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Poll: Concerns About Racial Tensions Decline Sharply In America

Los Angeles, CA, November 13, 2008 There has been a steep decline in concerns about racial tensions in America over the past 15 years, according to a newly released poll from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).  The poll also found a significant majority -- 66% -- views the growth of America's minority populations as advantageous to the economy and society.

American Attitudes on Immigration and Diversity, a national poll of 1,000 American adults conducted on October 26, 2008 by the Marttila Communications Group, found that only one-third of the American people believes that racial tensions are increasing in this country.  That is a substantial decline from 1992, when three-quarters of the American people expressed the same sentiment.

The poll also found that 66% of Americans view the country's population growth due to immigration as "an advantage for America."  The poll was released during the League's 2008 annual meeting in Los Angeles.
"We are seeing a profound sea change in American attitudes toward minorities, immigration and diversity," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "The good news is that the American people are increasingly tolerant toward other ethnic groups and hold a positive outlook toward the nation's growing immigrant population and its contributions to the economy and society."

Among the main findings of the ADL survey, American Attitudes on Immigration and Diversity:

  There has been a steep decline in concern about racial tensions over the past 15 years.  There has been a continuing decline among those who feel that "there has been an increase in the level of tension between different racial and ethnic groups in American society," from 76% in 1992, to 35% in 2008 (graph).

  When asked whether they think the growth in the minority population "will be an advantage for America, or a disadvantage" in terms of building a strong economy, 66% of the American people responded that they believe the growth is "an advantage for America" a dramatic increase from the 39% of Americans who felt that way in 1992. (graph)

  Americans do not begrudge immigrant success stories, but some worry about the practical impact of immigration on the availability of jobs, housing and heath care.  When asked whether it bothered them to see "immigrants succeeding more than Americans who were born here," 65% disagreed with that statement, while 31% agreed.   And while a majority -- 55% -- disagreed that immigrants are "a burden on our economy because they take our jobs, housing and health care," 42% agreed with that statement. (graph)

  An overwhelming majority of Americans -- 74% -- continue to believe that students perform better in schools with "a racially and ethnically diverse student body." (graph)

The survey was conducted by the Marttila Communications Group, a Boston-based public opinion research firm that has conducted numerous national surveys for ADL measuring American attitudes on a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues.  The margin of error is +/-3.09 percent.  For many questions, the survey used the technique of "split sampling," in which the 1,000 person sample was split into two demographically representative national samples of 500 respondents each.  The margin of error for questions answered by 500 respondents is +/-4.38 percent.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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2008 Anti-Defamation League