The world remains starkly divided on the net benefits of globalisation. The ‘digital nomads’ associated with the values in this trend see the increasing travel and cultural exchange of a high-tech global economy as positive – yet just as many see a globalised world as a dangerous and unbounded space that threatens the established order. While close to half globally feel more a ‘citizen of the world’ than a citizen of their country (47%), a very similar proportion do not (44%).
This trend highlights three key facets of attitudes towards globalisation. The first two are tied to taste and personality – a strong interest in products and content from abroad or being open to moving abroad or to another part of your home country. The final element speaks more about personal evaluations of the costs and benefits. Unsurprisingly, a feeling of being a ‘winner’ of globalisation is a powerful influence on pro-globalisation attitudes.
One value within this trend speaks to those with a footloose feeling, happy to move region or country for a variety of reasons. Two-thirds of the planet say they would like to experience living in different parts of the world, ranging from 88% of people in Colombia to just one-quarter (26%) of those in Japan. The allure of new cultures is a bigger draw for young people, with three-quarters of Gen Z interested (76%), compared with half of Baby Boomers (50%). Half of people would go further still, saying they would move to a new country for work (51%), with agreement concentrated in emerging economies including Colombia (81%), South Africa (80%) and Peru (76%). However, people in China are among the least willing to move to a new country, with just one-quarter willing to emigrate for work. This is the second-lowest score, ahead only of Japan (20%). Young people are more open to moving abroad – and the gap between them and older people is wider, too: Gen Z are twice as likely to move abroad for work than Baby Boomers (68% versus 33%).
The global public are split on whether ‘global is best’. Half say they prefer foreign-made films and entertainment (51%); with South Africans (71%), Indonesians (69%) and Brazilians (67%) most likely to agree. In the home of Hollywood, Americans are least likely to agree (21%), with Britons and the Japanese also more in favour of local content (32%). Those living in larger cities – potentially exposed to a wider range of cultures – are also more likely to favour global content. Fifty-five per cent of big-city dwellers agree, compared with 44% of rural inhabitants.
However, the inverse is true when considering global brands. While four in ten say global brands make better products than local ones (39%), almost half disagree (47%). Every country where the majority prefer global brands are in emerging markets, led by India and Turkey (65%), while European and other established nations are much more likely to rate local brands. China is the midpoint: half are in favour of global brands. This perhaps signals that a future world-leading economy is beginning to trust its homegrown brands.
The blunt economic logic of globalisation is a major factor in its acceptance: those who feel they – and their country – benefit from a global economy are more likely to be associated with this pro-globalisation value. The majority of the planet agree that globalisation has been good for their country (58%). However, in most countries, a smaller proportion feel they have personally benefited from the global economy (53%). This perception gap differs across the world, with the biggest differences in Japan, Romania, Canada, Germany and Great Britain – where a significantly higher proportion of people feel that globalisation has benefitted the country more than them personally. A difference of 111 million people. In the 2020s, with multilateralism under pressure, the debate over globalisation, the winners and losers, and tension over how much is ‘enough’ will continue.