US Family Survey Reveals National Views on the American Dream, Inflation, Abortion, and Teaching Racial and Gender Identity in Schools

SALT LAKE CITY–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Deseret News today announced the results of the eighth annual survey of American families. The national survey asked 3,000 American adults to share their views on the cultural, family structure and economic issues facing families, including widely debated issues ranging from abortion, education and from inflation to race and gender identity. It also addresses issues surrounding the American Dream, highlighting a pessimistic moment in our nation’s history.

“The latest data from our annual survey of American families continues to show a sharp divide on many issues facing Americans today,” said Hal Boyd, editor of Deseret News National. “But despite strong differences of opinion on some of the issues, there are positive signs in this survey on topics that many of us agree on, regardless of our political ideology. For example, two-thirds of Americans surveyed agree on the importance of teaching racial equality in our schools. These majorities show hope that we are still close on many issues concerning this country.

The national survey was conducted by YouGov in August and commissioned for the Deseret News and the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University.

Additional survey results by category include:

THE AMERICAN DREAM, THE ECONOMY AND INFLATION

  • Only 40% of Americans say they are better off than their parents were at a similar age. This is a dramatic drop from the 1980s and 1990s, when 70-80% of Americans thought they were better off than their parents. Americans are even more pessimistic about the likely prospects for children. Only a third think today’s children will be better off financially than their parents, down from a range of 43% to 71% in the 1980s and 1990s.

  • Americans are more concerned about inflation than other economic concerns. Eighty-nine percent of Americans are at least somewhat worried about inflation, and 56% are very worried.

  • Americans blame two major causes for inflation: Most Republicans blame the policies of the Biden administration, while most Democrats blame supply chain disruptions caused by the recent pandemic. Notably, the institution officially charged with managing inflation, the Federal Reserve, fares slightly in this data.

  • The vast majority of Americans have seen higher prices when it comes to buying things like food (86%) and transportation (82%).

RACE, SEX, GENDER AND EDUCATION

  • Gender Identity: There is weak support for welcoming transgender students into public schools. A majority of Americans say transgender athletes should be restricted to competing only according to the sex they were assigned at birth; half of Americans actively disagree with allowing public school students to use the bathroom of their choice; and only 40% say teachers should use students’ preferred pronouns. About a quarter of Americans don’t want to take sides on these issues, and the divide between Democrats and Republicans is deep.

  • Racial equality: Overall, Americans express significantly more support for teaching racial equality in public schools (two-thirds support) than for teaching sex or gender equality ( less than half the support). When it comes to what to teach about race, 82% say public schools should teach the importance of treating all Americans the same, regardless of race, while 42% say they should teach the importance of providing additional support to members of groups who have experienced racial discrimination in the past. And 64% say schools should teach about the history of racism in the United States. Here again, the gaps between Republicans and Democrats are significant.

  • Book banning: Despite media attention to book banning efforts, only 16% of Americans think their public school libraries include inappropriate books on their shelves, and only 12% agree that books should be withdrawn if either parent objects. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of survey respondents say public school libraries should include books that represent a variety of viewpoints, even if these books make some readers uncomfortable.

POLITICS

  • Among the current policy issues before Congress this year, the one policy that a majority of Americans believe should be “very” important is imposing more background checks on gun purchases. Among Democrats, a majority of those who call themselves liberals see several policy areas as ‘very important’ – not just guns, but also abortion, investigating the events of January 6, 2021, providing assistance to families and student debt relief.

  • When asked how far into pregnancy a woman should be legally allowed to have an abortion, a majority of Americans chose a time during the first trimester. A quarter of Americans say states that restrict access to abortion should be able to ban residents from buying abortion pills out of state. A strong majority say that the use of contraception is a personal choice and that the government should not restrict access.

  • Opinions are changing on immigration policy and deportations in particular. In 2017, a plurality of 46% of Americans supported deporting unauthorized immigrants even if it resulted in separation from family members. By 2022, that had changed. Although the difference is not large, now 40% of Americans oppose this policy, while 37% favor it (the undecided are stable). More Americans also support than oppose granting citizenship to children born in the United States to unauthorized immigrants.

Later today, the Brookings Center on Children and Families, Deseret News and Brigham Young University will host a webinar to dive into the results of this year’s survey. Register at www.brookings.edu/events. For more information on the American Family Survey, visit www.deseret.com/AFS.

About Deseret News

The Deseret News was founded in 1850 and is Utah’s oldest news organization and the oldest continuously operating business in the state. In addition to its award-winning website and mobile app, the Deseret News publishes a bi-weekly edition and Deseret Magazine. The Deseret News is committed to being a standard bearer for journalistic integrity and principled reporting.

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