Monday, September 30, 2013

In honor of the government shutdown

Everyone agrees that there is a lot less trust and willingness to compromise in Washington than there used to be.  What's less clear is whether there has been any parallel movement in the general public.  It's surprisingly hard to find any direct information, but I did uncover one interesting question.  In 1981 and 1990, the World Values Survey asked "Here is a list of things which some people think make for a  successful marriage. Please tell me, for each one, whether you  think it is very important, rather important or not very 
 important for a successful marriage."  One of the things was "agreement on politics."  The question was also included in a Pew survey in 2007.   The averages in the three years (higher numbers mean less important):

1981  2.50
1990  2.45
2007  2.43

Those differences are statistically significant--that is, there's a trend towards rating agreement on politics as more important for a successful marriage (although a majority still say it's not very important).  In the 2007 survey, Republicans rate it as more important (2.34) than Democrats (2.46), with Independents rating it as least important (2.51).  Less educated people rated it as more important.  That surprises me, since more educated people generally have stronger political opinions.  

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