Sienna College Poll: 41% of New Yorkers Say Quality of Life Has Declined


Forty-one percent of New Yorkers say that the overall quality of life for most people they know has gotten worse over the last ten years, while 39 percent say things have stayed about the same and only 19 percent believe things have gotten better, according to a new poll released today by the Siena College Research Institute.
Looking forward, 30 percent predict that the quality of life will improve over the next ten years, while 32 percent expect things to remain unchanged and 35 percent expect the quality of life to worsen.
On thirteen issues in areas including technology, infrastructure, health care, education, tolerance, taxes and economic opportunity, a majority of New Yorkers believe the state has made at least some improvement in eight while five, including developing mass transportation, access to health care, providing economic opportunity, enhancing businesses and controlling taxes have seen very little or no improvement.
When asked about the same issues looking forward, New Yorkers expect the greatest progress in making technologies like broadband or wireless internet and cell phone service available throughout the state (47% substantial, 35% some).
A majority expect to see at least some progress over the next ten years in providing clean and affordable water, protecting the natural environment, developing mass transportation, promoting tolerance, reducing the threat of crime, ensuring the rights of minorities, providing high quality public education and enhancing business prosperity.
But, a majority continues to expect conditions to remain the same or worsen in the areas of making sure residents have access to affordable and high quality health care, taking care of the poor, providing economic opportunity to all citizens and making sure New York taxes are affordable.
“While New Yorkers see improvement in some areas that contribute to life’s quality, like internet access, clean water, ensuring the rights of others and reducing crime, overall more people say that their life and that of their friends, family and acquaintances has worsened over the last ten years than say it has improved,” according to Dr. Don Levy, SRI’s Director.
“Despite a majority expecting at least some improvement in many areas only about three of every ten New Yorkers, more in New York City and fewer in the suburbs or especially upstate, predict the quality of life for most people they know will improve when we reach the winter of 2021. Twenty percent of all New Yorkers say that things have, over the last ten years, worsened and they continue to expect more decline. Only eight percent put a happy face on the last decade and expect the next ten years to be even better,” Levy noted.
“Looking forward, the only area in which New Yorkers expect substantial progress to occur is in technology. In most areas no more than seventeen percent anticipate substantial progress while about four in ten expect some progress. Most worrisome are education where twenty–six percent predict decline, taking care of the poor (24%), providing economic opportunity (24%) and tax affordability where forty percent expect the state to move backwards a little bit or a great deal,” Levy said.
New York City residents offer a better appraisal of the impact of the last ten years on the quality of life with 27 percent saying it has improved and only 33 percent saying quality has worsened. Suburbanites cite improvement at a rate of 14 percent while 46 percent said the quality of life had worsened. Upstaters are slightly less positive with only 11 percent saying life’s quality had improved while 49 percent say things have worsened. All three areas are more optimistic looking forward but New York City residents are more optimistic than either Suburban or Upstate respondents.
“While New Yorkers note improvement in many areas over the last decade, the overall sense, given that only thirty percent predict an enhanced quality of life and scant majorities expect some progress in many issues that go a long way in determining life’s quality, is that most state residents are more likely to say things will probably remain the same or to slip a bit, than to trumpet improvement. Fortunately, with the exception of taxes, only about a quarter of New Yorkers are braced to see decline in many of the social and cultural issues that impact us all,” summarized Dr. Levy.
The SRI special survey of New York Quality of Life was conducted February 14-17, and 21-22 by random telephone calls to 800 residents of New York State over the age of 18 via both landline and cell phones. Data was statistically adjusted by age, region and gender to ensure representativeness. SRI reports this data at a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of + 3.5 points for the overall sample. Sampling was conducted via random digit dialing weighted to reflect known population patterns. SRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. For more information or comments, please call Dr. Don Levy, Director Siena College Research Institute, at 518-783-2901. Survey cross-tabulations and frequencies can be found at

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