Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Patriots Act

You may have heard that Singaporeans rated Singapore the 31st most exciting city out of 32 cities.

But there's another survey by YouGov on 19 countries and the views of people in the countries in Oct 2016.

One of the question was how patriotic the respondents felt. Or rather they were asked if they thought that their country was the best in the world.

The country with the most people answering patriotically is... (drumroll)...


41% of the over 1000 respondents said that "My country is the Best Country in the World".

Another 32% responded that "My country is better than most other".

Only 7% of Singaporean respondents, in comparison, said that their country was the best, with 55% saying that we were better than most. In this we were similar to Sweden (also 7/55%). And somewhat similar to Denmark (13/57%), Norway (11/59%), and Finland (11/52%).

Countries somewhat similar to the US (scoring over 70% with "best" and "better") are Australia (34+41= 75%), India (35+36= 71%), and UAE (27+49= 76%).

1% of Singaporeans said that Singapore was the worst. Another 7% said we were not as good as most other countries.

For the US, the numbers were 1% (worst), and 4% (not as good).

Across the 19 countries, 3 had no one feeling that their country was the worst (Denmark, Norway, and India). Most had 1% responding that their country was the worst - Great Britain, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia and Philippines each had 2% claiming that their countries was the worst.

Malaysia had 3%.

And France and Vietnam both had 4% feeling like they lived in the worst country in the world.

So it would seem that almost every country has a small percentage (maybe just 1%) who think they live in the very worst country in the world.

Moving on out

Another question asked was, would you move to another country of your choice if you had the opportunity. 66% of Singaporeans said yes, 27% said no.

For the US, 33% said yes, 55% said no.

For respondents from Great Britain, 45% said yes, and 42% said no. Almost tied. Same for Finland (41% yes, 48% no), and Indonesia (48%-47%).

Malaysians were similar to Singapore (67/27%), as were India (63/32%), UAE (66/26%), and Saudi Arabia (63/26%).

Vietnam and Philippines had the highest  percentage of would-be emigrants - 78% for Vietnam, 75% for Philippines.

"Patriots" and Would-be Emigrants

Another interesting stats is the percentage of people who answered "don't know" to the "best country in the world" question.

Of course if you feel that it is the best, you would say that it is the best. And if you fee it is the worst, you'd say that it is the worst. But if things are getting bad, but you still feel loyal to your country, and you don't want to appear disloyal, then you may say "don't know" to indicate your uncertain feelings for your country's "greatness". But of course, for most surveys there will be a percentage of indecisive people. But if the percentage is very high, it may indicate uncertainty about the country rather than an individual's indecisiveness.

Saudi Arabia has 14% saying they don't know if Saudi is the best or worst compared to other countries. That's rather high.

The next highest percentage is 8% by Germany and France. Interesting.

Great Britain is next at 7%.

Then the US at 6%.

UAE & Sweden are next at 5%.

At 4% are Denmark, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. This seems to be the modal group, so maybe 4% "I don't know" is the baseline.

But there are countries with fewer than 4% - Finland, Norway, Singapore, Vietnam and India have 3%.

Philippines have the most "decisive" people with only 2% who "don't know" if their country is best or worst or somewhere in between.

Should you believe the surveys?

I am leery of surveys.

Especially surveys that are based on self-report such as the above ("Best Country") and the Timeout survey of most exciting cities (SG's #31!).

IMHO, the Timeout survey was facetious. So what if you find out that Chicagoans think their city is exciting whereas Singaporeans don't think SG is? Did the respondents compare Chicago with Singapore? Have a significant proportion of respondents been to both these cities? And can make a comparison?

It's as good as doing a survey of parents to see if they think their kids are above average in intelligence. I'll bet a high percentage (maybe 75% or more) thinks their kids are above average. Which says good things about the parents' opinion of their child, but nothing objective about the child's actual intelligence.

So here's the top 29 countries on the human development index.

This is a more objective survey in that the score and ranking of the countries are based on objective information.

So this makes for an interesting study and comparison across the subjective and the objective - is there a correlation between patriotism and ranking on the human development index (HDI)?

The HDI measures life expectancy, health, education, and income. The longer you can expect to live, the better your health, the more education you have, and the higher your income, the higher your country's HDI score and rank. So if your HDI score is high, your country would be better than most countries in life expectancy, health, education, and income, and so would objectively be a better if not the best country in the world. 

Take the US which had the most patriotic response with 41% believing that the US is the Best Country in the World.

Their ranking on the HDI? 10th.

That's pretty high, right? So everyone else should be lower in rank than the US if there is any correlation between the percentage of citizens believing that their country is best in the world, and their country's ranking on the HDI, right?

Take Singapore. Only 7% said SG was the best in the world.

SG's HDI rank? 5th. Tied with Denmark. Which had 13% believing that Denmark was the best country in the world.

The next most "patriotic" country, is India with 36% believing that India is the best country. Their HDI rank?


And so I think we can conclude that survey results that are based on subjective opinions speak to the attitudes and temperaments of those surveyed more and not to the issue being surveyed.

In other words, just because more Chicagoans think their city is exciting compared to Singaporeans and their views about Singapore doesn't mean that Chicago is more exciting that Singapore. Or that Singapore is less exciting than Chicago. Or the other 30 cities.

It could just mean that Chicagoans are easily impressed.

Or that Singaporeans are jaded.

But there is a more important question to ask: What excites you?

These are 25 attractions in Chicago (link).

 Do they excite you? Do you want to go to any of these attractions? If we have these in SG, would that mean that we would be #1?

If you look through the list of 25 Chicago attractions, you will find a lot of parks and museums. When was the last time you went to one of those in SG? Are you excited about parks and museums?
Or is your idea of "exciting" more akin to most Singaporeans?

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