2023 Kinder Houston Area Survey released by Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research

Rice University's Kinder Institute has released its 42nd annual Houston Area Survey, and a turbulent economy and rising costs are the dominant concerns that are leaving people anxious about how the coming years will evolve. The survey, which is the nation’s longest-running metropolitan study of its kind, provides an important snapshot of how people's attitudes are evolving on a long list of topics, in the city. 

Started in the oil-boom days of the early 1980s, it has become a tool to chart evolving social dynamics and concerns of those who call Houston home. This year's results show some definitive points of view, on several topics.


Only about 1 in 4 survey respondents feel their financial situation has improved in the past three years, and only about half believe their finances will change for the better in the years to come — down from 60% in previous surveys. 

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As people wrestle with continued economic challenges, more than ever, 72%, believe the government should do more to narrow economic inequalities. On the issue of immigration, opinions reinforce Houston's distinction of being among the most diverse cities in the country. 

 In a community where one in four residents are foreign-born, 72% of respondents say immigrants contribute more to the economy than they take; 70% say immigrants strengthen American culture; 80% support policies that support a pathway to citizenship.

The topic of gun ownership finds Houstonians strongly support the right to own a gun — but with limits.


Approximately 76% of respondents say it's "very important" or "somewhat important" to protect Second Amendment rights. However, more than 81% favor federal laws that would require all handguns to be registered, and 93% support universal background checks regardless of where firearms are purchased. 

Finally, there are evolving ideas about where Houstonians want to live. Approximately 60% say they prefer mixed-use developments in walkable neighborhoods instead of single-family homes in residential areas. That number has grown from a nearly 50-50 split over the past 15 years. 

Support for funding public transportation is growing. Since the topic was first introduced in 2007, a near-even split of support for spending tax dollars on bus and light rail, versus expanded highways, the tide has turned to nearly 60% supporting public transportation. 

This is the first Houston Area Survey to be conducted since the retirement of founding sociologist Dr. Stephen Klineberg, the Kinder Institute says coming surveys will double the number of respondents to develop neighborhood-specific findings and expand into Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.