The fortunes of the middle classes across Western Europe are moving in different directions. Some nations are experiencing both growing incomes and expanding middle classes, while other nations are witness to stagnant or declining incomes and shrinking middle classes, a new Pew Research Center analysis of 11 Western European countries has found. But in a few other countries studied, the middle-class shares are decreasing even as incomes overall are rising.
For the analysis – which covers the period from 1991 to 2010 and includes comparisons with changes in the United States – “middle-class” or “middle-income” adults in a country are those who live in households with disposable (after-tax) incomes ranging from two-thirds to double the country’s median disposable household income. Thus, the income it takes to be middle class varies across countries. Also, estimates in the new report will not match those in the Center’s previous reports, which were based on a household’s gross (pretax) income.
Here are seven key findings in the new report:
1Among Western Europe’s six largest economies, the shares of adults living in middle-income households increased in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but they shrank in Germany, Italy and Spain. From 1991 to 2010, the middle-class share in the UK increased from 61% to 67%, but it decreased from 78% to 72% in Germany. Among the 11 Western European countries examined, the expansion in the UK was second only to the increase in Ireland, where the share increased from 60% in 1991 to 69% in 2010. The decrease in Germany was the second largest after Finland, where the middle-class share fell from 82% to 75% over the same period. Overall, the middle-class share of the adult population fell in seven of the 11 Western European countries examined, mirroring the long-term shrinking of the middle class in the U.S. Read More →
Capital punishment is legal in a majority of U.S. states, including in two states – California and Nebraska – where voters decided to retain it in the 2016 election. Nationally, however, public support for the death penalty has fallen in recent years, as has the number of executions.
The death penalty has been back in the news recently as Arkansas carried out its first execution since 2005 – one of eight inmates the state originally planned to put to death over the course of 11 days this month. Courts have since intervened and temporarily halted some of the executions.
As the debate over the death penalty continues in the U.S. and worldwide, here are five facts about the issue:
1The annual number of U.S. executions peaked at 98 in 1999 and has fallen sharply in the years since. In 2016, 20 inmates were executed, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. That’s the lowest annual total since 1991, when 14 people were executed. Just five states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and Texas – accounted for all executions in 2016, compared with 20 states in 1999.
Category: 5 Facts
When Pew Research Center surveyed 14 advanced economies in the spring of 2016, one thing was clear: In each of the countries surveyed, nearly all people reported owning a mobile phone. But the shares who own a smartphone vary considerably.
Among the countries surveyed, people in Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and Australia reported the highest smartphone ownership rates, at roughly eight-in-ten in each country. Nearly as many Americans (77%) said they owned a smartphone, a number that more than doubled since 2011. (A smartphone is defined as a mobile phone that can access the internet or use an app, examples being an iPhone, Android-enabled device or Windows phone. For complete list of examples, see appendix.)
Rates of smartphone ownership were considerably lower in some of the other countries surveyed. About half in Poland (52%) owned a smartphone, though that figure is up significantly since the question was first asked in 2013, when only 21% reported owning a smartphone. And while pluralities in 13 of the 14 countries surveyed reported owning a smartphone, regular mobile devices are still fairly common in Greece (43%), Hungary (41%), and Poland and Japan (both 37%).
The first round of the French presidential election, which takes place this Sunday, will be the next big test of whether the kind of populist wave that swept Donald Trump into the White House and carried Britain out of the European Union can maintain its momentum. Five major candidates are competing to qualify for the May 7 second round, which will feature Sunday’s top two performers.
Current polls show a tight race, but most observers believe one of the two runoff candidates will be Marine Le Pen from the populist, far-right National Front. Led for many years by Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front has a history of anti-Semitism and xenophobia, although the younger Le Pen has tried to soften its image somewhat in recent years, even expelling her father from the party for his extreme statements.
In a 2016 Pew Research Center survey only about a quarter of French citizens (23%) expressed a favorable opinion of the National Front. The same poll provided insights into who favored the National Front and where they stood on key issues such as France’s Muslim community, globalization and the European Union.
1Support for the National Front is somewhat stronger among men, the less educated, and Catholics – though even among these groups, support is limited. In 2016, support stood at 28% among men, 26% among those with no college degree and 27% among self-identified Roman Catholics.
The 1970s were an important era for American environmentalism. Congress passed the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, President Richard Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency, and the nation observed its first Earth Day – created by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson – on April 22, 1970.
Nearly a half century later, Earth Day has expanded across the globe, with dozens of countries holding events, ranging from river clean-ups to rallies addressing climate change. Ahead of this year’s events, here are six findings about the public’s views about the environment:
1Overall, Americans support protecting the environment, but there are deep partisan divides on the issue. In a Pew Research Center survey conducted last year, about three-quarters of U.S. adults (74%) said “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment,” compared with 23% who said “the country has gone too far in its efforts to protect the environment.”
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have consistently been more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to say the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment. But as Republican support has decreased since 2004, the gap between the two groups has widened to 38 percentage points. Read More →
Category: 5 Facts
Nearly four-in-ten Democrats (39%) name Russia as the country that represents the greatest danger to the United States – the highest percentage expressing this view in nearly three decades, according to a new survey.
Compared with 2013, the last time this question was asked, greater shares in both parties volunteer Russia as posing the greatest danger to the U.S. – but nearly twice as many Democrats as Republicans now say this (39% vs. 21%).
The new Pew Research Center survey of 1,501 adults was conducted April 5-11, before the recent rise in tensions with North Korea, its failed missile test and Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to South Korea.
Overall, 31% of Americans, answering an open-ended question, cite Russia as the country representing the greatest danger to the U.S., while 22% point to North Korea. The shares naming both countries are among their highest dating back to 1990.
Fewer cite China (13%), Iran (9%), Syria (6%) and Iraq (5%) as countries representing the greatest danger to the U.S. Read More →
Federal officials are considering major changes in how they ask Americans about their race and ethnicity, with the goal of producing more accurate and reliable data in the 2020 census and beyond. Recently released Census Bureau research underscores an important reason why: Many Hispanics, who are the nation’s largest minority group, do not identify with the current racial categories.
Census officials say this is a problem because in order to obtain good data, they need to make sure people can match themselves to the choices they are offered. Census data on race and Hispanic origin are used to redraw congressional district boundaries and enforce voting and other civil rights laws, as well as in a wide variety of research, including Pew Research Center studies.
After years of trying to persuade Hispanics to choose a standard race category, the Census Bureau has been testing a new approach, with what the agency says are promising results. In 2015, the bureau contacted 1.2 million U.S. households for a test census that experimented with two different ways of combining the Hispanic and race questions into one question (and included a proposed new “Middle Eastern or North African” category as well). Respondents could self-identify in as many categories as they wanted, or only one.
Despite the seeming ubiquity of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, many in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Australia and Japan do not report regularly visiting social media sites. But majorities in all of the 14 countries surveyed say they at least use the internet.
Social media use is relatively common among people in Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia and the U.S. Around seven-in-ten report using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, but that still leaves a significant minority of the population in those countries (around 30%) who are non-users.
At the other end of the spectrum, in France, only 48% say they use social networking sites. That figure is even lower in Greece (46%), Japan (43%) and Germany (37%). In Germany, this means that more than half of internet users say they do not use social media. Read More →
Millennial workers, those ages 18 to 35, are just as likely to stick with their employers as their older counterparts in Generation X were when they were young adults, according to recently released government data.
And among the college-educated, Millennials have longer track records with their employers than Generation X workers did in 2000 when they were the same age as today’s Millennials.
Every two years the U.S. Department of Labor collects data on how long workers have been with their current employer as part of the Current Population Survey. Though the data have been collected periodically since the early 1950s, the present tenure questions began in 1996, so we can only compare Millennial workers with Gen X workers when they were the same age.
In January 2016, 63.4% of employed Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1998, reported that they had worked for their current employer at least 13 months. In February 2000, somewhat fewer 18- to 35-year-olds (59.9%) – most of whom are today’s Gen Xers – reported similar job tenure. Looking at young workers with longer tenures, 22% of Millennial workers had been with their employer for at least five years as of 2016, similar to the share of Gen X workers (21.8%) in 2000. Read More →
If demography is destiny, then Christianity’s future lies in Africa. By 2060, a plurality of Christians – more than four-in-ten – will call sub-Saharan Africa home, up from 26% in 2015, according to a new analysis of demographic data by Pew Research Center. At the same time, the share of Christians living in many other regions – notably Europe – is projected to decline.
This shift in the regional concentration of the global Christian population is being driven by a combination of demographic factors, including fertility, age and migration, as well as religious switching into and out of Christianity. In sub-Saharan Africa, Christians, on average, are relatively young and have more children than their coreligionists elsewhere, contributing to the projected rapid population growth in the decades ahead.
By contrast, European Christians are much older and have fewer children. In addition, large numbers of Europeans who were born Christian are leaving the faith to join the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated. As a result, the share of all Christians living in Europe is expected to decline from nearly a quarter in 2015 to just 14% by 2060. Religious switching out of Christianity also is projected to drive down the share of the global Christian population in North America (12% in 2015 to 9% in 2060). Read More →