What We Found
Americans are far from alone in the world, but from the perspective of many young Americans, we might as well be. Most young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 demonstrate a limited understanding of the world, and they place insufficient importance on the basic geographic skills that might enhance their knowledge.
Young Americans answer about half (54 percent) of all the survey questions correctly. But by and large, majorities of young adults fail at a range of questions testing their basic geographic literacy.
These results suggest that young people in the United Statesthe most recent graduates of our educational systemare unprepared for an increasingly global future. Far too many lack even the most basic skills for navigating the international economy or understanding the relationships among people and places that provide critical context for world events.
WHAT WE'RE DOING ABOUT IT
National Geographic and leading education, business, and nonprofit partners have launched My Wonderful World, a campaign to increase global learning in school, at home, and in the community. With the help of parents, teachersand youwe can help give our youth the power of global knowledge. Because kids who understand our world today can succeed in it tomorrow.
About the Survey
The findings presented are the results of a face-to-face survey conducted from December 17, 2005, to January 20, 2006, by Roper Public Affairs and Media, a part of GfK NOP. Interviews were conducted among a nationwide representative sample of 510 adults age 18-24 in the continental United States. Data were weighted for sample balancing by sex and age. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 4.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The margin of error for subgroups is higher. Because of rounding, numbers may not total 100 percent.
This study is the latest in a series of surveys commissioned by the National Geographic Society. The most recent prior survey was conducted among nine nations in 2002. (See results of 2002 survey.)