"As the philosopher Peter Singer has put it, the communications revolution has spawned a “global audience” that creates the basis for a “global ethics.” If we identify ourselves with the nation, our morality remains national. But, if we increasingly associate ourselves with the world at large, our loyalties will expand, too. Similarly, the Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen speaks of our “multiple identities” – ethnic, religious, national, local, professional, and political – many of which cross national boundaries.
It is unclear how much of this is wishful thinking and how much is based on real shifts in identities and attachments. Survey evidence shows that attachment to the nation-state remains quite strong.
A few years ago, the World Values Survey questioned respondents in scores of countries about their attachments to their local communities, their nations, and to the world at large. Not surprisingly, those who viewed themselves as national citizens greatly outnumbered those who regarded themselves as world citizens. But, strikingly, national identity overshadowed even local identity in the United States, Europe, India, China, and most other regions.
The same surveys indicate that younger people, the highly educated, and those who identify themselves as upper class, are more likely to associate themselves with the world. Nevertheless, it is difficult to identify any demographic segment in which attachment to the global community outweighs attachment to the country."
Dani Rodrik is a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a leading scholar of globalization and economic development.