Where Does the U.S. Rank Among the World's Most Racist Countries?


recent study by two Swedish economists has shed light on the world's most and least racially tolerant countries, and the results might surprise you. While the United States is ranked among the most tolerant on the globe (some may find this predictable, others may not), Europe presents a greater range of tolerance levels, with several countries in the second and third least tolerant ranges.

The study was aimed at discerning a correlation between a country's level of economic freedom and its racial tolerance. The latter was defined by one simple question, as asked in the World Values Survey: Whom would you not want as a neighbor? Those who selected "people of other races" were categorized as intolerant for the purposes of this investigation. Countries were then ranked by percentage of responses: the fewer "intolerant" respondents, the more tolerant the country. While the Swedish researches found no conclusive results regarding any strong correlation between economic development and tolerance, a recent Washington Post article article went back to the original survey source and compiled a greater sample of data for the purposes of determining other potential relationships between a country and its perceived level of tolerance.

According to this infographic, the U.S. falls into the most tolerant category, with only 0-4.9% of those surveyed responding that they would not want to live near people of other races. Our neighbor to the north responded in kind, while Mexico ranked in the second-tier of tolerance, making the totality of North America look like a big amalgamation of racial harmony. While this may or may not actually be the case (people lie on surveys, the Washington Post authors note) it certainly provides a compelling lens for analyzing the less concordant results of Europe.

Albania appears to be the least tolerant on the European continent in the second lowest 30-39.9% range. While potential explanations for such a severe distinction from its neighboring states abound, arriving at a concrete conclusion for intolerance is likely a futile pursuit. Croatia, for example, ranks in the 5-9.9%t category (the same as Mexico), achieving the most tolerant in the Balkan region. Both ethnic Croats and Albanians were involved in the conflicts that embroiled the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, and such ethnic strife undoubtedly contributes to a heightened sensitivity to ethnic and racial relations. However, given its distinctly intolerant stance, Albania, for reasons not easily explained by its history of conflict, seems to have lagged behind in recovering from regional tensions. While Albania's ranking may be difficult to explain, it is not the sole European state at the intolerant end of the spectrum. France ranked just above, in the 20-29.9% range. In contrast, adjacent Germany and Spain, fell into the same tier as Mexico and Croatia.

Rounding out the bottom of the list are India, Jordan, Bangladesh, and Hong Kong in the 40%+ range. A potential explanation for this, is that the less heterogeneous the society, the less tolerant. While this logic might follow for Albania, what is France's excuse? On the flipside, one might argue that changes in patterns to immigration or perceived and unwanted changes to a social fabric might play a role. Remember when France decided to ban religious garments in public? That was probably a good indication of where France was at on the tolerance spectrum, no survey needed.

Ultimately, the survey presents an intriguing model for analyzing tolerance between countries. But with the above in mind, it is only a small piece of the larger picture. Wherever states are suppressing civil liberties in broad and unapologetic ways, intolerance is likely lurking not too far below.