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Poll: Americans place low importance on religion and kids

Old man sitting alone in church

Paul Vasarhelyi | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 04/13/23

The poll, which had been previously conducted in 1998 and 2019, saw distinct downward trends in sentiments toward several key areas of society, except one.

A new poll is measuring the change in American values over the last 25 years. Conducted by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) and funded by the Wall Street Journal, the same survey had previously been taken in both 1998 and 2019. The findings, based on the survey of some 1,019 Americans, show a distinct decline in the importance Americans place on religion and having children.

Among the key findings of the study, NORC reported that only 30% of respondents suggested that having children was important to them. This figure is down from the 43% of respondents who placed importance on having kids in 2019, and follows a trend seen in the last 25 years. In 1998, when the first survey was taken, as many as 59% said they place a high importance on having children.

On the topic of marriage, only 43% said they felt it was an important pursuit, but this question had not been asked in previous surveys and could not be compared to past results.

Patriotic feelings toward America have dwindled, with only 38% stating that they believe it is important to feel patriotic towards one’s own nation. This figure was as high as 70%, in 1998.

Overall, the only figure that grew was seen in the importance Americans place on money, which rose to 43% from 31%, in 1998.

When asked about the frequency of religious practice, only 19% of respondents cited attending religious worship at least once per week. Seniors were by far the most likely demographic to attend weekly religious services, with 55% calling religion “very important,” whereas the younger generation only polled in favor of religion at a rate of 31%.

When asked about the importance of community, respondents followed the same downward trend as seen in questions of childbearing. In 2019 as many as 62% placed a high importance on “community involvement,” but this figure fell to just 27%, in 2023. Meanwhile, 78% said they do not feel confident that their children’s generation will be better off than their own.

See all the results of the poll at the Wallstreet Journal.

ChildrenChurchMarriageUnited States
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