Kinder Institute Survey suggests Houstonians are optimistic

'Optimism' and 'compassion' are among the hallmarks of a new survey measuring Houstonians' thoughts on a variety of topics. The Kinder Houston Area Survey provides a snapshot of how concerns evolve year to year, and this year's report suggests respondents are very interested in making the community a better place.    

The survey was collected before just before the COVID-19 pandemic and shows a city very different from the first survey, in 1982, thanks to an evolution of economic and ethnic diversity.

"We're different folk, today," says survey director Dr. Stephen Klineberg, "We have different understandings of the world; there are things that we can do politically, together, that would not have been possible 5 or 10 years ago."

That's not to say there isn't work to do.        

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The survey shows a growing number of people want government intervention to address financial inequality, health insurance for all, and programs to ensure work for anyone who wants a job.

"It's growing recognition that government has a role to play, that is critical: Growing recognition that people are poorer, very often, because of conditions that are beyond their control," says Klineberg.

Not surprisingly, respondents also want solutions to Houston's congested traffic, along with the growing number of flood events that damage life and property.

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Researchers were also interested to see a change in sentiment over how we educate our kids. 10 years ago, people thought we were spending plenty of money. Now, they say we need to spend more to properly prepare students. Klineberg thinks it's an important investment.

"We are in a new world, now, where education is critical and where, if we have too many kids coming out of high school, unprepared to do the jobs of the 21st century: that does not bode well for the economic future of the region and city, and people understand that," he says.

While this year's survey was taken before the pandemic interrupted much of our lives, Dr. Klineberg believes the next report will offer a unique chance to see how 'committed' people are to the ideas they embraced this time around.