All About America

American Values Shifting in a Big Way

By Dora Mekouar
September 06, 2019 03:34 PM

The values that Americans view as important have shifted over the last two decades, as younger Americans place less significance on patriotism, religion and having children.

A recent poll shows that 42% of Millennials and Generation Z (ages of 18-38) view patriotism as “very important” compared to almost 79% of people over age 55. 

Hard work is the attribute all Americans value the most with 89% of respondents saying it’s a very important quality. Tolerance for others, financial security and self-fulfillment also topped the list.

Overall, about half of people — 48% — say religion is very important to them, down from 62 percent in 1998. While 67% of older Americans view religion or a belief in God as very important, just 30% of the younger group felt the same.   

Graphic American Values

Click on graphic to enlarge

When it comes to having children, 43% say it’s very important. That’s down from 20 years ago, when 59% of people said that becoming a parent was very important.

Forty percent of people say increasing diversity and tolerance of different cultures and races is a step forward, 14% see it as a step backward, while the biggest majority, 43%, say it is both a step forward and a step backward.  

Issues like religion and patriotism have traditionally been politically important. However, the changing views of the emerging generation suggest those topics might not be at the forefront in the coming years and politicians will have to adjust their platforms and strategies accordingly. 

The NBC News Wall Street Journal survey of 1,000 adults was conducted from August 10 to August 14.

Main photo courtesy of Flickr user Rob Briscoe via Creative Commons license.


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