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Most Americans plan to use telehealth post-pandemic: If given the option between a telehealth visit or an in-person visit, 42% would choose a combo of in-person & virtual. 44% still prefer in-person visits, & 15% said they would opt for telehealth alone. https://bit.ly/39svSXZ
Our #COVID tracker found optimism this week: 43% are confident we'll reach herd immunity & return to normal in summer '21. Younger Americans (50% of Gen Z & 52% of Gen X) are most optimistic about a return to normal, while 35% Boomers aren't so confident. https://bit.ly/3oIw1N5
Nationwide support for student debt and education cost reform
Although Americans rank borrowers as having the primary responsibility for fixing the student loan debt crisis, they also support the government passing a range of potential reforms.
Frequently recommended solutions, such as forgiveness of a flat amount of student debt (64%) and forgiveness of all student loan debt (55%), are supported by more than half the country. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) support forgiveness of all student loan debt for those working in certain industries like health care, science & technology, or public service.
Moreover, Americans show very strong support for other potential solutions including lower interest rates on students that attend public universities (83%), automatic student loan forbearance if someone loses employment (72%), and updating bankruptcy laws to get rid of student debt (66%).
Americans also supported changes to the cost of a university education. Such solutions included restrictions or price controls on the cost of a university education (78%), no tuition at public colleges or universities (59%), no tuition for undergraduate schooling (56%), and no tuition for any U.S. college or university (53%).
It appears the incoming presidential administration and Congress may have more options to work with than they realize.
Most Americans think the Biden administration can successfully handle the student debt crisis
Even though only 17% of Americans think the the president should have the primary for fixing the student loan debt crisis in the U.S., 57% of Americans agree that the incoming presidential administration is capable of fixing the student loan crisis. In fact, 53% of Americans agree that the Biden administration will fix the student loan crisis within the next four years.
Biden's incoming administration has the strongest support among younger Americans, people of color, parents, and -- of course -- student loan debtors. Americans ages 18-34, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, parents of children under 18, and student loan debtors all rank the president first in terms of who should be responsible for fixing the student debt crisis.
A concerned coalition
Across the board, ethnic minorities are in greater support of reforms to student loan debt and education costs compared to White Americans. Americans of color overwhelmingly support forgiveness of all student loan debt, forgiveness of a flat amount of student loan debt, updating bankruptcy laws to get rid of student debt, no tuition at public U.S. colleges or universities, no tuition for undergraduate schooling, and no tuition for any college or university.
Perhaps given the different industries they tend to pursue and general socioeconomic differences, more African Americans (78%) and Hispanic Americans (80%) support loan forgiveness for those working in certain industries compared to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (55%) and White Americans (58%).
Biden's support among parents may also be due to broad parental concern. Parents of younger Gen Z students and Generation Alpha (i.e., children under 18) are also in greater support of potential student loan reform ideas compared to the entire country. This includes restrictions or price controls on the cost of a university education (81%), forgiveness of a flat amount of student debt (75%), updating bankruptcy laws to include erasing student debt (75%), forgiveness of all student loan debt (69%), no tuition for undergraduate school (69%), no tuition at public universities (66%), and no tuition for any U.S. university (64%).
Three in five parents of children under 18 believe the incoming administration is capable of fixing the student loan debt crisis. It's no wonder they rank the president first for having the primary responsibility for fixing the crisis.
Even Millennials and Boomers, the generation that birthed most Millennials, share concerns around the cost of education. Both generations overwhelmingly support restrictions or price controls on the cost of a university education (81% of Millennials, 80% of Boomers). In fact, more Boomers (86%) support lower interest rates on student loans for those that attend public U.S. universities than Millennials (78%). Boomers who supported forgiveness of a flat amount of student loan debt also suggested a higher average amount of forgiveness compared to Millennials ($24,349 vs. $23,241, respectively).
Student loan debtors would redo much of their college experience because of the student debt they have today. Additionally, they view their degrees as less valuable both personally and financially.
Just over half (52%) of debtors agree they regret attending college in general because of the student loan debt they have today. If they could do it all over over, half of student loan debtors say they would have chosen a less expensive college (57%), chosen a different major (56%), or not attended college at all (52%) because of their current student loan debt.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of student loan debtors view their college degree(s) as less personally valuable than they did when they started college, and 60% of student loan debtors say their degree is not worth the amount of student loan debt they’ve taken on.
There is notable pessimism regarding the long-term value of college degrees, too. Nearly half of all student loan debtors (46%) agree that their university degree will be worthless to employers before they retire.
Student loan debt slows life down
According to the latest government statistics, 42.3 million people — one in every six adults — have federal student loans, averaging $36,520 per person. In our study, nearly two-thirds (61%) of student loan debtors say they’re struggling to pay back these loans because of the pandemic.
Young Americans have it especially tough. To pay off their student loan debts, a third to nearly half of student loan debtors ages 18-34 say they decided not to save for a home (44%) and not to invest in their retirement (34%). Thirty-six percent say they do not even have savings because they have decided to pay off their student loan debts first.
In addition to student loan debt struggles, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing many younger Americans to delay life milestones. One in five Americans ages 18-34 plan to live with their parents for a longer period. Young people are delaying buying a car (22%), moving to a new place (18%), purchasing a home (15%), getting married (12%), and having children (13%).
Current students are also altering their plans by delaying car purchases (41%), living with their parents for a longer period (41%), delaying moving to a new place (27%), and reducing necessity purchases such as medical care, toiletries, and transportation (25%).
It's unsurprising, then, that younger Americans are more likely to support the government passing different types of loan forgiveness compared to older Americans. Compared to just half of those over 55, Americans ages 18-34 overwhelmingly support forgiveness of a flat amount of student debt (78%), forgiveness of all student loan debt (73%), and forgiveness of all student loan debt for those employed in certain industries like healthcare or public service.
Compared to less than half of those over 55, younger Americans are also more welcome to the government passing university tuition adjustments such as no tuition for undergraduate schooling (68%), no tuition and public U.S. colleges or universities (68%), and no tuition for any U.S. college or university (64%).
A potential loan debt cancellation spree
Only three in five student loan debtors (62%) appear to understand that filing for bankruptcy doesn't cancel student loan debt. This is concerning considering one in three (34%) student loan debtors have contemplated filing for bankruptcy because of their student loan debt. (It's unclear whether this group aims to minimize their total debt to just student debt loans or if this group incorrectly believes they can cancel their student debt.)
What's even more concerning is that 53% of student loan debtors would file for bankruptcy if the government allowed bankruptcy to eliminate student loan debt. This may be one reason why 85% of student loan debtors support updating bankruptcy lase to include erasing student debt.
Student debt reform may hold the answer to improving national education levels
More than half of Americans support no tuition for undergraduate schooling (56%), for public U.S. colleges or universities (59%), or for any U.S. college or university (53%).
Declining post-secondary enrollment rates in the U.S. could also be reversed with lower college costs and debt reform. In fact, 63% of student loan debtors debtors say that if the cost of a university education went down, they would pursue a more advance degree.
In the meantime, some student loan debtors have pursued alternatives with 29% saying they have used online courses like Coursera and edX or self-education platforms like Duolingo and Codecademy as a substitute for taking college courses.
Although Biden has said he will propose legislation to forgive up to $10,000 in student debt for each borrower, it's still unclear what solutions Congress will ultimately pursue. One thing both sides of the aisle should realize, though, is that when it comes to student loan debt, Americans overwhelmingly support big change.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on December 18-21, 2020, among 1,015 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. For more information on methodology, please contact Dami Rosanwo.
Download full data here.
Drawing on their COVID weekly tracker of American sentiment through the crisis, John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, presented a data-driven portrait of what the virus truly changed in America’s future trajectory.
Download the full insights deck.
If you have any questions on the data, please reach out to our CEO John Gerzema ([email protected]). For questions on services offered by The Harris Poll, please reach out to Zeke Hughes ([email protected]).
Perhaps it's the rollout of a vaccine, a change in government, or the promise of a new year, but despite the pandemic, most Americans feel about the same or better right now than they did during this time of year in previous years. In fact, three-quarters (75%) of Americans say that they feel emotionally about the same or better this time of year in 2021 than they have felt during this time of year in previous years. Nearly four in ten (79%) Americans also say their sense of purpose in life is stronger than or about the same as it was during this time in 2020.
Even so, one-third (33%) of Americans are still suffering from seasonal depression. Winter weather is the primary reason for their depression, with most saying they feel most depressed because it gets dark outside too early (54%) and because of the cold weather (50%).
They also perceive this time of year as a letdown compared to the excitement of the holidays. Over a quarter say they feel most depressed this time of year because of post-holiday blues (31%), nothing to look forward to after the holiday (28%), and less time with family and friends compared to the holidays (26%).
(It's worth noting that within this group, 28% also suffer from depression in general.)
Those below the retirement age (<65 years) and, more specifically, the employed were more likely to say they feel depressed during this time of year (both 38%). While the cold weather (49%), early darkness (48%), and post-holiday blues (32%), were top reasons for this group, 40% of employed Americans also said one of the reasons they feel most depressed is due to returning to work after the holidays.
Parents echo these sentiments. Nearly half (45%) of all parents of children under 18 say they normally feel depressed during this time of year. In addition to the weather, they cite returning to work after the holidays (41%) and post-holiday blues (38%) as top reasons for their depression compared. In fact, they are twice as likely to mention returning to work as a reason for depression compared to those without children under 18 (41% vs. 19%, respectively).
Although employees may not be eager to return to the office after the holidays, 41% do feel their sense of purpose at work is stronger than it was at this time one year ago.
Men and women who suffer from seasonal depression also experience this time of year differently. Women appear more affected by the weather than men. Aside from general depression, women are more likely to mention cold weather (62% women vs. 42% men) and early darkness (62% of women vs. 37% of men) as the primary cause of their depression.
Men were more likely to cite returning to work (42% men vs. 19% women) and post-holiday blues (40% men vs. 24% women) as their primary sources of depression. Despite low excitement to get back to work, men still feel a stronger sense of purpose at work (44% men vs. 37% women) and life in general (39% men vs. 31% women) compared to this time last year.
Americans appear to have tried and true methods for handling seasonal depression even during a pandemic. Overall, those suffering from seasonal depression plan to do what they’ve always done to boost their moods during this time of year. Top activities include binge-watching TV shows and movies (40%), socializing with family and friends (37%), reading a good book (35%), spending more time with a significant other (35%), and exercise more often (28%).
Further underscoring their differences with depression, women plan to rely more on socialization and at-home entertainment while men prefer to get out of the house to alleviate depression. Women are significantly more likely to binge-watch TV shows and movies (45% women vs. 34% men) and socialize with friends and family (42% women vs. 30% men). Men are more likely to travel or plan a trip (32% men vs. 21% women); attend live events like concerts, plays, and sports (25% men vs. 11% women); and go to the movies (24% men vs. 14% women).
Of course, the pandemic has still influenced how often Americans suffering from seasonal depression will do some activities. This year, fewer Americans will socialize with family friends (50% previous years vs. 37% this year) or plan a trip (32% previous years vs. 25% this year) to improve their mood.
These more entertaining opportunities are preferable to seeking counseling or professional help, something only a fifth of Americans do to deal with seasonal depression (19% in past years, 21% this year).
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on January 8-11, 2021, among 1,018 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. For more information on methodology, please contact Dami Rosanwo.
Download full data here.
Most Americans, but not most Republicans, support Twitter’s permanent suspension of President Donald Trump after the deadly U.S. Capitol siege, according to a new survey from The Harris Poll shared exclusively with USA TODAY.
A majority of Americans – 61% – said they agreed with Twitter’s decision to ban Trump over the risk the president would use the platform to incite further violence, while 39% opposed it.
“Americans were outraged by what they saw at the Capitol last week, and they’re looking for leadership from the business community,” John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, told USA TODAY in a statement. “In the absence of action from political leaders, they see a Twitter ban as a reasonable step – and one that will hopefully prevent future dangerous situations.”
But in a vivid representation of the nation's raw divisions, opinions split along partisan lines, with 36% of Republicans supporting the ban versus 80% of Democrats and 59% of independents.
The removal of Trump's Twitter account has sparked censorship concerns among Republicans. More than a third of Americans – 36% – said they were concerned about censorship, but that view was not held by the majority: 69% said social media companies should be able to remove users they consider dangerous, even if it's the president of the United States.
And 40% of Americans say Trump should have been banned earlier and described Twitter’s removal as “too little, too late.”
Thirty-seven percent of the 1,951 American adults surveyed over the weekend said they were embarrassed that Trump was banned.
Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement “President Trump's actions this week were dangerous and removing him from Twitter was the correct thing to do.” Forty-two percent agreed with the statement “I am concerned that Twitter permanently suspending President Trump sets a dangerous precedent with technology companies censoring free speech and government officials.”
Another poll from Morning Consult released Tuesday found that half of the 2,200 Americans surveyed over the weekend about Twitter’s permanent ban and Facebook’s temporary ban believe social media companies should have cut off Trump earlier. About 39% of the Americans surveyed said the temporary ban was “exactly right,”
But again opinions differed by party: 69% of Republicans said the suspensions went too far, while 43% said they didn’t go far enough.
Read the full story at USA Today.
As the coronavirus rages across the US like a continental wildfire, one group seems to be mercifully spared: school-aged children.
While K-12 kids make up 16% of the US population, they have accounted for just 4% of all COVID-19 cases. To date, only 219 children under 18 have died from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a recent report, or less than 0.09% of the pandemic's death toll, which has now topped 370,000 nationally.
But while children experience less severe illness than adults, they are still suffering from COVID-19's harmful effects. In a new surveyby the Harris Poll, parents say many symptoms of mental illness have increased among their school-aged kids since the pandemic erupted last March. Parents describe one in eight of their children's mental health as poor or fair today. Even so, fewer parents say they're seeking mental health treatment for their children. Fewer also say treatment seems effective.
School-age children are feeling the effects of the pandemic
As a pediatrician and a pollster, we know from our work that the overwhelming majority of parents are doing what they can to protect their children from harm. And as parents of school-aged children, we recognize that despite our best efforts, we are unable to shield our children entirely from the stress and disruption caused by the pandemic. COVID-19 damages people's well-being, whether they're 50 or, as this survey confirms, 15 or five.
Even during "normal" times, of course, some share of children suffered from anxiety, depression or other mental health disorders. Parents in our survey say that before the pandemic, at least 10% of their school-aged children showed mental health symptoms such as eruptions of anger, difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness, lethargy, fear and headaches. The behaviors were most prevalent in households with incomes under $50,000 a year.
But because of the coronavirus, little today is normal. According to our survey, only 16% of children 18 years old or younger are back in school this fall; the rest are socially isolated, being taught at home or in hybrid programs of remote and in-classroom instruction.
School disruption is only one of the coronavirus-related stressors faced by children. During the pandemic, 10% of school-age children had a COVID-19-related death in the family, 18% had a parent lose a job, and 45% had parents suffer a drop in income. One in nine children has experienced psychological abuse and a quarter have faced food insecurity. These percentages are highest in households with pre-K children.
Kids' mental health is deteriorating
Despite such hardships, two-thirds of children had parents who say their children's physical health is very good or excellent. Their mental health, however, is deteriorating. Barely half of children had parents who consider the mental health of their children to be very good or excellent right now, while 13% are in fair or poor condition.
More school-age children are exhibiting signs of mental illness, too, and those affected have a broader range of symptoms. Since COVID-19 hit, according to their parents, one in seven kids has been quick to anger, has trouble concentrating, and has low energy. And at least 10% worry constantly, have reduced interest in everyday activities, procrastinate or neglect duties, have reduced interest in relationships or social interactions, have difficulty sleeping, are more sensitive to rejection or failure, have headaches, have nervous habits like nail-biting, are sad frequently, and clingy. Again, these behaviors are most common in poorer households, where over 40% of children display many of these troubling symptoms.
Before 2020, 18% of children had parents say they sought counseling or therapy for their children's disorders, and 17% had parents say their children were prescribed medications. Half had parents who thought therapy was extremely or very effective then, and 61% had parents who believed medications were extremely or very effective, with only 6% of children's parents calling medications not very helpful and none saying it was of no help.
Today, 17% of children are in counseling or therapy and 14% are being treated for mental illness with medication, based on our survey of representative American adults. Half of children's parents think therapy is still an extremely or very effective treatment for the kids, but 11% of children now have parents who say it is not very or not at all effective. The share of children whose parents say medication is extremely or very effective has slipped to 59%, while one in 10 now have parents who say drug treatment is not very effective or doing no good at all.
So what do we do about this?
As the Biden administration, together with state and local governments, weigh whether to close or open parts of our economy, decision-makers need to recognize the impact of school closures on the well-being of our children and prioritize returning children to the classroom, to reduce the social isolation that surely is exacerbating children's mental health issues. Mental health care, as a vital component of pediatric health care, must be made available to all children across the country.
Most important, parents need to recognize the risks that the pandemic poses for their kids, no matter how carefully they've been shielded, or how little or grown-up they are. And if parents see symptoms of mental illness in their children, they need to seek help for them. A good first step for many families would be to schedule a telehealth appointment with their general pediatrician.
As parents and as a society, we must do all that we can to protect the mental and physical health of our children while we wait to move on to a post-COVID-19 way of life.
Read the full story at Business Insider.