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, Millennials, National and Cultural Identity, Older Adults

  1. is an Intern at the Pew Research Center.

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  1. Leaving America2 months ago

    Good. Maybe it’s a sign Americans are finally outgrowing their childish knee-jerk chauvinism dressed up as patriotism. Maybe millennials are more open minded than their predecessors who were raised on a steady diet of “my country right or wrong”. Perhaps millennials, with less of a psychological investment in the myth of inherent American superiority (because they’re younger, hence less time for the patriotic brainwashing to poison their minds) tend to look at things more objectively and say “If America is the greatest country in the world then why does it have:
    1.the worst health care system in the industrialized world?
    2.a laughingstock of a kangaroo court judicial system that is inconsistent, arbitrary and capricious?
    3.the most unrepresentative government in the industrialized world, basically just a hand puppet of the billionaires and corporations that own this country?
    4.the worst educational system in the industrialized world with the terrible test scores to prove it?
    5.pretty much NO worker rights, where a worker can be fired for even TALKING about labor unions and with a N.L.R.B. that sits on its hands and does nothing to stick up for the workers?
    6.the worst poverty in the industrialized world including some third-world pockets of poverty that would make Mexico blush?
    7.the largest gap between rich and poor in the developed world by far?
    8.a military that has more money lavished on it than the rest of the world’s militaries combined but yet cannot even finish off the Taliban which are now making a comeback and control most of Afghanistan again even though they are armed with homemade bombs and have no air force?
    9.a dying manufacturing sector being replaced by an economy that offers such wonderful jobs as those that involve asking “Would you like fries with that?” or “Will that be cash or credit?”

    So if millennials are not so easily swayed by propaganda telling them that anyone who sees America for what it is is a bad person, then that’s a very good thing. Maybe this country is finally growing up.


      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.

  2. OTTAVIAJOHNSON6 months ago


  3. Jude7 months ago

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

  4. delia ruhe7 months 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.

  5. Robert Burns10 months 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.

  6. apetra10 months ago

    Public education is working …

    All according to plan.

    1. LastGasp10 months ago

      But, whose plan?