The global #pandemic has had a widespread impact on Americans’ financial, social and physical well-being. Our recent survey for @NerdWallet found two-thirds of Americans say the pandemic will impact the way they plan to give gifts this year. Learn more https://theharrispoll.com/2020-holiday-shopping-report/?lid=shopping
2021: Start the new year smarter! Learn how The Harris Poll can get you the insight you need in as little as 48 hours. Get started today. https://theharrispoll.com/on-demand/?lid=eoy
Our CEO Will Johnson dives into our most recent data in @SInow finding that a rise in fantasy sports may be leading to an increase in sports betting: 69% of sports bettors became interested in it after participating in a fantasy sports league. https://www.si.com/gambling/2020/11/19/harris-poll-sports-betting-data
The encouraging COVID-19 vaccine news over the past week from Pfizer and Moderna sent a slew of in-person travel and entertainment stocks surging, including airlines, hotels, real estate, banks, energy names, movie theater chains, and theme parks.
Another group anxiously cheering the arrival of a vaccine is pro sports leagues.
Major League Baseball, which is particularly reliant on ticket revenue, lost $3 billion from its 60-game pandemic mini-seasonwithout fans in the stands, and fears much more in losses if it can’t have fans at games in its 2021 season. The National Basketball Association lost $1.2 billion in revenue from finishing its 2020 season in a bubble with no fans.
In the NFL and in college football, some teams and schools have begun allowing a limited number of fans at their games, with masks on.
But most sports fans are waiting on a vaccine.
In the latest Seton Hall Sports Poll, 67% of Americans surveyed said they will not be comfortable attending an indoor sports event without a COVID-19 vaccine, even with mask-wearing and social-distancing at the event. A slightly slimmer 58% said they would not be comfortable at an outdoor sports event without a vaccine either.
Only 21% of those surveyed said they would attend an indoor sports event prior to the arrival of a vaccine, and 28% said they would attend an outdoor sports event without a vaccine.
The poll surveyed 1,506 American adults from Nov. 13 to Nov. 16, and has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
Interestingly, the numbers have improved somewhat since last April, when the Seton Hall Sports Poll asked the same question (but did not distinguish between indoor or outdoor events) and found that 72% of people would not attend a sports event without a vaccine. (In July, a Yahoo Finance/Harris Poll survey found that 69% of respondents felt either “not at all comfortable” or “not very comfortable” attending a sports event in person.)
But even with that slight improvement, “These are just awful numbers to ponder,” says Daniel Ladik, a marketing professor and poll methodologist at Seton Hall University. “The Pfizer announcement of an imminent and efficacious vaccine was widely published prior to our polling and is presumably reflected in these numbers. An eager nation of sports fans awaits.”
The poll results should also be of interest to other in-person entertainment industries, like movie theaters. Last week, a Yahoo Finance/Harris Poll survey found that 81% of U.S. adults have not been to a movie theater since before March, when widespread lockdowns began, and aren’t comfortable going back yet primarily because of COVID-19 concerns.
Read the full story at Yahoo Finance.
When a vaccine for Covid-19 becomes available — and the supply is sure to be limited — who should get it?
That depends on who you ask.
The Harris Poll released survey data in August that showed how the public believes a future Covid-19 vaccine should be administered. The results were relatively intuitive. Citizens wanted health care workers (73%), people over age 55 (71%), essential workers (60%), and first responders (56%) to receive the first doses.
This public perspective is important, yet it rarely informs the frameworks created by academics or those in government for allocating scarce medical resources like vaccines and ventilators. That needs to change. Public opinion should be taken into consideration every time issues of medical rationing arise.
Take ventilators as an example. There is currently no uniform national framework guiding medical rationing decisions for ventilator use in hospitals and emergency departments. States like New York and Washington had created crisis standards-of-care guidelines before the pandemic emerged. Others, such as New Jersey and Massachusetts, followed suit in the early stages of Covid-19.
Hospital systems often draft their own triage standards or follow the lead of other institutions. At the beginning of the pandemic, for instance, a framework developed by faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine outlined allocation guidelines for ventilators and critical care beds. The framework was adopted by hundreds of hospitals.
Over the years, academic bioethicists have written hundreds of papers outlining rationing frameworks for various scarce medical resources, with dozens tailored specifically to pandemics.
These institutional and academic insights are instructive, but policy conversations like these should also include the public.
In March, an international group of 10 bioethicists, legal scholars, public health experts, and others published in the New England Journal of Medicine an approach to the “fair allocation of scarce medical resources” during the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors promoted a framework, much like the University of Pittsburgh’s guidelines, that weighed competing ethical principles such as “saving the most individual lives” (meaning rescuing the highest number of people) versus “saving the most life-years” (meaning prioritizing the number of potential years preserved in each person’s life) for making rationing decisions. The article was well-researched and thought-provoking, but also controversial for its assertions, as critics argued that “saving the most life-years” would discriminate against the elderly and the disabled.
A diverse group of academics, including conservative scholar Ryan Anderson and progressive icon Cornel West, issued a rejoinder. The 20 signers took exception to guidelines that, in their view, relied too heavily on a life-years approach that in practice would favor younger patients over older ones when competing for the same scarce medical resource. Drawing upon a slippery-slope argument, the authors posed a hypothetical question about whether a ventilator should be denied to a 50-year-old and given to a 30-year-old — and thus likely preserving more life-years — or whether a 30-year-old should lose out to a 15-year-old?
These authors also posed concerns about ventilators being denied to patients with mental or physical disabilities in preference for more “able” individuals. Such concerns came to the fore elsewhere, as disability rights activists in Massachusetts persuaded the state to change its rationing guidelines soon after they were published. Activists in Alabama and Pennsylvania did the same, forcing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to issue multiplestatements addressing these fears about disability discrimination.
The experiences of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Alabama show that large-scale medical decisions are inherently political. So policymakers need to take public opinion into consideration — especially voices from communities of color and individuals earning less than the median income, who are most affected by Covid-19 — in addition to expert opinion from the medical and academic communities. Public policy should ultimately be informed by public opinion.
The Pew Research Center periodically conducts public opinion polling on bioethical issues such as embryological gene editing, human genetic enhancement, and physician-assisted suicide. These insights are informative for academics, policymakers, and the public alike. Conducting similar polling around vaccine or ventilator shortages during pandemics — while still fresh in the public’s mind — could be invaluable for policymakers moving forward, as would state-led citizen focus groups. The state of Washington provides a salient case study of doing this.
In 2018, in a series of seven public hearings, Washington state health officials asked residents to consider medical rationing dilemmas related to a potential pandemic. Residents were asked what should and shouldn’t be prioritized when deciding who should benefit from limited medical resources. The debates offered “rich discussions” about ethics and social utility among diverse populations, and ultimately informed Washington’s crisis standard-of-care guidelines. State and federal policymakers should follow the state’s example, trusting in the ethical convictions of the public.
Medical rationing is one of the most feared concepts in medicine. The phrase is too often used as a political weapon. But discussing the allocation of scarce medical resources such as ventilators and vaccines is necessary, especially amid a pandemic. By remembering the American motto of “e pluribus unum,” the opinions of the “pluribus” should be balanced alongside the “unum” of a select few so we can craft ethical frameworks of, for, and with, all Americans.
Read the full story at STAT News.
On Nov. 5, Britain’s Journal of Medical Ethics published an article by Julian Savulescu, a University of Oxford philosophy professor, arguing that the government should pay people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The American economist Robert Litan, a Brookings Institution nonresident senior fellow, had the same pay-per-jab idea in August, and he put a number on it: $1,000 per person.
Is paying for vaccinations an ingenious idea that will save lives and livelihoods? Or is it an undue government intrusion into people’s lives? It’s a debate the world needs to have, and soon.
Before delving into the pros and cons, consider two related ideas: University of Chicago economist Michael Greenstone wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in May saying people should get paid for taking tests for Covid-19. And Rob Thoburn, who calls himself a “brand samurai” on Medium.com, wrote a Nov. 1 piece saying people should be paid “CoviDollars” for remaining free of the disease. He calls CoviDollars “fiscal stimulus checks, with a twist.”
The pandemic has already cost close to 250,000 lives in the U.S. alone while devastating the economy. And although the news on vaccine trials has been promising, a vaccine is no good if people don’t take it. Several surveys have shown mounting reluctance. An Oct. 7-10 survey by STAT and the Harris Poll found that only 58% of respondents said they would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine was available, down from 69% who said so in mid-August.
In his article, Savulescu seriously considers the option of mandatory vaccinations, arguing that they “can be ethically justified,” but concludes that paying people for jabs is superior. “It is better that people voluntarily choose on the basis of reasons to act well, rather than being forced to do so,” he writes. Which makes sense.
The concept of paying people to take care of themselves precedes Covid-19. Many companies waive or reduce health insurance premiums for employees who participate in wellness programs. (This, of course, is the equivalent of penalizing those who don’t participate, but it feels less coercive.) And there have been many experiments with paying people to stop smokingor lose weight.
So paying for jabs seems like a natural extension. When Litan of Brookings came out with his $1,000-per-vaccination proposal, it was met with enthusiasm by Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw, who wrote in a New York Timescolumn that it was “textbook economics,” which he should know, since he’s written some of the textbooks.
What are the objections? One is cost. But as Litan writes, even if 270 million Americans got paid $1,000 each, the total of $270 billion would be just a fraction of what the federal government has spent and will spend to deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic. Determined anti-vaxxers still wouldn’t get the shot, but the money might persuade enough vaccine vacillators to create “herd immunity.”
A subtler concern is that paying people for vaccines is somehow unseemly or corrupting. Michael Sandel, the rock star Harvard philosophy professor, wrote a whole book called What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, published in 2012. “Today, the logic of buying and selling no longer applies to material goods alone but increasingly governs the whole of life,” he wrote. “It is time to ask whether we want to live this way.”
The BBC’s Radio 4 broadcast a 2012 discussion that Sandel conducted at the London School of Economics, titled “Should We Bribe People to Be Healthy?” The choice of the word “bribe” rather than something more neutral such as “incentivize” or “encourage” might have prejudiced the audience against the concept. This was before the pandemic, but audience members had strong opinions about the issue of the day, paying people to lose weight. One woman, a doctor for Britain’s National Health Service, said payments would insult patients’ dignity. She said it was “unimaginable” that she would offer money to an overweight patient who came to see her. Others said that since some people are desperately short of money, offering them cash to shed pounds could be seen as a form of coercion.
OK, but Covid-19 is such a serious health problem that it seems to override some of those concerns. Here’s how Savulescu deals with the objection that money could unduly influence people:
“Because we cannot get into people’s minds, it is difficult in practice to unravel whether undue influence is occurring—how can you differentiate it from a rational decision? In practice, if it would be acceptable to be vaccinated for nothing, it is acceptable to do it for money. Concerns about undue influence are best met by implementing procedures to minimise bias and irrational decision making, such as cooling off periods, information reframing, and so on.”
Savulescu’s precautions seem like a reasonable way to get the benefits of paying for vaccinations without causing harm.
Read the full story at Bloomberg.
The recent election gave voice to millions of Americans frustrated with their economic circumstances—a concern that predates the devastation wrought by COVID-19. On one side are the blue-collar victims of deindustrialization who, as in 2016, voted for Donald Trump. On the other side are young college graduates struggling to get ahead who, unable to vote for Bernie Sanders, plumped for Biden.
Whatever their political leanings, a vast number of Americans have lost faith in capitalism. A May 2020 JUST Capital and Harris poll found that only 25% of those surveyed agreed that “capitalism works for the ordinary American.” Doubts about capitalism are not limited to the U.S. In a 2020, pre-COVID Edelman survey of 34,000 individuals across 28 countries, 56% of respondents agreed with the statement that “capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good.”
Capitalism is charged with being fixated on shareholder returns, myopically short term, inherently monopolistic, antidemocratic, amoral, rootless, and bad for the planet. But these indictments confuse the concept of capitalism with its implementation.
Capitalism is simply a tool—one that channels savings into investment and rewards risk-takers. Blaming capitalism for its misapplication is like blaming sex for overpopulation, teenage pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases. We can address these problems without all becoming celibate.
So it is with capitalism. You don’t have to be a Marxist to believe we need more vigorous antitrust enforcement, higher standards of environmental accountability, more incentives for people to buy and hold their investments, and stronger laws aimed at preventing tax avoidance and corporate interference in politics.
Yet as sensible as such measures might be, they fail to address what many see as capitalism’s most egregious fault—its failure to equitably distribute the rewards of economic growth and prosperity.
While investors and entrepreneurs have done exceedingly well in recent years, the salaries of ordinary workers have stagnated. The rich have become richer, and the poor poorer. The relative decline in the fortunes of mid- and low-income workers has exacerbated social divisions, fueled the fires of populism, and convinced millions of young people that socialism is their best hope.
But what if the problem is not too much capitalism, but too little? What if the problem is that we have too many wage slaves and not enough owners? At the time of its founding, America was a “republic of the self-employed,” as Roy Jacques put it in his wonderful book, Manufacturing the Employee.
Today, nearly two and half centuries later, a vast majority of Americans still share the dream of working for themselves. In one poll, 77% of millennials said they hoped to start their own business. Sadly, though, the rate of new business creation has been declining in recent years, while the percentage of Americans who work in companies with more than 1,000 employees—41% in 2019—has been growing. For millions of individuals at work, the entrepreneurial dream seems out of reach.
Yet our research suggests they shouldn’t give up hope. A small group of vanguard companies have proven that it’s possible for every employee to enjoy the fruits of ownership—for everyone at work to be a self-managing “micropreneur” blessed with autonomy and a shot at the brass ring.
Consider Nucor. With annual revenues of more than $22 billion, Nucor is America’s most innovative and consistently profitable steel maker. The company is organized into more than 75 autonomous divisions that operate independently but compete collectively. Each division is a self-contained business with a P&L that’s entirely free of corporate cost allocations.
Nucor trains every employee in the economics of the steel industry, and its hyper-empowered operating crews take the lead in business development, customer service, product innovation, process improvement, and cross-plant coordination. Frontline employees participate in a generous bonus system that rewards teams when they boost capital efficiency. Base pay is about 75% of the industry average, but once a team’s output exceeds a threshold, typically 80% of the plant’s rated capacity, the bonus plan kicks in.
The incentive threshold is fixed and gets adjusted only when capital investments increase the rated output of a particular piece of machinery or the entire plant. Since the only way to increase their bonus is to produce more steel for a given amount of capital, team members have a powerful incentive to “sweat the assets.” In practice, this means using their ingenuity to shrink costs, speed up workflows, and search for ways of producing higher-margin products.
To keep employees free of bureaucratic meddling, Nucor has chosen not to centralize functions like R&D, sales, marketing, strategy, safety, engineering, compliance, and purchasing. It also has about a third as many managers per capita as its major competitors. Nucor’s headquarters, for example, has just 100 staffers—about 10% of the number who work in the head office of Nucor's next biggest U.S. competitor. Nucor’s general and administrative expenses hover around 3%, or roughly half that of the industry average. As a plant leader put it, “At Nucor, being a manager is the least noble thing you can do.”
The trust Nucor’s leaders place in their frontline teammates pays big dividends—for shareholders and employees. Nucor’s return on capital exceeds industry norms by 50% and its revenue per employee is a whopping three times the industry average. In return for this performance, Nucor’s factory workers earn significantly more than their peers. They also enjoy a high degree of job security. One of Nucor’s most famous mottos is “Do your job well today, have it tomorrow.” The company has never laid off employees at its steel mills, a remarkable feat in a highly cyclical industry that shed 40% of its employees in the last decade.
Haier, the global home appliance leader, is another case study in workplace capitalism. (Disclosure: with Haier, we co-host an annual conference on the future of management. We’ve also co-developed a free online course for management innovators).
With 45,000 employees in China, Haier has divided itself into more than 4,000 microenterprises, or MEs. These include roughly 200 market-facing MEs that design and sell appliances, and thousands of distribution and “node” MEs that sell R&D, manufacturing, marketing, and HR support to internal customers. Market-facing MEs contract with nodes for critical services, and each contract contains a clause that links payout to the success of the final product in the market. In this way, every employee’s pay is tied to market outcomes.
As self-governing businesses, MEs are guaranteed “three freedoms:” the freedom to set direction; the freedom to hire, fire, and organize as they see fit; and the freedom to distribute rewards within the team.
As with Nucor, base pay at Haier is modest, but when employees hit ambitious “leading targets,” they have the chance to multiply their income several times over. Employees are also able to invest their own money in their ME, and can receive a hefty dividend when certain targets are met.
Zhang Ruimin, Haier’s pioneering CEO and chairman, describes the goal of Haier’s unique management model as “giving every employee the opportunity to become their own CEO.”
Read the full story at Fortune.
New Harris Poll data indicates the growth of legalized sports wagering may be even more powerful than ever before.
By WILL JOHNSON | Sports Illustrated
Which is America’s game, football or baseball?
The answer is well on its way to becoming: neither. With astonishing speed, the national pastime is becoming sports betting — to the benefit of the sports leagues that long had rejected the practice.
As their numbers grow, these bettors could also reverse the slide in sports viewership, boosting the fortunes of professional sports’ broadcast partners and the consumer brands that advertise during commercial breaks in the action. That’s because people with money on the line watch more games than non-bettors, with a third of gamblers saying they watch several events every day, according to our polling of American adults.
In the two-and-a-half years since the Supreme Court effectively legalized sports betting nationwide, 21 states plus the District of Columbia enacted legislation permitting gambling on professional sports. The latest to join in include Maryland, Louisiana and South Dakota, where on Election Day, voterse approved ballot referendums allowing sports betting. That figure could reach 37 states by the end of 2023.
Wagering on sports also has been spurred by the rocket rise of fantasy sports, itself a species of sports betting. According to the same research from the Harris Poll, 69% of sports bettors became interested in it after participating in a fantasy sports league.
The money is also big and getting bigger. In the two years following the Supreme Court’s May 2018 ruling, bettors have wagered more than $20 billion. That translated to more than $800 million in revenue in 2019 for casinos like MGM and Caesars and sports-betting sites led by DraftKings and FanDuel; a sum that could rise to $8 billion by 2025.
What once was happened only in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas.
That kind of scratch can expedite a lot of friendship with the lords of professional sports. Every major pro league has cut deals with sportsbooks by either selling their data to the bookmakers or enlistingbetting partners. Individual teams are getting in the action, too.
My hometown Chicago Cubs announced in September a partnership with DraftKings that eventually will include a full-blown sportsbook operation within Wrigley Field. The Windy City has come full circle since the century-old Black Sox scandal, in which the 1919 Chicago White Sox admitted to throwing the World Series against Cincinnati Reds, nearly wrecking the sport. Perhaps not surprisingly, the White Sox don’t yet have an official betting partner.
This is quite the turnabout for pro sports, which collectively sued to stop the spread of sports gambling and was on the losing side in that 2018 Supreme Court case.
Cash payments aren’t the only reason teams suddenly loves gambling. Owners and executives also know that bettors have a literal and figurative investment in players, teams and outcomes of games. Exclusive new research from the Harris Poll found that 63% of sports gamblers have watched sports more frequently since they started gambling; and 73% agree they enjoy watching sports more when they have money riding on a game.
There’s no sign that the national passion for sports betting is close to topping out. Our research shows that younger adults are more likely to bet on sports (23% of 18-34-year-olds and 26% of 34-44) than older generations (19% of 45-54, 12% of 55-64 and 6% of those over age 65).
The guys you likely suspect to be most into sports betting are, in fact, guys. More than half of men ages 35-44 who gamble say they bet on sports at least once a day. But women are betting on sports, too, and present a growth opportunity.
Those aged 18-34 are dramatically more likely to engage in sports betting than their older counterparts. And the same data shows that women are more likely to start betting because their friends do, making it a real-world network effect: women betting prompt more women to bet.
In 2020, the league of sports bettors wasn’t enough to sustain interest in broadcast games and events. Viewership was down over the summer for pro basketball, hockey, baseball, golf and tennis, with ratings for the NBA Finals plunging 49% from 2019. The NFL’s TV audience is also smaller this fall compared to last year’s. Sports’ stumbles are one big reason ad spending on television is projected to decline 15% from 2019.
Don’t blame stay-at-home gamblers for any of this, however. The COVID-19 pandemic has only hastened the sports betting trend. While only 18% of Americans currently engage in sports betting, one-third of sports bettors started during the last nine months, according to our research. Professional golf has adapted accordingly.
Realizing that it uniquely lent itself to social distancing, the PGA scrambled to optimize itself for online betting, with tremendous success. “At DraftKings alone,” the Washington Post wrote, “the sportsbook handle for golf has increased tenfold this year compared with last.”
Such rapid success brings challenges, of course. An estimated 2 million Americans have severe gambling problems, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling, with another 4 million to 6 million having mild to moderate problems. Those figures — and the individual and family lives whose disruption they represent — are likely to rise as betting becomes more widely accessible. Leagues will also face renewed problems ensuring the integrity of their product and avoiding a Black Sox repeat.
But judging by the surge across the nation, it will not be too long before betting becomes a kind of meta national pastime — one diversion to rule all the rest.
Read the full story at Sports Illustrated.
Will Johnson is CEO of The Harris Poll, one of the world’s leading public opinion, market research and strategy firms as known as Harris Insights & Analytics. Will previously was president of BAV Consulting, a Young & Rubicam Group company.
Follow him on LinkedIn: William Johnson
Follow The Harris Poll on Twitter: @HarrisPoll