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Discrimination is Alive and Well and Living in America

Majorities see Black, Middle Eastern, LGBT and Female Americans each as being discriminated against in at least one aspect of American life; half say the same about Hispanic Americans

NEW YORK, Feb. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- 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.

Harris Poll Logo.

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. (Full results, including data tables, available here)

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.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here!

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


Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
The Harris Poll
[email protected]


SOURCE The Harris Poll

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