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The World Values Survey (WVS) examines the changing values of societies and the impact of these changes on social and political life. The WVS is composed of nationally representative surveys conducted in almost 100 countries that represent almost 90 percent of the world’s population. Initiated in 1981, the WVS is the largest non-commercial, cross-national, time series investigation of human beliefs and values ever executed. The survey repository includes interviews with almost 400,000 respondents, covering all of the world’s major cultural zones.

Among the dozens of questions that World Values asks is one about tolerance for other races. World Values asked respondents in more than 80 countries to identify the kinds of people they would not want as neighbors. Some respondents, picking from a list, chose "people of a different race." The more frequently that people in a given country gave that response, the less racially tolerant the society is rated.

Quick Facts:

  • Anglo and Latin countries most tolerant. People in the survey were most likely to embrace a racially diverse neighbor in the United Kingdom and its former colonies (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US) and in Latin America.
  • Wide variation across Europe. Immigration and national identity are pervasive, sensitive issues in much of Europe, where the racial make-up is changing.
  • Racial tolerance low in diverse Asian countries. Nations such as the Philippines, where many racial groups often jockey for influence and have complicated histories with one another, showed more skepticism of diversity.
  • Pakistan, remarkably tolerant, an outlier. Although Pakistan has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, and low economic and human development indices – only 15 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race.
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