Something to Cheer About


This is the 37th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

If you sometimes think the front page and the evening TV news bring nothing but doom and gloom, here’s something to make you feel good about America:
In a worldwide survey, it was found that 84% of Americans take great pride in their work, vs. 36% of Europeans and 37% of Japanese.
71% of Americans would be willing to fight for their country, vs. 43% of Europeans and 22% of Japanese. 
Americans also lead in national pride (80%).
These are sparkling figures.
They ought to be on the front page.

The above findings are based on a survey from 1982 sponsored by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) of the Roman Catholic Church and conducted by the Gallup Poll.

My natural instinct was to do a little bit of research and see if I could find some updated responses to these questions. It does not appear as CARA has a recent version of the same survey, so I looked to other sources. completed a “Value of Work” survey in 2013 in the U.S. that found that only 64% of those who took the survey said they are “extremely proud” of the work they do (down from 84%). The survey has many other results that you can find at the link above.

I was not able to find any comparable international data on the question of pride of work.

However, I was able to find comparable data on the other two survey questions noted in the ad above, based on a survey by the World Values Survey, a global network of social scientists.

In response to the question of whether you would be willing to fight for your country, here are the results for a few different countries:

  • China: 74.2%
  • Germany: 40.9%
  • India: 68.6%
  • Iraq: 64.1%
  • Japan: 15.2%
  • Netherlands: 42.4%
  • Poland: 71.4%
  • Russia: 52.7%
  • Spain: 28.1%
  • Sweden: 69.4%
  • United States: 57.7%

Compared to all countries, the U.S. ranked 39th out of 55 countries on the willingness of its citizens to fight for the country. The top three countries on this question were Qatar, Pakistan, and the Phillipines.


In response to the question of how proud you are of your nationality, here are the percentage of respondents who replied “very proud”:

  • China: 22.2%
  • Germany: 23.7%
  • India: 69.8%
  • Iraq: 49.8%
  • Japan: 25.1%
  • Netherlands: 20.7%
  • Poland: 59.7%
  • Russia: 28.6%
  • Spain: 55.2%
  • Sweden: 39.7%
  • United States: 56.1%

While it is hard to directly compare the U.S result of 56.1% with the 80% from 1982 since I do not know what the 80% measures (for example, the 2014 survey includes options to respond “Very Proud” and “Quite Proud”; if I were to include both of these categories, then the U.S. would be at 86.7%).

Compared to all countries, the U.S. ranked 30th out of 55 countries on national pride. The top three countries on this question wereQatar, Ghana, and Ecuador.


In trying to draw some conclusions, here is what I see:

Americans do not take as much pride in their work today as they did 30 years ago. It appears that one of the reasons for such a decline may be that people do not feel as fulfilled from their work as they used to feel, potentially leading to less pride in their work.

In terms of willingness to fight for your country, it appears that a significantly fewer number of Americans are willing to fight for their country, dropping from 71% in 1982 to 58% in 2014. Part of this may be that Americans were growing weary of the number of armed conflicts it was involved in, with little to show for such efforts.

Finally, in terms of national pride, the U.S. has dropped from having 80% of its citizens “very proud” to be American in 1982 to 56% in 2014. This may be the result of the phenomenon documented in Thomas Friedman’s great book, “The World Is Flat”, in which he talks about how globalization was first driven at the country level, then at the company level, and now at the individual level. In other words, perhaps borders don’t seem to matter as much, and as a result, people may not feel as strong a sense of attachment to their country in a globalized world.

I’m not sure if Harry Gray would call these newer number “sparkling”, but they sure are newsworthy…

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