The majority of Americans are becoming more open to issues that have historically been deemed morally questionable, such as divorce, according to a new Gallup Poll. Among the moral issues that Americans are becoming more tolerant toward, divorce was found morally acceptable by 69% of U.S. citizens, placing it as the second most accepted item in the May 2014 survey. The use of birth control polled as the most highly accepted moral issue, with an acceptability rating of 90% among Americans.
The survey asked Americans to weigh-in on the moral acceptability of 19 separate issues, ranging from embryonic stem cell research to having children outside of marriage. The results were categorized into five groups, ranking from highly acceptable to highly unacceptable. Although birth control was the only issue that ranked in the “highly acceptable” category, divorce was among the nine issues that Americans find “largely acceptable” – meaning that, although the majority of Americans find divorce morally acceptable, a significant minority remains opposed to it.
Young adults are generally more accepting of moral issues, but older Americans are demonstrating a growing tolerance for matters such as divorce, premarital sex, gay marriage, and birth control. In fact, the shifting opinions of the older generation are largely responsible for the national increase in the acceptance of divorce.
According to an article in Gallup Politics, “The overall change in Americans’ opinions on divorce is also largely a result of shifting views of those who are 55 and older. These Americans are now 21 points more likely to find divorce acceptable than they were in 2001. Meanwhile, attitudes toward divorce among those younger than age 55 have remained relatively flat.” (From “Older Americans’ Moral Attitudes Changing” by Joy Wilke and Lydia Saad.)
Gallup has been polling Americans on the acceptability of 12 of the moral issues featured in the survey each year since 2001, and began tracking the additional seven issues after 2002. In May 2014, Americans stated equal or greater levels of moral acceptance for 12 of the 19 issues than had been expressed in the past, suggesting a continuing increase in overall tolerance.
Read more about this survey from Gallup Politics.