Gallup: Y2K? What me worry? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I'm sorry if this link has been posted already. The largest Y2K article I've seen so far in the Danish press appeared today in the Business section of 'Berlingske Tidende' (main Copenhagen newspaper). The crux of the article was that Danes weren't very worried about Y2K, although people in some other countries were more worried. Yet again, there was no discussion about what, if anything, might be the possible problems.


-- Risteard Mac Thomais (, December 09, 1999


The public last month was much less concerned about Y2K than in December 1998. A panic in December seems to be less likely at this point...



December 8, 1999

Public Considers Major Y2K Computer Failures Unlikely

by Lydia Saad


PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans show as little concern today as they did three months ago about the potential that major computer-related failures will disrupt society this New Year. According to the latest Gallup Y2K tracking study, conducted in partnership with USA Today and the National Science Foundation, only a handful of Americans currently believe the Y2K computer programming issue will result in major problems for society or cause themselves more than a minor inconvenience. These findings are nearly identical to those measured in August. At the same time, public awareness continues to grow regarding Y2K or the so-called "Millennium Bug," which could cause computer systems around the world to misinterpret the date come January 1, 2000.

Gallup has been tracking public attention to the Y2K issue since last December in a series of polls sponsored by USA Today and the National Science Foundation. The latest update, conducted November 18- 21, indicates that after a year of steady decline, public concern about the scope of potential computer-generated problems has now leveled off at low levels. Today, just 12% believe computer mistakes due to the Y2K issue will cause major problems. This is similar to the 11% recorded in August, but down from 21% in March and 34% in December 1998. Similarly, only 3% now believe they will suffer major problems personally, down from 14% last year.

In addition to this drop in expectations about the severity of Y2K problems, Americans are much more optimistic today than a year ago that the problems will be short-lived. Three out of four Americans, 73%, now say that to the extent Y2K problems occur, they will only last for a few days or weeks after January 1, 2000; just 24% believe the problems will extend for several months to a year. By contrast, last December only 45% expected the problems to be short term, while 49% thought they would last longer.

Consumer Banking Fears Have Calmed

When Americans are asked directly about the likelihood of some specific Y2K-related events, Gallup's Y2K series has consistently found the public to be more concerned about possible banking failures than any of several other potential problems tested. However, the level of this concern has fallen sharply over the past year. In December 1998, 63% thought such banking failures were likely, compared to just 38% today -- a 25-point drop.

At the same time, the public's expectations for failures in other services and security systems has fallen by four to 12 points over the past year. This includes air traffic control systems, for which 34% now think failures are likely, compared to 46% last year. The other items measured and the percentage who currently think failures in each area likely are: 32% for food and retail distribution systems, 28% for emergency 911 systems, 22% for hospital equipment and services, 19% for nuclear power and defense, and just 13% for passenger cars.

While general concern about Y2K is dropping, the percentage of Americans who appear to be informed about the issue continues to grow. The percentage hearing "a great deal" about the Y2K issue has grown steadily over the past year, from 39% in December 1998, 56% in March 1999, and 64% in August, to 70% today. Another 20% have heard "some," 6% have heard "not much" and only 4% "nothing at all."

Less than Half the Public will Prepare for Y2K Errors

The percentages of individuals who seem serious about taking steps to protect themselves from possible computer disruptions have also held steady in recent polls. When asked in an open-ended question to name any precautionary plans they may have, roughly one quarter of Americans, 23%, currently say they will stockpile extra food -- the most frequently mentioned activity. This is essentially unchanged from the 21% in August, and 22% in March, who told Gallup that they planned to store extra food. Stocking up on water ranks second, mentioned by 18% of the public, followed by withdrawing extra cash and stockpiling household supplies, each mentioned by 10%. A handful of Americans say they will take more extreme steps, including the following:

* 7% will monitor their financial records more closely; * 6% will purchase a generator or heater; and * 3% will stock up on gasoline.

When asked in this open-ended format, 45% of Americans name at least one precautionary step they intend to take, while the remaining 55% appear to have no plans in mind. However, when prompted with seven specific possible precautions (asked of a separate half-sample of respondents in the same survey), the percentage indicating they will take various precautions tends to be much higher. Fifty-eight percent say they will obtain special bank confirmation of their accounts, 40% will stockpile food and water, 28% will store extra gasoline, 25% will withdraw a large amount of cash, 13% will buy a generator or wood stove, and 8% will withdraw all their money from bank accounts. However, as January 1 draws nearer, the open-ended measure is more likely to be the most accurate predictor of consumer behavior.

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,010 national adults, 18 years and older, conducted November 18-21, 1999. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.


The specific questions asked as well as the complete results (not just this summary) can be found at the link.

-- Linkmeister (, December 09, 1999.

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