the shape of leadership

Most Americans Say Morals Are Declining

Gallup poll reveals negative perceptions of today’s values

Influence Magazine on May 23, 2017

Most Americans agree that the nation’s moral compass could use some fine tuning, with more than 4 in 5 adults (81 percent) rating the current state of moral values as only fair or poor, according to a new Gallup poll.

This represents the most negative assessment of morality in seven years. Nearly half of Americans (45 percent) say morality is poor, the highest number since the data tracking began 16 years ago. Only 17 percent rate the state of moral values as good or excellent, the lowest number since 2008.

A majority each year has maintained that decency is eroding.

And more than three-quarters of Americans say things are getting worse, with 77 percent agreeing that the state of moral values is on the decline. Gallup started asking in 2002 whether the state of morality is improving or worsening, and a majority each year has maintained that decency is eroding.

Perceptions vary widely between age groups, with older Americans more likely to express dissatisfaction with the moral climate. In the latest poll, 51 percent of respondents 65 years of age and older gave morality a poor rating, compared to 33 percent of adults under age 35.

Geographic location also makes a difference. More than half (54 percent) of people living in rural areas say the state of moral values is poor vs. 33 percent of inhabitants of major cities.

Gallup conducted the telephone survey May 3–7, 2017.

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