Which industries do Americans think should be more regulated?

Taylor OrthSenior Survey Data Journalist
March 06, 2023, 9:28 PM GMT+0

New polling by YouGov explores American opinion on government regulation of major industries in the United States. The results show that large shares of Americans believe that more regulation is needed in many industries; fewer than one in five, on average, believe each of the 44 industries asked about should be regulated less than they are now.

Pharmaceuticals, artificial intelligence, and social media top the list of industries Americans believe should be more regulated. Cannabis is the most divisive industry polled, with roughly equal shares saying it should be more and less regulated. But for cannabis, and for each of the other 43 industries polled about, more Americans say they want to see more regulation than say they want less.

Here are additional findings by industry groups: 

  • Health: Three industries that are health-related are among the ones that Americans are most likely to say should be more regulated: the pharmaceutical industry (64% support much or somewhat more regulation), the health insurance industry (53%), and the broader health care industry (52%). 

  • Technology: Half of Americans (49%) think the technology industry should be more regulated, and at least as many support increased regulation of the artificial intelligence (57%), social media (57%), and internet services (50%). 

  • Firearms: The firearms industry is particularly controversial: It tops the list of industries that Americans say should be “be much more regulated,” but also ranks second among industries that Americans say should “be much less regulated.”

  • Vices: Many favor greater regulation of vice-related industries, such as pornography (53%), tobacco (49%), and gambling (47%); somewhat fewer — 36% — favor more regulation of the alcohol industry. On cannabis, Americans are split: While 39% want more regulation, 34% want less — making it the industry that people are most likely to want to see deregulated. 

  • Natural resources: Roughly half of people prefer more regulation of oil and gas (53%) and mining and natural resources (49%). 

  • Media: Around half of Americans want more oversight of the news media (50%) and telecommunications industries (47%); somewhat fewer desire more oversight of advertising (42%) or entertainment (35%).

  • Transportation: Most Americans want expanded government oversight of airlines (52%) — far more than favor increasing regulation of the other transportation-related industries polled: automotive (39%), trucking (34%), and railroads (33%).

  • Food: Compared to other industries, relatively few favor more rules for industries involved in food production and distribution, including: agriculture (34%), restaurants (34%), grocery (35%), dairy (37%), and food and beverage (39%). 

  • Appearance: The beauty (35%), fashion (26%), and textiles (25%) industries also rank toward the top of the list of industries the fewest Americans want to be more regulated. Just 21% want more regulation of the retail industry.

Support for regulation among Democrats and Republicans

Democrats are, on average, more likely than Republicans to support increasing regulation over specific industries. In particular, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to favor regulating the firearms industry (+44 percentage point difference), the mining and natural resources industry (+41), and the oil and gas industry (+38). They also are more likely to favor greater oversight of logistics and supply chain (+31), manufacturing (+31), and trucking (+29). There are just three industries that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to favor regulating: cannabis (-13), pornography (-12), and entertainment (-8).

Related: Americans' most and least favored industries

 — Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: The poll was conducted among 2,000 U.S. adult citizens on two separate surveys conducted from February 3 - 6, 2023 and February 8 - 10, 2023, with each survey conducted among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were asked about a randomly selected sample of 20 of the 44 industries on each poll. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error is approximately 4%.

Image: Getty (Andriy Onufriyenko)