May 29, 2015 11:59 am

What Americans think about NSA surveillance, national security and privacy

A key section of the USA Patriot Act, enacted in response to the 9/11 attacks 14 years ago, is scheduled to expire this weekend amid a debate in Congress over how best to balance the national security and privacy interests of Americans.

Overall, Americans hold nuanced views on the issue: A majority is against the government collecting bulk data on its citizens, and most believe there are not adequate limits on the types of data collected. But Americans do generally support monitoring the communications activity of suspected terrorists. Read More

Topics: National Security, Online Privacy and Safety, Surveillance

May 28, 2015 3:30 pm

5 facts about the death penalty

Where the Death Penalty Has Been Abolished in the U.S.

Nebraska this week became the 19th state to ban the death penalty – a practice that a majority of Americans still support, but in declining numbers. Earlier this month, a federal jury sentenced one of the Boston Marathon bombers to death, despite a poll showing that the local public favored life imprisonment instead. And by the end of its term, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide a case involving whether Oklahoma’s lethal injection methods amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

Although there have been fewer executions in recent years than there were in the 1990s, 31 states still have the death penalty on their books, as does the federal government. Here are five facts about the issue:

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Criminal Justice, Death Penalty

May 28, 2015 7:00 am

What we know about Cuba’s economy

Two-thirds of Americans favor an end to the decades-long U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, a January Pew Research Center study found, and the two nations reportedly are making progress on re-establishing diplomatic relations. As the communist government continues to slowly reform Cuba’s economy, American businesses – from airlines to law firms – are exploring commercial opportunities on the island nation. But even if the embargo were to be lifted, it’s not clear just what sort of Cuban economy those businesses would find. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Globalization and Trade, Latin America, World Economies

May 27, 2015 11:29 am

Q&A: A look at what’s driving the changes seen in our Religious Landscape Study

David Campbell, University of Notre Dame
David Campbell, director, Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy, University of Notre Dame

Based on more than 35,000 interviews, the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study presented a detailed portrait of an America where changes in religious affiliation have affected all regions of the country and many demographic groups.

The survey’s findings raise questions about why these changes are occurring.

Fact Tank sat down with David Campbell, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, to explore what the new findings mean. Campbell is the author of a number of books on religion, including (along with Robert Putnam) “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us.”

For you, what stands out as the most important new finding or findings in the Religious Landscape Study? Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Jews and Judaism, Millennials, Mormons and Mormonism, Muslim Americans, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religiously Unaffiliated, Research Methodology

May 26, 2015 1:34 pm

5 facts about Latinos and education

Educational attainment among U.S. Latinos has been changing rapidly in recent years, reflecting the group’s growth in the nation’s public K-12 schools and colleges. Over the past decade, the Hispanic high school dropout rate has declined and college enrollment has increased, even as Hispanics trail other groups in earning a bachelor’s degree.

High School Dropout Rate, By RaceHispanics cited education as a top issue in 2014, ranking alongside the economy and above health care and immigration in importance, a Pew Research Center survey found.

Economic factors remain an obstacle for enrollment, however. In a 2014 National Journal poll, 66% of Hispanics who got a job or entered the military directly after high school cited the need to help support their family as a reason for not enrolling in college, compared with 39% of whites.

Here are five facts about Latinos and education: Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Education, Educational Attainment, Race and Ethnicity, School Enrollment

May 26, 2015 7:00 am

Lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans differ from general public in their religious affiliations

Although many lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults feel that most major faiths are unwelcoming to their community, a majority of LGB adults are religiously affiliated, according to a new Pew Research Center study. But they are much less likely to be Christian than the general public and are more drawn to smaller, non-Christian denominations.

About 5% of the 2014 Religious Landscape Study’s 35,000-plus respondents identified themselves as members of the LGB population. Of that group, 59% said they are religiously affiliated. But only 48% of them reported belonging to a Christian faith group, compared with 71% of the general public.

Religious Composition by Self-Reported Sexual Identity

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Topics: Christians and Christianity, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation

May 22, 2015 3:00 pm

Memorial Day: About half of veterans of post-9/11 wars served with someone who was killed

Veteran Salutes Flag During Parade
Retired Army 1st Sgt. William Staude, of Elliott, Pa., salutes the U.S. flag being carried by soldiers from the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command. Credit: The U.S. Army

The practice of dedicating a day to honoring America’s war dead has its roots in the years immediately after the Civil War — though it wasn’t until 1971 that Memorial Day was officially declared a national holiday by Congress to honor the fallen of all wars.

47% of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans served with someone who was killed during their serviceThe day will be an intensely personal experience for many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts — about half (47%) said that they served with a comrade that had been killed, according to a Pew Research Center survey of veterans conducted in 2011. That number rises to 62% among soldiers who were in combat.

Service members who were seriously wounded or knew someone who was killed or seriously wound were more likely to say the wars were worth fighting. In the case of Iraq, 48% of these veterans said the war was worth fighting compared with 36% among those not exposed to casualties. For Afghanistan, the margin saying the war was worth fighting was higher — 55% to 40%.  Read More

Topics: Military and Veterans, Wars and International Conflicts

May 22, 2015 10:26 am

The declining value of U.S. newspapers

Over the past two decades, major newspapers across the country have seen a recurring cycle of ownership changes and steep declines in value.

The San Diego Union-Tribune was the latest example of this, as it officially changed ownership hands Thursday for the third time in six years. This most recent purchase came from Tribune Publishing Co. for the amount of $85 million (including nine community papers). Still waiting for a buyer is the 96-year-old New York tabloid the Daily News, which owner Mort Zuckerman put on the sale block this spring. But there seems to be far from a stampede of interested buyers. Read More

Topics: Newspapers, Newsroom Investment and Resources, State of the News Media

May 22, 2015 7:00 am

Mormons more likely to marry, have more children than other U.S. religious groups

Mormons More Likely to Be Married Than Members of Most Other Faiths

The share of Americans who identify as Mormons has roughly held steady even as the percentage of Christians in the U.S. has declined dramatically in recent years, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study. And the study found Mormons stand out in other ways: They have higher fertility rates and are far more likely than members of most other major religious traditions to be married – especially to other Mormons.

Mormons made up 1.6% of the American adult population in 2014, little changed from 2007 (1.7%), the last time a similar survey was conducted. By contrast, the percentage of Christians in the U.S. has dropped from 78.4% to 70.6% during the same time period.

Two-thirds (66%) of U.S. Mormon adults are currently married, down slightly from 71% in 2007 – but still high compared with current rates among Christians overall (52%) and U.S. adults overall (48%). (Marriage rates are lower across the board than they were several years ago.)  Read More

Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, Marriage and Divorce, Mormons and Mormonism

May 21, 2015 2:36 pm

For Fact Tank’s anniversary, a look back at the news in the numbers

Much of Pew Research Center’s work focuses on public opinion, in the United States and around the world. But we also track economic and demographic data to see how society is changing. When we launched Fact Tank two years ago, the goal was to expand on the center’s data storytelling by bringing context to the day’s major news events and policy discussions.

To celebrate Fact Tank’s anniversary, here’s a roundup of our most-visited blog posts over the past year, along with some insights into the editorial thinking behind them:
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Topics: Generations and Age, Immigration Trends, Marriage and Divorce, Political Attitudes and Values, Taxes, Violence and Society