NEWS » What makes a real Italian? Survey results might surprise you

What makes a real Italian? Survey results might surprise you

What makes a real Italian? Someone might say traditional food, family values  and love for the Italian culture in general. The study by Pew Research Centre asked Italians which factors were "important for being truly Italian". 


The Pew Research Centre survey finds that people generally give a relatively low value to a person’s birthplace. Only 13% of Australians, 21% of Canadians, 32% of Americans and a median of 33% of Europeans believe that it is very important for a person to be born in their country in order to be considered a true national.


The survey was conducted between April and May of last year with more than 14,000 respondents across 14 countries. The study revealed that the most crucial factor in every single country surveyed was the language.


Many people in the countries surveyed were open to those born elsewhere being part of “their nation,” but said it is very important to speak the dominant language to be considered truly a national of that land. This includes a median of 77% in Europe and 70% in Japan, 70% in the U.S., 69% in Australia and 59% in Canada.


Italians were among the populations which considered being born in Italy, in order to be Italian, the highest score, 42 percent said that being born in Italy was "very important" to national identity while the majority said that speaking Italian was the key to Italian identity.


The other countries in Europe, which experienced ongoing migrant crisis such as Hungary and Greece were more likely to say birthplace was an important factor in national identity, at 52 and 50 percent respectively. Also fifty percent of Japanese people deemed important being born in the motherland. 


Only 8 percent of Swedish people considered the place of birth as a determinant factor, and in Germany, Australia and the Netherlands the figure was below 20 percent.


Italians and Canadians gave the lowest score to the language if compared to the others: 84 percent in the Netherlands, 81 percent in Hungary and the UK, and 79 percent in Germany.


Almost half of the Italians thought that sharing national culture and traditions was a key factor. Hungarians prioritized national customs the most, with 68 percent labelling them a very important determiner of national identity, compared to just 26 percent of Swedes.


The survey also looked at whether religion had any influence on national identity. Overall, the majority of the people disagreed, with Greece the only country where more than half held this view.


Political believes influenced people who prioritized cultural traditions. In Italy, supporters of the far-right Northern League were more likely to agree that following national traditions was important for being Italian. Also in Europe political right-wing supporters found this to be important.

Giulia Lombardo

»Back to: NEWS