SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- A national
poll released today found that Americans have several
misperceptions about social trends affecting families, including
whether the divorce rate, teen sex and births outside of marriage
have increased. The fifth annual American Family Survey looked at
Americans' perceptions on these and other trends in an effort to
gain insights into the lives of American families and how they
respond to cultural, political and social issues.
This year's survey asked whether seven trends involving family
patterns have increased, decreased, or stayed the same over the
past 10 years. The survey found that majorities have misperceptions
about four of the trends. For example:
- 88% said the divorce rate increased or stayed the same when in
fact it decreased.
- 81% said the percentage of high schoolers who have had sex
increased or stayed the same, when in reality that percentage
- Majorities of Americans also wrongly believed that births
outside of marriage and teen pregnancies had also increased.
"Our study shows that some longstanding and negative beliefs
about certain family issues continue to persist regardless of their
factuality," said Deseret News Opinion Editor Boyd Matheson. "The good news is that some of
these trends are changing for the better and that marriage and
family are still held in high regard. Still, it's interesting to
see that many continue to hold perceptions about some
family-related trends that, while still taking place, have been in
decline for some time. These misunderstandings illustrate the
extent to which family issues have become politicized in ways that
fuel the country's cultural and political war."
The survey found no clear demographic patterns in terms of who
answered correctly. However, on each of the four trends most
Americans got wrong, Republicans were significantly more likely to
guess wrong than Democrats. For example, 72% of Republicans said
the teen pregnancy rate was increasing (it's not), while 51% of
Democrats said the same.
Americans have a more accurate perception of fertility rates,
marriage rates and single-parent homes, demonstrating some
knowledge that these are either flat or decreasing. But in each of
these cases, the more "pessimistic" answer happens to be correct,
highlighting the tendency of most Americans to hold a negative and,
in some cases exaggerated, view of how bad family life is in
the United States.
The survey also looked at family leave and found that Americans
generally favor a national paid family leave policy, with a
majority favoring coverage of maternity leave and a minority
favoring coverage of time off to care for a sick parent, child or
spouse. But they don't favor new government programs or changes to
Social Security in order to fund it. The survey asked about four
proposed bills currently in Congress (without revealing which bills
are sponsored by Republicans or Democrats) and found that no single
proposal has the support of a majority of Americans.
Additionally, the survey examined how concerns in the American
family have changed over the last five years, when the survey was
first issued, and found that Americans increasingly point to the
economy – including the cost of raising a family – as the biggest
issue. In contrast, they are less likely to select cultural issues
– such as sexual permissiveness or change in the definition of
marriage and family – as a big concern.
The American Family Survey is an annual, nationwide study of
3,000 Americans by the Deseret News and the Center for the Study of
Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young
University and conducted by YouGov. Now in its fifth year,
the survey seeks to understand the experiences of Americans in
their relationships, marriages and families, and how those
experiences relate to a variety of public policy issues.
These results, along will the full report and survey
methodology, are available at:
The survey's findings will be discussed during a moderated panel
event at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 13:
View original content to download
SOURCE Deseret News