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‘Most ignorant’ countries revealed in new poll

Italy has been named as "most ignorant" country in a new poll which gauged how much citizens know about their country's social affairs, with the United States coming in second.

A job seeker fills out an application during a career fair at the Southeast Community Facility Commission in San Francisco.
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A job seeker fills out an application during a career fair at the Southeast Community Facility Commission in San Francisco.

Market research organisation, Ipsos MORI asked 14 developed countries from across the globe to take part in a study which documented how much each country knew about their own population's framework and social issues.

The nine social topics involved questions discussing teenage pregnancy, immigration, unemployment and life expectancy. The first study of its kind had based its findings against the actual statistics relevant to each country.

Italians estimated unemployment levels in the country at 49 percent, instead of the actual 12 percent rate of unemployment. Respondents in the country also believed that around half of the population (48 percent) were over 65, when actually only 21 percent is.


Following on from Italy, the U.S. came in second with its overestimated views on teenage pregnancy (21 percent above) and unemployment (26 percent above).

Sweden was identified as having the lowest level of "ignorance".

Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, Bobby Duffy, said that it was important for policymakers and the media to take note about the misperceptions that the public has.

The poll shows people underestimate the amount of Christians as well as voting participation, with both at least a 10 percent higher than estimated on average.

Every country underestimated its voting statistics, with France believing that only 57 percent of the population voted, when in fact 80 percent of France voted in the last election.

Duffy went on to add that the survey was aimed "to look at the gap between perception and reality".

The only category which was estimated accurately was life expectancy, with the average guess levelling out to 80 years (actual was 80.5 years).

Ipsos MORI specializes in global market research and surveys, and is the U.K.'s second largest market research company.

The 'Ipsos MORI Perils of Perception survey' was conducted during August 2014 and polled 11,527 individuals aged 16-64 (18-64 in Canada and the U.S.).

When the relevant national figures become available, Ipsos MORI hopes to expand upon its findings in the future by looking at other measures, such as "how much tax do rich people pay" and how much "Europe contributes to Britain" and vice versa.

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