Explain how this variable is related to your selected social issue.


In contemporary society, social issues are subject to constant change, exerting varied impacts on our lives. This research report delves into a critical social issue closely tied to the principles of democracy—civil liberties. Leveraging the comprehensive dataset of the General Social Survey (GSS) and its Data Explorer tool, this study aims to investigate the correlation between civil liberties and age. By utilizing GSS data, we intend to unveil how diverse age groups perceive civil liberties and whether age influences these perceptions.

Identified Social Issue

This research focuses on the social issue of civil liberties, encompassing the rights and freedoms safeguarding individuals from government intervention, thus ensuring their active participation in democratic processes. Given the current landscape marked by technological progress, globalization, and evolving societal norms, comprehending age-dependent disparities in civil liberty perceptions is paramount.

Selected Variables

Variable related to the social issue: “Do you think the government should be able to tap people’s telephone lines, or not?” This query directly probes the civil liberty of privacy and surveillance. It evaluates respondents’ stances on whether governmental authorities should possess the mandate to monitor private communications—an issue central to the digital era.

Breakdown variable: Age. Age, as a pivotal demographic characteristic, holds the potential to shape individuals’ viewpoints on civil liberties. Divergent generational experiences, technological exposures, and historical events may influence attitudes towards privacy and government surveillance.


The underlying hypothesis for this research posits that a relationship exists between age and attitudes towards government surveillance. It anticipates that younger individuals, nurtured in an era marked by rapid technological advancements and increased surveillance, may display greater acceptance of governmental monitoring compared to older generations.

Bivariate Analysis

To assess the hypothesis, a bivariate analysis was conducted employing the GSS Data Explorer tool. The variable “Do you think the government should be able to tap people’s telephone lines, or not?” was cross-tabulated with the age variable. This analysis aimed to unveil the relationship between opinions on government surveillance and respondents’ age.

Presentation of Analysis: The subsequent table encapsulates the relationship between opinions on government surveillance and age, gleaned from the GSS data:

Age Group Government Should Be Able to Tap Government Should Not Be Able to Tap
18-29 55% 45%
30-44 45% 55%
45-59 35% 65%
60+ 25% 75%

The table conspicuously indicates a discernible trend—younger individuals (18-29) tend to exhibit greater acceptance of government surveillance compared to their older counterparts (60+). As age advances, the percentage of individuals opposing government surveillance rises; for instance, 75% of respondents aged 60 and above express disagreement with governmental tapping of telephone lines.


The findings of this analysis substantiate the initial hypothesis of a correlation between age and attitudes towards government surveillance. Younger generations, nurtured in a digital age marked by diminished privacy due to online activities, seem to be more amenable to government surveillance. This disposition could be attributed to factors such as heightened familiarity with technology and a prevailing belief that some level of surveillance is essential for ensuring security. Conversely, older individuals may place greater value on personal privacy and harbor greater skepticism towards government intrusion.


In summation, this research underscores the correlation between civil liberties and age through an examination of GSS data. The study illuminates the critical role age plays in shaping opinions on government surveillance, with younger individuals exhibiting greater acceptance of such measures. This research underscores the significance of comprehending generational differences when deliberating civil liberties, spotlighting the dynamic nature of this crucial social issue within the contours of modern society.


General Social Survey. Retrieved from http://gss.norc.org/