other country and start living and working for a better future for all Americans, not just the ones we like. This is a country, not the good-old-boys club. If we don’t wake up soon, we will go the way of all other countries that have decided they can not rise above selfish greed and the fear of the unknown.

  2. Mary Anne Gallagher3 years ago

    I think we are a great country and am thrilled that I was born here. There is always room for improvement. We need to listen to other countries and have open discussions to make this world the best it can be. I sometimes see our country as consumed by the almighty dollar and seemingly not cognizant of many of our citizens that are barely holding on.


    The gap between rich and poor is caused by the fact that there is no incentive to work. The more the government provides and gives to people that are unemployed, the more people are relaxed about getting fired or losing there jobs. Being unemployed should be scary, and you should strive to get out. The “old guys”, would feel ashamed and embarrassed. Now unemployment is not a big deal. Less government control and handouts would be exceptional. and yes there are minimum wage jobs as your point out in number nine. But not everyone can be CEO’s of companies. You need people to take those kind of jobs. Obamacare is going to make unemployment and poverty rise. Making the gap between rich and poor larger. Pushing us into the “haves” and the “have nots”. The beauty of America is that you can be anything you want to be. But you have to work for it. My family is struggling to pay bills but i managed to work my ass off and get a scholarship to college and i will one day be able to live comfortably. There are ways out of poverty, people just dont have a reason to leave it. But they feel the need to complain about it and blame the government. Its a free country. The more you ask for the government to put its hand in individual affairs instead of the country as a whole, the more towards socialism and communism we go.

    1. Matt Scheaffer3 years ago

      There is no incentive to work because people know they can work 60 hours a week, two jobs and STILL have to use public assistance since the capitalists have kept wages artificially low for decades while the cost of living has gone up. Quit listening to banker propaganda. It hasn’t gotten this country anything except a richer 1%.

  4. OTTAVIAJOHNSON4 years ago


  5. Jude4 years ago

    Believing your country is the greatest in the world is not patriotism. It is chauvinism.

  6. delia ruhe4 years ago

    I tend to agree that America’s best days may be ahead, but they may be very far ahead unless America starts dismantling its empire soon.

  7. Robert Burns4 years ago

    When your life’s problems are superfluous fluff created most likely by the media and you’ve found
    that you have spent your supposedly productive years selling products on the Internet to others
    trying to sell to you; it’s then that I want you to define patriotism to me. The concept of value has
    been replaced with the idea of Social Networking and you had better believe that all of this Social
    Networking is in place to sell you something, anything. Values and patriotism along with pride of
    place are old fashioned terms used to bolster your self esteem but today’s kids have cyber space.
    That’s a vast nothingness filled with non connectors. Enjoy your ride because it will come to a very
    rough termination.

  8. apetra4 years ago

    Public education is working …

    All according to plan.

    1. LastGasp4 years ago

      But, whose plan?