Pew Research: Race and immigration

As always, interesting data from Pew and the apparent disconnect between public attitudes and politics:

Majorities in all generations say the country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites, reflecting a public shift in these views in recent years. But Millennials are far more likely to hold this view than Boomers and Silents. The current generational gap in opinion is a relatively new one – as recently as 2015 there was not a substantial difference in these views by generation.

The divide is driven mostly by an uptick in the share of Millennials who say the U.S. needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites.

In 2015, similar shares of Millennials (61%), Gen Xers (59%), Boomers (60%), and Silents (57%) said that more changes were necessary in order for blacks to achieve equal rights with whites. In 2017, 68% of Millennials say that more changes are needed, a significantly larger proportion than any other generational group.

There is a similar pattern on views of racial discrimination. In 2012, similar shares of adults in each generation (about two-in-ten) said that discrimination was “the main reason why many black people can’t get ahead these days” rather than that “blacks who can’t get ahead in this country are mostly responsible for their own condition.”

Since 2012, the share of Millennials who cite discrimination as the main reason blacks can’t get ahead these days has more than doubled (24% in 2012 to 52% in 2017), and a 24-point gap now separates the oldest and youngest generations.

The size of the generational divide on views about race is not simply attributable to the larger share of nonwhites in younger generations. White Millennials are 11-percentage points more likely than white Silents to say the country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites, similar to the 14- point generational gap in these views among all adults.

Generational gaps in views of immigrants, immigration policies

The share of adults in all generations saying immigrants strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents, rather than burden the country by taking jobs and health care, has grown in recent years as overall public sentiment has shifted

But there has long been a generational divide in these views. Millennials, in particular, stand out for their positive views of immigrants: 79% say they strengthen rather than burden the country. And while about two-thirds (66%) of Gen Xers now say this, that compares with a narrower majority of Boomers (56%) and about half (47%) of Silents.

These wide divides are seen not just among the generations overall, but also among whites across generations. Fully 76% of white Millennials say immigrants do more to strengthen than burden the country, compared with 61% of white Gen Xers, 54% of white Boomers and 45% of white Silents.

These generational divides are also evident on public views of issues at the heart of the current immigration policy debate: opinions about plans to substantially expand the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and views about granting permanent legal status to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children.

While Boomers and Silents are roughly divided in their views about expanding the U.S.-Mexico border wall, younger generations – especially Millennials – are substantially more likely to oppose expanding the wall than favor doing so. Fully 72% of Millennials – including 70% of white Millennials – oppose expanding the wall. Among Gen Xers, 60% oppose expanding the wall, while 38% support it (white Gen Xers are divided: 49% favor, 50% oppose).

While substantial majorities – two-thirds or more – across all generations favor granting permanent legal status to immigrants who came illegally to the U.S., this sentiment is more widely held among Millennials: 82% of them favor granting permanent legal status, while just 13% are opposed.

Source: 4. Race, immigration, same-sex marriage, abortion, global warming, gun policy, marijuana legalization

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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