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What do French people know - or think they know - about eradicated diseases in the world?

Published 7 August 2019 in Surveys

Questioned about the eradication worldwide of five diseases (small pox, malaria, measles, polio and Aids) a large number of French people responded with "I don’t know". This was the most frequent answer, regardless of socio-economic background.

Those who did reply gave a fairly accurate answer. Small pox was most often given as an eradicated disease, followed by polio (which in reality is not far from eradication) and then measles.

But it is striking to see that between 4% and 12% of French people think that Aids has been eliminated, and in parallel, that between 4% and 9% think that malaria no longer exists.

More women than men knew that small pox had been eliminated. Respondents aged over 50 were generally better informed than younger age categories.

While right-wing voters were less well-informed than left-wing voters, it was center-voters whose answers were the most accurate.

It would appear however that the level of education is the biggest factor in a correct response: 46% of those without qualifications were unable to reply, compared to 26% with Masters-level qualifications. Whether or not a coincidence, these figures mirror results grouped according to annual income levels.

French people who claim to be concerned by poverty and development issues were more likely to give a correct answer to this question.

This data comes from our survey conducted by the YouGov Institute and piloted by the research team at University College London and the University of Birmingham as part of the project Aid Attitudes Tracker which measures the evolution of opinions and behaviors on issues of international solidarity in four countries.