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Spaniards 'ignorant' on impact of immigration

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Spaniards 'ignorant' on impact of immigration
Spaniards mistakenly believe that the population includes eight times more Muslim people than it actually does. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP
16:58 CET+01:00
Spaniards massively overestimate the number of people in their country who are Muslims, unemployed or teenage mothers, but are well-informed about how long they can expect to live, according to a new 'ignorance index' released on Wednesday.

When asked about social topics ranging from teenage birth rates to life expectancy, unemployment and immigration, Spaniards proved to be the fourth 'least ignorant' of the fourteen nationalities surveyed by polling company Ipsos.

But most of their answers were still way off the mark in the "Perils of Perception" survey.

People from eight countries in Europe were questioned as well as Australian, American, Japanese and South Korean respondents.

Swedes, Germans and Japanese people were found to be less ignorant than the Spanish. Italians were found to be most ignorant, followed by people from the US.

The study included the question: "Out of every 100 people, how many do you think are Muslim?"

In Spain, the correct answer is 2 percent, but Spaniards guessed 16 percent. Similarly  huge differences between perception and reality on this subject were seen in most countries, meaning that Spain placed only midway down the table of false perceptions.

Spaniards also guessed that 16 percent of girls in their country between 15 and 19 gave birth each year. The true figure was one percent.

US citizens thought that 24 percent of teenagers fitted into this category, whereas the actual figure there is three percent. 

Spain's actual unemployment figure of 25 percent was over double that of the real rate in the next-highest country, Italy, but nowhere near the perceived figure of 46 per cent.

Spaniards scored best on life expectancy, guessing 82 compared with an actual age of 81.

Other subjects in the poll included the percentage of Christians in the population, the number of immigrants, voter turnout at elections and murder rates.

Bobby Duffy, managing director of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, said: “These misperceptions present clear issues for informed public debate and policy-making.

"For example, public priorities may well be different if we had a clearer view of the scale of immigration and the real incidence of teenage mothers.

"People also under-estimate 'positive' behaviours like voting, which may be important if people think it is more 'normal' not to vote than it actually is."

More than a thousand volunteers aged between 16 and 64 were quizzed in each country by pollsters, except in the US and Canada where all participants were over 18.

 
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