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Journal of Environmental Management. 1978 Jan; 14(1):35-44.The relationships between leaders' and citizens' income levels, citizens' sex, race, marital status, and employment status and their attitudes toward population growth within a context of regional water quality planning was examined. The relationship between leaders' and citizens' predispositions toward economic growth and environmental protection, and their attitudes toward population growth were also analyzed. The data were drawn from a 1976 survey of western New York State officials and citizens conducted by the Environmental Studies Center at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The survey results were used by officials of a regional, federally funded water quality planning operation as additional public input. The study indicates that a large majority of the public in the Niagara Frontier Region wanted to see the size of the population remain the same. In comparison, the areas leaders were more inclined to prefer increased growth. Sex was not associated with citizens' opinions on population growth, but citizens who were black, or married, or employed, and leaders and citizens with high incomes tended to prefer more economic and population growth. Leaders' and citizens' income levels were related to their predispositions toward growth. The data revealed that respondents who favored more economic growth, even if it means possibly harming the environment, also tended to prefer more population growth. The survey revealed that a large majority of western New York State's residents opposed the power of eminent domain (the right of the government to take away private land for a public purpose). Government must be able to exercise this power, in highway construction for example, so that the entire region can benefit. On this question the wise course would be for officials to ignore public opinion. Due to the local nature of this inquiry, care must be taken not to overgeneralize its findings. Yet, compared to the nationwide survey, there are advantages to a regional approach. If a regional survey project is closely linked to a specific planning operation, it can provide officials with valuable information during a programs' development stage. The data reported here can aid "208" water quality planners in western New York State to develop a population policy strategy that is acceptable to area residents as part of the final plan. From a representation standpoint, approaches like this in conjunction with traditional means of active citizen participation can bring the views of the uninterested but affected public into the planning process.
Trends and patterns in the attitudes of the public toward legal abortion in the United States, 1972-1978.
Research in Nursing and Health. 1985 Sep; 8(3):219-225.The attitudes of the public toward legal abortion in the US were studied for the period 1972-78. Purposes of the study were to: 1) analyze the trends and patterns in attitudes toward legal abortion in that period; 2) assess the possible effect of selected demographic, socioeconomic, religious, and fertility variables on attitudes towards legal abortion; and 3) determine the relationship between attitudes toward abortion and attitudes toward selected related issues such as premarital sex, sex education in public schools, birth control for teens and for anyone who desires it, and woman's role in the home, business, and politics. The independent variables found to have an effect on attitude toward abortion were: age, sex, marital status, geographic region, size of place, education, occupational prestige, women's employment status, religious preference, denomination, strength of religious preference, frequence of attendance at religious services, number of siblings, number of children, number of children expected in the future, and ideal family size. The data were drawn from the General Social Surveys (GSS) conducted by the National Opinion Research Center each year between 1972-78. A total of 10,652 respondents completed the interviews. Attitudes toward abortion were derived from combining the responses to 6 items which required the respondents to indicate whether or not it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion. Using the Guttman scalogram analysis, responses to the abortion items were tested for scalability and were found to scale well. The single largest group of respondents approved for legal abortion for all of the 6 reasons mentioned and the next largest group approved it only for the hard reasons (woman's health, rape, and possible child deformity). Trends in attitudes toward legal abortion were analyzed by percentage distribution. 2 major shifts in trend were noted in the attitudes of the public toward legal abortion in the abovementioned period. In 1973, the percentage of approval rose considerably for each of the 6 reasons. In 1978, the 2nd shift occurred when the percentage of approval declined sharply for all but the reasons of woman's health and rape. Both shifts followed important judicial and congressional decisions made in the US with respect to the abortion issue. Generally speaking, younger, white, never-married respondents, and those who lived in the Pacific, Mid-Atlantic, and New England regions, and in the large central cities were slightly more favorable toward abortion than were their counterparts. Education proved to be the most important socioeconomic variable in explaining the variability of attitude toward abortion. Jews showed the most favorable attitude and Catholics the least favorable attitudes toward abortion. Those who came from small families, or who had small families themselves, or who favored small family size ideal were more favorable toward abortion than those connected to larger families. Significant positive associations were found between attitudes toward premarital sex, sex education in public schools, availability of birth control information for teens, woman's role in the home, business, and politics, and attitudes toward abortion. Variability in attitudes toward abortion among white adults in the US between 1972-78 was best explained by the frequency of attendance at religious services combined with the variables of education, family size ideal, attitude toward available of birth control information to teens, attitude toward sex education in public schools, and attitude toward women's role in the home, business, and politics. (author's modified)