Moral Climate Chilly in U.S. and Britain

by Josephine Mazzuca, PhD
Senior Staff Writer, Toronto Bureau

Recent multicountry polling* indicates that while residents of Great Britain and the United States are similarly likely to be frustrated with the moral and ethical climate in their nations, a majority of Canadians feel satisfied with their country's moral climate. Slightly more than a third of Americans (35%) and Britons (37%) said they were satisfied with the moral and ethical climate there, compared with 59% in Canada. Attitudes on the state of morality in each country are relatively unchanged from early 2003.

Satisfaction With Moral/Ethical Climate and Age

Not surprisingly, those in the youngest age category are the most satisfied with the current moral climate in their nations, and people in the oldest generation are the least satisfied. Approximately half (52%) of Americans aged 18 to 29 are satisfied with the moral and ethical climate in their country, while only 27% of those 65 and older express satisfaction. Similar differences appear among British and Canadian residents.

Men More Satisfied With Moral/Ethical Climate

British and American men are more satisfied with the moral and ethical climate than are women in each of those countries. In Canada, where the satisfaction is higher overall, the gender difference is smaller (61% of men are satisfied, as are 56% of women). In the United States, 41% of men are satisfied with the moral and ethical climate, compared with 30% of women. In Great Britain, the findings are similar: 42% of men are satisfied, compared with 32% of women.

Blair, Martin, and Bush Support

Do respondents' views on the moral climate vary according to their evaluations of their current political leadership? Examining respondents' feelings according to whether they approve of their current chief executive provides some insight. In Great Britain, 50% of respondents who approve of the job Prime Minister Tony Blair is doing are satisfied with the moral and ethical climate, as are only 29% of those who don't approve of Blair. In Canada, 67% of Prime Minister Paul Martin's supporters are satisfied with the moral climate, compared with 50% of Martin detractors. But in the United States, Americans who approve and disapprove of President George W. Bush are about equally likely to be satisfied with the moral and ethical climate.

Thirty-six percent of Americans who approve of the job Bush is doing are satisfied with the country's moral and ethical climate, compared with 33% of those who disapprove of Bush. This pattern also holds true when looking at Americans' views by political party -- Republicans and Democrats are about equally likely to be satisfied with the moral and ethical climate -- 32% and 34%, respectively. Liberal or conservative, Bush supporter or critic, Americans seem to agree on at least one thing -- the moral and ethical climate in their country leaves much to be desired.

*Results in the United States are based on telephone interviews with 1,004 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 12-15, 2004. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. The survey was conducted by Gallup USA.

Results in Canada are based on telephone interviews with 1,003 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 28-May 4, 2004. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. The survey was conducted by Gallup Canada.

Results in Great Britain are based on telephone interviews with 1,018 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 29-May 12, 2004. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. The survey was conducted by Gallup UK.
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