The world's most ignorant countries revealed

New Zealand was the most inaccurate developed country, which ranked in 5th place

Emma Henderson@Emmalouisehendy
Saturday 05 December 2015 14:35
Mexico was found to be the 'least accurate' country in the Perils of Perception survey
Mexico was found to be the 'least accurate' country in the Perils of Perception survey

The world's most ignorant countries have been revealed in a new survey, which shows just how wrong we all are about what's going on around us.

The Perils of Perception survey showed that many people didn’t know the basic facts about issues such as inequality, immigration and obesity and it looked at the demographics of each of the 33 countries invovled and questioned people about them.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI published its latest results this week.

The most ignorant country was Mexico, followed by India and Brazil taking second and third place respectively.

The table did show some regional patterns, for example Latin American countries tended to be more inaccurate while European countries tended to be more accurate.

However, New Zealand was the most inaccurate developed country, which ranked in 5th place.


Peru came in fourth, while Colombia, Belgium, South Africa, Argentina and Italy took positions six to 10 on the table.

The results showed that those surveyed think that a quarter of people in their countries were immigrants, when in reality, the figure was fewer than one in 10.

Argentinians were the furthest from the truth, thinking 30 per cent of their population were immigrants, but it was only actually 5 per cent.

Globally, people thought that the richest 1 per cent own nearly half of the wealth in their country. But the real figure is closer to a third. Brits overestimated the proportion of wealth more than any other country, thinking 56 per cent own the most wealth, but the real figure is only 23 per cent.

When it came to age, as most nations are living for longer, the general consensus for the average age was 50 years old. But Brazilians got this very wrong. The average age in Brazil is 31, but they thought it was over 20 years higher at 56.

Obesity was also another issue that people vastly underestimated. On average, those surveyed thought that only 40 per cent of people were overweight, but the actual figure is more than half at 54 per cent.

Britain in particular was slightly deluded about the severity of our obesity problem, despite it being a major topical issue. When asked how many people over 20 were classed as obese, those surveyed thought it was 44 per cent, but it’s actually a very worrying 62 per cent.

While Saudis thought that just over a quarter of their country was overweight, but the actual figure is 70 per cent of people are.

Bobby Duffy, Managing director of Ipsos MORI Social Institute, said: “Each population gets a lot wrong. We are often most incorrect on factors that are widely discussed in the media or highlighted as challenges facing societies, such as the proportion of young adults still living at home, immigration and wealth inequality.

“We know from previous studies that this is partly because we over-estimate what we worry about – as well as worrying about the issues we think are widespread."

The world's 10 most ignorant countries

(according to the Perils of Perception)

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Peru

5. New Zealand

6. Colombia

7. Belgium

8. South Africa

9. Argentina

10. Italy

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