A new study shows that priorities that once defined most Americans for generations are falling behind.
- Around 38% of poll respondents say patriotism is very important, and 39% say religion is very important, according to a study by The Wall Street Journal and research organization NORC.
- When the study was first conducted in 1998, 70% of respondents deemed patriotism to be very important, and 62% said so of religion.
- Tolerance for others was very important to 80% of American respondents four years ago but has fallen to 58% in the last recording.
- Having children, involvement in their community, and hard work are also answer choices that have significantly decreased in importance to the American public over the last few years.
- The only aspect that has grown in importance is money which is cited as very important by 43% in the new survey, up from 31% in 1998.
Why it’s important
Over the last few decades, America’s beliefs have changed significantly, with the American public pulling back on values and characteristics that once defined it.
A survey conducted with The Wall Street Journal and nonpartisan research organization NORC finds that Americans are changing their beliefs, and the country is sharply divided by political parties over social trends such as the push for racial diversity in businesses and the use of gender-neutral pronouns.
The new poll finds that patriotism, religious faith, and having children are among the priorities Americans do not find as important as they once did. Around 38% of poll respondents say patriotism was very important, compared to 70% of respondents in 1998. Only 39% say religion was highly important when the number was 62% in 1998.
Bill McInturff, who has worked on polls with the Journal, says, “These differences are so dramatic, it paints a new and surprising portrait of a changing America.’’ He adds that “perhaps the toll of our political division, Covid and the lowest economic confidence in decades is having a startling effect on our core values.’’
The survey was first conducted in 1998, and since then, many significant events have occurred that could have changed Americans’ outlook on the country—including the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the financial crisis of 2008, the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.
All age groups deemed the unifying qualities as less necessary in the most recent poll, but the age group that said the characteristics were the least important was the younger generation.
Around 23% of adults under age 30 stated in the poll that patriotism was very important to them, while 59% of seniors ages 65 or older voted it as important. 31% of younger respondents said religion was important compared to 55% of seniors.
NORC’s VP of media research Jennifer Benz says that views in the survey could be down due to the nation’s current economic struggles. “People are just sort of down on everything about the country,” she says.
Since the 2020 pandemic, America has had an economic downturn. The pandemic caused nationwide shortages for many products causing prices of most items to rise significantly. The pandemic also affected the housing market, used car market, inflation, and many other things, causing many consumers not to be optimistic about the country’s economic outlook.
As shown in the survey, many Americans take money very seriously. The only aspect that has grown in importance in the survey is money which was cited as very important by 43%, up from 31% in 1998.
If Americans deem money as important and many factors have been affecting the economy, it could be leading to America’s poor outlook on many of the nation’s priorities.