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International Development Barometer n°2

Published 28 August 2019 in Surveys

French knowledge, values and opinions on international development and solidarity

This second edition of the International Development Barometer provides an extensive overview and insight into French knowledge, values and opinions on international development and solidarity.

It is the result of research which aimed to determine what French people feel, do, know, or expect from their governments in terms of international development and solidarity policy.

The principle finding is a division between those who are open to global societies and culture, and those who see their politics and preferences at a purely domestic level.

The International Development Barometer is built from the Aid Attitudes Tracker project, an online survey carried out twice a year in France, Germany, the UK and the US by YouGov, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since 2013. The research is lead by Jennifer van Heerde-Hudson (UCL) and David Hudson (University of Birmingham)

Poor knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals

French people do not know much about development issues or specifically the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Only 20% said they "knew a lot" about the SDGs, with 39% saying they knew "a bit", whereas 40% said they had only heard of the name or that they didn’t know anything at all about them.

This knowledge - or ignorance - has an evident correlation with concern about development issues. 73% of those who say they are "very concerned" by development issues also knew "a lot about" or "a bit about" the SDGs. Those who regularly read newspapers knew three times as much about the SDGs than those who didn’t.

Who cares about global poverty: concern influenced by views on European Union membership

44% of French people say they are concerned about global poverty compared to 17% who are not. Of these two categories, 58% of those in support of European Union (EU) membership were also concerned about global poverty, compared to 30% of those who disapproved of EU membership for France.

59% of left-wing voters say they are concerned about global poverty, compared to 31% of right-wing voters. Voters for (center-party) Emmanuel Macron are logically in between the two.

A duty of "individual generosity towards others"?

42% of respondents say they don’t think they should have to personally give money to help reduce global poverty. 20% think they should. The older the respondent, the less likely they were to agree with this idea of a kind of duty of individual generosity. There was however a positive correlation with the level of income.

28% of left-wing voters disagreed with the idea of an "individual duty of generosity", but this is almost half of the number of right-wing voters (56%) taking the same position.

...And how views on Europe influence the idea of a "duty" of individual generosity

The number of those agreeing with the idea of a "duty" of solidarity is five times higher (39%) amongst those who are involved or very involved in international solidarity questions, compared to those who are not at all involved (7%).

Similarly, 68% of those in favour of France’s membership of the EU thought that everyone should have equal opportunities in life, compared with only 46% for those whose political preference was for nationalist parties.

Equal opportunities for all?

80% of French people think that everyone should have the same chances in life, and treated equally. Similar levels of support for this principle of equality can be seen in Germany, the UK and the US.

During the 2017 French Presidential elections, those who voted for (mainstream left party candidate) Benoit Hamon had the highest support for the principle of equal opportunities (84%) followed by (far-left candidate) supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon (75%). Center-party voters were at 65% of support for equality, closer to the levels seen for left-wing voters than for (mainstream right-wing candidate) François Fillon (35%) or for (far-right candidate) Marine Le Pen (44%).

National poverty vs. international poverty

French people are divided about whether there should be any difference in policy for poor people in France and poor people elsewhere.

Political preference is a clear factor in views on this question. Answers are correlated to votes in the 2017 election, with right and far-right candidates’ voters giving preference to "the poor in France" over anywhere else.

Documents to download

Baromètre de la Solidarité Internationale n°2 International Development Barometer: Newsletter 2