The Houston Area Survey has been measuring the attitudes of Houstonians for 29 years. The recently released 2010 report demonstrates that, at least in Houston, the only thing constant is change.
Only 20 percent of respondents (which totaled 750 Harris County residents) said their personal situation had gotten better this year, the lowest rate in the nearly three decades of the survey. Just two years ago, in 2008, the response was double that. This year, 32 percent said things were getting worse, up from 21 percent in '08.
As economic woes rise, enthusiasm for government initiatives is waning. Since 2006, the percentage of respondents who desire “federal health insurance to cover the medical costs of all Americans” has declined from 74 to 52.
Houstonians remain upbeat about one thing, though: Houston. The survey has periodically asked how people would rate “the Houston area in general as a place to live.” The percent saying “excellent” or “good” has grown, according to the survey, "from 63% in 1983 and 75% in 2008, to 82% in 2010.”
Generally, the data indicates a growing acceptance of diversity in the city. Those who see growing ethnic diversity as “a source of great strength for the city,” increased from 60 percent in 2006 to 69 percent in 2010. Support for “homosexuals being legally permitted to adopt children” has jumped from 19 percent in 1991 to 52 percent today. In the last year, of course, Houston famously elected its first openly gay mayor, Annise Parker.
Rice University professors Stephen Klineberg and Michael Emerson oversee the Houston Area Survey, which recently moved into its new home at Rice’s two-month-old Institute for Urban Research. Further highlights from this year’s report are available in the right-hand column of this page.