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Survey shows U.S. generation gap wide in politics
Last Updated: 2018-03-02 15:40 | Xinhua
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Generational divisions are now as wide as they have been in decades in the United States, with the potential to shape the country's politics well into the future, said a Pew survey Thursday.

From immigration and ethnicity to foreign policy and the scope of government, two younger generations, Millennials and Gen Xers, stand apart from the two older cohorts, Baby Boomers and Silents, according to the survey released by Washington-based think tank Pew Research Center.

The report defines the Millennial generation as adults aged from 22 to 37 years old, Gen Xers aged 38 to 53, Boomers from 54 to 72, and Silents 73 to 90. Those born in 1997 and later are considered part of a separate generational cohort, which has not named yet.

First-year job approval ratings for U.S. President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, differ markedly across generations. By contrast, there were only slight differences in views of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton during their respective first years in office.

According to the poll, just 27 percent of U.S. Millennials approve of Trump's first-year job performance, while 65 percent disapprove. While among Gen Xers, 36 percent approve and 57 percent disapprove.

In contrast, both Boomers (44 percent approve) and Silents (46 percent approve) express more positive views of Trump's job performance than Gen Xers or Millennials.

Increased ethnic diversity of younger generational cohorts accounts for some of these generational differences in views of the two recent presidents, said Pew analysts.

According to the survey, Millennials, of whom more than 40 percent are non-white, are the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation in the U.S. history. By contrast, Silents and older adults are 79 percent white.

The younger generations in the United States, particularly Millennials, express more liberal views on many issues and have stronger Democratic leanings than do their older cohorts, said the survey, noting that Millennials have been and remain most supportive of same-sex marriage.

Moreover, in the case of views of racial discrimination, divisions among generations have grown in the past few years.

Among the public overall, non-whites are more likely than whites to say that racial discrimination is the main factor holding back African Americans. Yet more white Millennials than older whites express this view. Half of white Millennials say racial discrimination is the main reason many blacks are unable to get ahead, which is 15 percentage points more than any older generation of whites.

Since 2015, there have been double-digit increases in the share of each generation saying that immigrants strengthened the United States. Yet a large majorities of Millennials (79 percent), Gen Xers (66 percent) and Boomers (56 percent) say that immigrants do more to strengthen than to burden the country, only about half of Silents (47 percent) agree with this.

When it comes to opinions about America's relative standing the world, Millennials are least likely to say the United States is among the world's greatest countries (only 18 percent), compared with 46 percent of Silents who think the country "stands above" all others.

The report examined the attitudes and political values of four living adult generations in the United States, based on data compiled in 2017 and 2018.

However, generational cutoff points are not an exact science and should be viewed primarily as tools, said Pew analysts.

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