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I overheard Japanese people talking about what school to put their kids in, and they kept talking about what places are 民度低い, then the discussion switched to whether most fat people are 民度低い or not. I did not even know the term applied to people as well, but it seems that it does indeed.

While the meaning slowly becomes obvious to people who hear it all the time, how would you explain it to a kid who has never heard the term?

Objectively, on what criteria do people usually tell whether a place or person is 民度低い ?

I am aware that different people use different criteria, but I am interested in knowing what are the most often-used criteria.

  • Just looking it up on weblio and デジタル大辞泉, it seems like you can equate 民度 with 生活水準の程度, how "well-off" people seem to be, the cultural attainment of a community, etc. I don't think that the criteria would be any different than the equivalent English terms. Things like, how well educated people are, what their economic situation is, what sort of opportunities are available in the community and so on. – sazarando Aug 2 '16 at 7:15
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    @sazarando I think there is a considerable discrepancy between the dictionary definition and how 民度 is actually used in casual conversations. – naruto Aug 2 '16 at 10:13
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As you can see in this 知恵袋 question, there is no strict definition everyone can agree with. I would say 民度(が)低い is a vague derogatory term which can be used for anything that the speaker think is "morally bad/unsophisticated". I haven heard no one say 民度高い to praise someone.

I personally don't like using this term because it's too abstract while sounding clearly dirty. Maybe 民度低い can be regarded as a milder and euphemistic version of "monkey".

Some typical 民度低い behavior include:

  • being so-called a monster parent
  • smoking in public
  • being noisy in trains
  • failing to wait neatly in lines

民度低い[場所] simply refers to a place where there are many such people.

  • Would ヤンキー be referred to as 民度低い? – bjorn May 24 '18 at 8:10
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    @bjorn Usually no. IMHO, people who are obviously delinquent are rarely referred to with this word. – naruto May 24 '18 at 10:29

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