Sunday, December 23, 2007

Respecting parents

Previously in response to MR's post Why don't American kids respect their parents more, I had wondered if we could actually measure respect. Some data from the World Values Survey was posted by Tyler in a subsequent post:

Here was my earlier post on the topic, now Ban Chuan Cheah is kind enough to send me questionnaire data from the World Values Survey.
The question is:
With which of these two statements do you tend to agree? (CODE ONE ANSWER ONLY)

A. Regardless of what the qualities and faults of one's parents are, one must always love and respect them.
B. One does not have the duty to respect and love parents who have not earned it by their behaviour and attitudes.
1. Always
2. Earned
3. Neither
Some rates of answering "Always" are:
Netherlands: 31.9 percent, Denmark: 35.9, Germany: 59.2, Belarus: 70.9, Japan: 71.6, France: 74.7, United States: 77.2, Canada: 77.6, India: 88.8, China: 94.5, Puerto Rico: 97.5, Vietnam: 99.3.
Based on these and other numbers, I tentatively conclude that wealth breeds parental disrespect, being Asian brings greater respect for parents, and having a strong welfare state is correlated with disrespect for parents. Being a former East Bloc totalitarian state doesn't have nearly the oomph I would have expected; many East European countries fall into the 70-80 percent range.

I would not have gone so far as to conclude that the question asked (with the categories A or B) were identical to the original question, i.e. that saying that parents have to earn respect is not the same as being disrespectful. There is also the issue of acting respectful and feeling respectful which may not always be the same thing.

Incidentally, Denmark is also one of the happiest nations. Here's the BBC report.

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