AUSTRALIANS believe the nation has more unemployed, more teen pregnancies, more Muslims and fewer Christians than is actually the case.
New research released by Ipsos on Wednesday has highlighted the difference between Australians' perceptions of the nation and the reality.
It found Australians believed one in six of all teen girls (aged 15-19) gave birth each year, when the figure was closer to 2%.
It also found Australians underestimated the number of Christians in the country, at 45%, compared to the actual figure of 61%.
And the report showed Australians "hugely overestimate" the proportion of Muslim Australians, with the perception that almost one in five Australians were Muslims, when the actual figure was only 2%.
The report, which created an "index of ignorance", measured 14 countries' perceptions against the realities, and Australia was in the lower middle order, at 9th of 14.
It rated above Italy and the United States, which were the most ignorant countries, but below Sweden, which had the closest knowledge of their country to the reality.
Ipsos Social research institute director David Elliott said the findings presented "clear issues for information public debate and policy-making".
"For example, public priorities may well be different if we had a clearer view of the scale of unemployment and the real proportion of those aged 65 years and over," he said.
He said Australia was "far from alone in being wrong", but there were still huge gaps between "perceptions and reality" on several key issues.
- APN NEWSDESK
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