As many of us gather this weekend with family and friends for the July 4 holiday, it’s worthwhile reflecting on American pride. Although Americans are divided in many ways, our shared positive national identity will help the United States remain a land of opportunity and a global leader of human progress. A recent report from the Archbridge Institute finds that Americans who are proud of their national identity are dramatically more optimistic about the future of their nation and about making progress on national and global challenges such as racism, poverty, political polarization, and climate change. Other evidence shows that patriotism increases social trust, voluntary association, and personal well-being.
Unfortunately, over the last couple of decades, American national pride has been in decline. Gallup reports that around 90 percent of Americans were very or extremely proud to be American 20 years ago, but that number is around 70 percent today. While the reasons for this decline are many, our new survey suggests that higher education is contributing to the problem.
We recently conducted a national survey of 2,000 students representing 130 colleges and universities across the United States. We found that only 56 percent of American college students are very or somewhat proud to be American. This is very low in comparison to other recent surveys of all U.S. adults that show most Americans across political, gender, racial, and income categories are proud to be American.