June 29, 2012
Data point: Americans see values declining, with materialism a core concern
“America’s values are in upheaval,” according to a new survey commissioned by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute that attempts to define what Americans believe. Almost 7 in 10 of the 2,006 American adults surveyed said they feel American values have deteriorated since 1970. As this chart shows, Americans chiefly blame political corruption and money in politics for weakening values as compared to other countries. But almost as many see materialism and an overemphasis on money as a core problem, along with declining family values.
The survey attempts to chart just what family values means today. While almost two-thirds, for instance, feel the decline in traditional families has had a negative impact on American society, more than half say having a child out of wedlock—once so scandalous—is morally acceptable. In the coming decades, Millennials will drive a continuing shift in mindset: When it comes to homosexuality, for example, 62 percent of 18-29-year-olds consider it morally acceptable vs. 57 percent of 30-44-year-olds, 53 percent of Boomers and just 36 percent of the oldest generation. Millennials are also more accepting when it comes to social issues like smoking marijuana and abortion.