Report

Public Knows Basic Facts About Financial Crisis

  • April 02, 2009

Take the Quiz Before You Read the Report

As part of the Pew Research Center's Knowledge Project, people are invited to test their own news IQ by taking an interactive quiz now available on the Pew Research Center's Web site.  The short quiz includes the same questions that were included in the national poll. Participants will instantly learn how they did on the quiz in comparison with the general public as well as with people like them. To take the quiz, click on this link: http://pewresearch.org/newsiq/

Public Knows Basic Facts About Financial Crisis

The latest Pew Research Center News IQ survey finds the American public reasonably well-informed about a number of basic facts pertaining to the current economic situation. Fully 83% know that the government assistance to banks and other financial institutions is aimed at getting them to lend more money, not less money. Roughly seven-in-ten (71%) correctly identify China as the foreign country holding the most U.S. government debt.

A majority of Americans (58%) know that Timothy Geithner serves as the treasury secretary. And 51% are aware that of the three major U.S. automakers, Ford is the one that has not received emergency loans from the government.

Notably, more Americans know the current unemployment rate than the current level of the Dow Jones Industrial Average: 53% correctly estimated the unemployment rate at about 8% (the rate was 8.1% in February, but is projected to rise to 8.5% in March). That compares with 40% who correctly estimated the level of the Dow average at about 8,000; it ranged from 7,696 to 7,925 during the survey field period. This is slightly lower than awareness of the Dow average in the Pew Research Center's December 2008 News IQ survey, when 45% got this question right.

These are the principal findings of the latest News IQ survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 26-29, in which 1,003 adults were asked a series of 12 multiple choice questions about events and people in the news. Respondents answered an average of 7.4 questions correctly. Seven of the survey questions were related to the economy, and respondents answered an average of four of these seven questions correctly.

Read the full report Public Knows Basic Facts About Financial Crisis on the the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.