Discrimination is Alive and Well and Living in America

New York , N.Y. – February 18, 2014 – Some would argue that the United States has come a long way in tackling discrimination, and that the U.S. is far more progressive and equality-minded than either its historical self or many countries today. However, a recent Harris Poll clearly demonstrates that Americans still believe many groups are discriminated against in this country. This comes on the heels of a Harris Poll released last week, which explored changes – and lack thereof – that the past 45 years have seen in perceived discrimination toward blacks in the United States.

When Americans are presented with several groups – Blacks; Hispanics; people of Middle Eastern descent; Women; and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) adults – and asked if those groups are discriminated against in each of a series of aspects of American life, majorities feel discrimination exists for most of these groups in at least one area.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,236 adults surveyed online between January 15 and 20, 2014.

Who is most discriminated against?

The easy answer to this deceptively complex question is: everyone. Each of the five groups tested were among those most likely to be seen as discriminated against in at least one aspect of American life.

Blacks are the group most perceived as discriminated against in the following areas:

  • In the way they are treated by police (59%);
  • In getting decent housing (34%);
  • In getting a quality education in public schools (26%).

Hispanics, meanwhile, are among those most perceived as discriminated against in getting both white collar office jobs (39%) and skilled labor jobs (29%).

Turning to those of Middle Eastern descent, this group is among those most commonly perceived as discriminated against in the way they are treated by the federal government (34%), a perceptual distinction they share with LGBT Americans (35%).

By a considerable margin, women are the group most perceived as discriminated against in the wages they are paid (60%). They also rank second only to LGBT adults as the group most perceived as discriminated against in getting full equality (52%).

LGBT Americans are the group most perceived as discriminated against in the way they are treated as human beings (62%) and in getting full equality (57%), along with ranking just ahead of people of Middle Eastern descent for the perception that they are discriminated against in the way they are treated by the federal government (35%).

Perhaps not surprisingly, when results are examined specifically among the group in question (for example, looking at black Americans’ opinions on whether blacks are in fact discriminated against), perceived discrimination outpaces perceptions among the general population nearly across the board. Some especially compelling examples of perceived discrimination among affected groups include:

  • A vast majority of black Americans (85%) feel that blacks are discriminated against in the way they are treated by police, while nearly eight in ten feel they are discriminated against in getting full equality (78%), roughly seven in ten say the same for the way they are treated as human beings (71%) and in getting white collar office jobs (70%), and roughly six in ten say the same for the wages they are paid (63%), getting decent housing (62%), getting skilled labor jobs (61%) and the way they are treated by the federal government (60%).
  • Roughly eight in ten LGBT adults feel that LGBT Americans are discriminated against in getting full equality, nearly three-fourths feel they are discriminated against in the way they are treated as human beings (73%), and roughly two-thirds feel they are discriminated against in the way they are treated by both police (67%) and the federal government (65%).
  • Seven in ten American women feel that women are discriminated against in the wages they are paid (70%), and more than six in ten feel that women are discriminated against in getting full equality (62%).
  • Over six in ten Hispanic Americans feel that Hispanics are discriminated against in the way they are treated by police (62%), and just over half feel they are discriminated against in getting full equality (52%) and in the wages they are paid (51%).

Those of Middle Eastern descent represent too small a sample to be accurately represented in an examination of their own views on discrimination.

Perceived discrimination toward this group varies significantly – and consistently – along political party lines. For every group, and for most or all aspects of American life tested, Democrats are consistently more likely than either Independents or Republicans to perceive discrimination against this group; Independents, in turn, are consistently more likely than Republicans to perceive such discrimination.

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TABLE 1a

PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST BLACKS IN AMERICA

by All Americans, Black Americans and White Americans

For each of the following, please indicate if you think blacks are discriminated against in that area or not?

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: All Americans

Total

Black

White

%

%

%

In the way they are treated by police

59

85

55

In getting full equality

45

78

41

In the way they are treated as human beings

44

71

39

In getting white collar office jobs

34

70

28

In getting decent housing

34

62

28

In the wages they are paid

31

63

25

In getting skilled labor jobs

27

61

22

In getting a quality education in public schools

26

45

22

In the way they are treated by the federal government

23

60

16

In getting hotel and motel accommodations

19

36

15

In getting into labor unions

18

41

14

In getting manual labor jobs

15

30

12

In the prices they pay in grocery stores

10

34

7

 

TABLE 1b

PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST BLACKS IN AMERICA

by Political Party

For each of the following, please indicate if you think blacks are discriminated against in that area or not?

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: All Americans

Total

Republican

Democrat

Independent

%

%

%

%

In the way they are treated by police

59

39

77

58

In getting full equality

45

23

65

42

In the way they are treated as human beings

44

24

61

42

In getting white collar office jobs

34

16

51

31

In getting decent housing

34

18

49

31

In the wages they are paid

31

15

46

27

In getting skilled labor jobs

27

10

40

27

In getting a quality education in public schools

26

12

38

24

In the way they are treated by the federal government

23

9

34

20

In getting hotel and motel accommodations

19

7

27

18

In getting into labor unions

18

11

24

15

In getting manual labor jobs

15

6

24

12

In the prices they pay in grocery stores

10

4

15

10

 

TABLE 2a

PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST HISPANICS IN AMERICA

by All Americans, Hispanic Americans and White Americans

For each of the following, please indicate if you think Hispanics are discriminated against in that area or not?

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: All Americans

Total

Hispanic

White

%

%

%

In the way they are treated by police

50

62

45

In getting full equality

44

52

39

In the wages they are paid

43

51

39

In the way they are treated as human beings

40

45

36

In getting white collar office jobs

39

46

35

In getting decent housing

30

41

26

In getting skilled labor jobs

29

32

26

In the way they are treated by the federal government

28

32

23

In getting a quality education in public schools

24

25

21

 

TABLE 2b

PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST HISPANICS IN AMERICA

by Political Party

For each of the following, please indicate if you think Hispanics are discriminated against in that area or not?

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: All Americans

Total

Republican

Democrat

Independent

%

%

%

%

In the way they are treated by police

50

36

63

48

In getting full equality

44

26

61

38

In the wages they are paid

43

27

60

39

In the way they are treated as human beings

40

24

55

37

In getting white collar office jobs

39

24

53

34

In getting decent housing

30

16

43

26

In getting skilled labor jobs

29

17

42

24

In the way they are treated by the federal government

28

15

40

23

In getting a quality education in public schools

24

12

33

22

 

TABLE 3a

PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN AMERICA

by All Americans, Women and Men

For each of the following, please indicate if you think women are discriminated against in that area or not?

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: All Americans

Total

Women

Men

%

%

%

In the wages they are paid

60

70

49

In getting full equality

52

62

41

In the way they are treated as employees

46

56

36

In the way they are treated as human beings

33

40

26

In getting white collar office jobs

33

39

27

In the way they are treated by the federal government

23

26

18

In the way they are treated by police

19

22

15

 

TABLE 3b

PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN AMERICA

by Political Party

For each of the following, please indicate if you think women are discriminated against in that area or not?

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: All Americans

Total

Republican

Democrat

Independent

%

%

%

%

In the wages they are paid

60

49

74

57

In getting full equality

52

39

68

48

In the way they are treated as employees

46

33

60

43

In the way they are treated as human beings

33

21

43

32

In getting white collar office jobs

33

23

45

29

In the way they are treated by the federal government

23

14

29

22

In the way they are treated by police

19

11

24

18


TABLE 4a

PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBT AMERICANS

by All Americans, LGBT and Not LGBT

For each of the following, please indicate if you think Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) Americans are discriminated against in that area or not?

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: All Americans

Total

LGBT

Not LGBT

%

%

%

In the way they are treated as human beings

62

73

61

In getting full equality

57

81

55

In the way they are treated by the federal government

35

65

33

In the way they are treated by police

33

67

31

In getting white collar office jobs

25

49

24

In the wages they are paid

17

32

15

 

TABLE 4b

PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBT AMERICANS

by Political Party

For each of the following, please indicate if you think Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) Americans are discriminated against in that area or not?

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: All Americans

Total

Republican

Democrat

Independent

%

%

%

%

In the way they are treated as human beings

62

42

80

60

In getting full equality

57

40

76

53

In the way they are treated by the federal government

35

20

47

33

In the way they are treated by police

33

18

46

32

In getting white collar office jobs

25

13

36

24

In the wages they are paid

17

8

24

13


TABLE 5

PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PEOPLE OF MIDDLE EASTERN DESCENT IN AMERICA

by All Americans, Republicans, Democrats and Independents

For each of the following, please indicate if you think people of Middle Eastern descent are discriminated against in that area or not?

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: All Americans

Total

Republicans

Democrats

Independents

%

%

%

%

In the way they are treated as human beings

47

32

61

43

In the way they are treated by police

46

33

57

45

In getting full equality

38

23

49

36

In the way they are treated by the federal government

34

18

47

30

In getting white collar office jobs

27

18

34

24

In getting skilled labor jobs

22

14

31

18

In getting decent housing

20

11

28

19

In the wages they are paid

20

12

27

15

In getting a quality education in public schools

15

7

21

12

 

TABLE 6a

COMPARATIVE PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION – among All Americans

(Columns refer to group being discussed – all results are among ALL Americans)

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: All Americans

Blacks

Hispanics

Women

LGBT

Middle Eastern

%

%

%

%

%

In the way they are treated by police

59

50

19

33

46

In getting full equality

45

44

52

57

38

In the way they are treated as human beings

44

40

33

62

47

In getting white collar office jobs

34

39

33

25

27

In getting decent housing

34

30

n/a

n/a

20

In the wages they are paid

31

43

60

17

20

In getting skilled labor jobs

27

29

n/a

n/a

22

In getting a quality education in public schools

26

24

n/a

n/a

15

In the way they are treated by the federal government

23

28

23

35

34

Note: n/a indicates not asked among that sample


TABLE 6b

COMPARATIVE PERCEIVED DISCRIMINATION – among Affected Americans

(Columns refer to BOTH the group being discussed AND the group whose responses are being presented)

Percent saying Discriminated Against

Base: Affected Americans

Blacks

Hispanics

Women

LGBT

%

%

%

%

In the way they are treated by police

85

62

22

67

In getting full equality

78

52

62

81

In the way they are treated as human beings

71

45

40

73

In getting white collar office jobs

70

46

39

49

In the wages they are paid

63

51

70

32

In getting decent housing

62

41

n/a

n/a

In getting skilled labor jobs

61

32

n/a

n/a

In the way they are treated by the federal government

60

32

26

65

In getting a quality education in public schools

45

25

n/a

n/a

Note: n/a indicates not asked among that sample

Note – incidence of Middle Eastern Americans too low to include as a sub-sample

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 15 and 20, 2014 among 2,236 adults (aged 18 and over). 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 also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #16, February 18, 2014

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.