Pew agrees that the U.S. and Europe share many common beliefs, including fundamental democratic principles and high living standards, for instance. But the two regions of the world diverge quite a bit in five important areas, including perspectives on individualism, the role of government, free expression, religion and morality.
Culled from Pew’s Global Attitudes Survey over the past several years, the results probably won’t surprise you but clearly illustrate the differences you will find if you decide to live in Europe.
For example, on the subject of individualism 57 percent of Americans disagree that success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside of our control, a strong indicator of belief in the power of the individual. The United Kingdom comes closest to the American belief in individualism with 55 percent disagreeing that forces outside of our control determine success in life. Germany, on the other hand, holds a contrary belief. Less than one-third of Germans disagree with the statement.
Another big marker that differentiates Americans from Europeans is our belief in individual liberty versus state guarantees. In the U.S., 58 percent believe that we should have the freedom to pursue our goals without state interference. The U.K. is second in that belief but only 38 percent are in agreement. Only 20 percent of Lithuanians, though, believe in individual liberty and only 30 percent in Spain.
America also is a lot more tolerant of offensive speech, particularly when it comes to religion and minorities. Nearly 80 percent of Americans think it is OK to make statements that are offensive to your religion or beliefs in public. In Italy, just 29 percent think it is all right to use offensive speech.