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Surveying 2018 America


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The 2018 GSS once again demonstrates our ability to separate measurable opinion from commonly believed arguments in political debate, identify changes in what Americans have prioritized over four and a half decades, and even help us to document some suspected sources of joy in life.

Rene Bautista, Director
General Social Survey

The General Social Survey (GSS), one of the most influential studies in the social sciences, has gathered data on contemporary American society to monitor and explain Americans’ attitudes, behaviors, and traits since 1972. Like past surveys, the 2018 GSS produced results that are at once surprising, predictable, and quirky. Released to the public in the spring of 2019, scholars, policymakers, instructors, and students continue to analyze results from the 2018 survey, an undertaking made easier by the GSS Data Explorer, a web-based tool that explores results for the over 6,000 questions that have been asked on the GSS since its inception. One of its features allows the public to quickly analyze some of the key trends in attitudes observed by the GSS.

GSS data have inspired a wealth of media coverage. Some of the most attention-getting trends from the 2018 data include:

  • Fewer young people have partners. Fifty-one percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 said they do not have a steady romantic partner, a figure much higher than the 33 percent surveyed in 2004.

  • Dog owners are happier. Dog owners are about twice as likely as cat owners to say they’re very happy.

  • Pro-immigration sentiment is growing. A growing number of Americans say they believe that immigration levels should remain the same or increase, despite the recent increase in federal immigration enforcement, and fewer Republicans want a reduction in immigration than did in 2016 (63 percent to 53 percent).

  • There’s more support for mitigating racial disparities. A record percentage of Americans—including more whites, Blacks, independents, Democrats, and Republicans—say they believe the U.S. government doesn’t spend enough on improving conditions for Blacks.