4 American Values That Are a Lot More Important These Days

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The world has changed in many ways over the past two decades — and so have the attitudes and priorities of many Americans.

Recently, Gallup asked 1,013 adults to describe the things in their lives that are “extremely important” or “very important” to them. The polling firm then compared the responses to answers people gave 20 years ago.

In the process, Gallup found some surprising shifts in the priorities of folks over the past two decades.

Following are a few values that Americans say are more important to them now than they were circa 2002.

Their community activities

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Respondents who said this is “extremely” or “very” important in their life:

  • In 2023: 55% (an increase of 23 percentage points)
  • In 2001-2002: 32%

Today’s middle-aged adults are especially more likely to report that community activities were important to them than their middle-aged counterparts did 20 years ago.

The increase in valuing community activities was equally true for both men and women, and for people of all political persuasions.

Their hobbies or recreational activities

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Respondents who said this is “extremely” or “very” important in their life:

  • In 2023: 61% (an increase of 13 percentage points)
  • In 2001-2002: 48%

Younger adults — those 18 to 34 — are more likely to say hobbies and recreational activities are important to them than young people did two decades ago.

Not only are hobbies fun, but they might boost your health, as we reported in “10 Hobbies That Can Help You Live Longer.”

Their money

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Respondents who said this is “extremely” or “very” important in their life:

  • In 2023: 79% (an increase of 12 percentage points)
  • In 2001-2002: 67%

Money has always been important, but that is truer today than ever before. Gallup reports that in 2023, virtually all major demographic groups are more likely to say money is important to them than folks did in years past.

If cash is king in your household, don’t overlook the “7 Obvious Money-Saving Tips People Often Forget.”

Their work

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Respondents who said this is “extremely” or “very” important in their life:

  • In 2023: 83% (an increase of 9 percentage points)
  • In 2001-2002: 74%

Americans have a reputation for being hard-working and ambitious, and that holds true today. Today’s middle-aged workers are especially likely to place great importance on their job or career.

How other values have changed

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Here are some additional areas where people say their values have changed — or not changed at all, in one case:

  • Their friends: 78% of respondents said this is “extremely” or “very” important in their life in 2023 (an increase of 4 percentage points since 2001-2002)
  • Their health: 92% (an increase of 2 percentage points)
  • Their family: 96% (no change)
  • Their religion: 58% (a decrease of 7 percentage points)

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