Click for Change the Equation Newsletter Sign Up Click for Change the Equation Facebook PageClick for Change the Equation Twitter PageClick for Change the Equation Youtube PageClick for Change the Equation RSS FEED

In a New Survey, Americans say, “We’re Not Good At Math”

On behalf of Change the Equation, Ogilvy PR conducted a survey to gauge Americans’ attitudes toward their math skills.

Calculating the effects of America’s math problem: Many Americans admit that there have been times that they’ve found themselves saying they can’t do math and have had difficulty figuring out the sale discount at a store or calculating the waiter’s tip at a restaurant. In fact, the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that the lack of emphasis on developing good math skills will have a negative impact on the future of our economy.

Americans say “we’re not good at math.”

Three in ten Americans (29%) report that they are not good at math.

  • Women are significantly more likely than men to say that they are not good at math (37% vs. 21%).
  • Younger Americans are the most likely to believe that they are not good at math (18-24 years old, 39%; 25-34 years old, 36%).

Further, over a third of Americans (36%) admit that there have been many times that they’ve found themselves saying they can’t do math.

  • Women are significantly more likely than men to agree with this statement (43% vs. 29%).
  • Younger Americans are the most likely to report that there have been many times that they’ve found themselves saying they can’t do math (18-24 years old, 53%; 25-34 years old, 53%).

In fact, the majority of Americans admit having difficulty when faced with applying math in everyday situations.

Six in ten Americans (63%) report that they’ve had difficulty doing some type of math, including estimating distances or weight (35%), figuring out how much savings they need for retirement (34%), and calculating tax (24%).

One in five Americans admit that they’ve had difficulty managing a household budget (20%), figuring out the sale discount at a store (19%), or calculating the waiter’s tip at a restaurant (18%).

  • Women are significantly more likely than men to report difficulty figuring out the sale discount at a store (23% vs. 16%) and calculating the waiter’s tip at a restaurant ((21% vs. 15%).

Some Americans (14%) report that they’ve had difficulty splitting a bill with friends.

Many Americans report feelings of anxiety and frustration when faced with having to do math.

Nearly a third of Americans (30%) say they would rather clean the bathroom than solve a math problem.

Although some Americans report positive feelings when they have to do math like feeling confident (36%), knowledgeable (34%), at ease (30%) and prepared (20%), one in five Americans report that they typically feel frustrated (21%) or anxious (18%) when they have to do math.

Many Americans also report that when they have to do math, they typically feel inadequate (15%) or worried (13%).

Women are significantly more likely than men to report negative feelings when they have to do math including feeling:

  • Frustrated (26% vs. 16%)
  • Anxious (22% vs. 15%)
  • Inadequate (20% vs. 10%)
  • Worried (15% vs. 11%)

The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that having good math skills is important. 

Nearly all Americans (93%) agree that developing good math skills are essential to being successful in life.

The overwhelming majority of Americans (95%) report that it is just as important for the next generation to be good at math as it was when they were growing up.

Nine in ten Americans (90%) report that the lack of emphasis on developing good math skills will have a negative impact on the future of our economy.

Methodology

An online survey was conducted using the field services of Toluna. The study reached a national sample of 1,000 American adults ages 18 and older. The margin of error for the total sample is ±3.1% at the 95% confidence level.  This means that if we were to replicate the study, we would expect to get the same results (within 3.1 percentage points) 95 times out of 100. 

Recent Tweets