Nov 21, 2018 7:00 am

When it comes to food ingredients, health-oriented eaters have a list they avoid

The United States is a nation divided when it comes to food. About half of U.S. adults (49%) are “health-oriented eaters” who say that they choose foods all or more than half the time because they are healthy and nutritious. The other half (51%) are less focused on healthy foods, saying they select foods because of their health and nutritional value about half the time or less, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

Health-oriented eaters are more likely to opt out of these food ingredientsAmericans’ food preferences are especially evident in what they don’t eat. When asked how frequently they limit consumption of foods (based on a list of 10 items), those who choose foods because they are healthy and nutritious ruled out, on average, 3.5 ingredients. By contrast, people less health-oriented in their eating restrict an average of only 1.8 of these ingredients from their diets.

About half of health-conscious eaters say they limit their intake of artificial sweeteners (53%), compared with 36% of the less health-oriented. Similarly, health-oriented eaters are more likely than their less health-conscious counterparts to limit consumption of sugar (51% vs. 26%), artificial preservatives (47% vs. 20%) and a host of other ingredients that includes artificial coloring, dairy and gluten.

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Topics: Health, Science and Innovation, Lifestyle

Nov 20, 2018 3:03 pm

Most say their family is OK with discussing politics – but it helps if the family agrees

(Evy Mages for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Most say their family is OK with talking politics, but 40% try to avoid the subjectAs Americans prepare for Thanksgiving, most U.S. adults (59%) say their family is OK with talking about politics, while 40% say they try to avoid the subject. But the willingness of families to engage in political talk is tied to their level of political agreement, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Nov. 7-13, 2018.

Overall, a majority of Americans say they have at least some common ground politically with their family. A 64% majority of Americans say most or all of their family members share their political views – yet relatively few people (22%) say “almost everyone” in their family shares their political views. About a third overall say “a few” family members (26%) or “almost no one” in their family (9%) shares their political views. (In this survey, respondents were asked about occasions when they get together with family members other than those they live with.)

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Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Family and Relationships

Nov 20, 2018 10:03 am

Americans who find meaning in these four areas have higher life satisfaction

Discovering where people find meaning in life is a challenging task. One way is to give them an opportunity to write, in their own words, about the things that give them a sense of meaning and satisfaction with their lives. When we asked U.S. adults in a survey conducted last year, respondents mentioned many different topics, with family emerging as the most common source of meaning. But of the 30 topics that were studied, only four were universally associated with higher levels of life satisfaction: a person’s good health, romantic partner, friends and career.

Four areas of life universally associated with higher life satisfactionRegardless of age, income, religion and other demographic factors, Americans who mentioned these parts of their lives as meaningful were more likely to rate their lives as satisfying than those who did not, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of responses from 4,492 adults surveyed in September 2017.

What keeps us going

Explore the reflections of Americans on where they find meaning in life.

Respondents were asked to rate their lives on a scale of zero to 10 before providing their open-ended responses. On average, Americans rated their life satisfaction at a 6.7 on a zero-to-10 scale with a majority choosing a value between five and eight. A follow-up question asked what made their lives meaningful or kept them going.

These are the four areas where people with higher life ratings said they found a sense of meaning:

Friends. One-in-five Americans mentioned friends when describing where they find meaning in life. “Our best friends live right across the street and we see them often, our kids get along like siblings and spend almost every free minute with each other,” wrote one respondent. “We are so close to our friends that our families started planning vacations together and doing them with friends is an amazing experience.” Those who mentioned friends rated their life satisfaction 6% higher on the zero-to-10 scale than those who did not.

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Topics: Life Satisfaction, Lifestyle

Nov 19, 2018 10:05 am

Americans are narrowly divided over health effects of genetically modified foods

A farmer tends to a field of transgenic corn. (Andia/UIG via Getty Images)

Americans are closely divided over whether genetically modified foods are worse for one’s health than foods that are not genetically modified, according to a new Pew Research Center report.

About half of Americans think GM foods are worse for one's healthAbout half of U.S. adults (49%) say foods containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients are worse for one’s health than foods containing no GM ingredients, while a slightly smaller share (44%) thinks foods with GM ingredients are neither better nor worse for one’s health. Only 5% say GM foods are better for one’s health.

The survey finds a 10-percentage-point increase in the share of adults who say foods with GM ingredients are worse for one’s health from a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, when the share was 39%. The uptick in concern has come primarily among those with low levels of science knowledge; there has been no shift in this belief among those with high levels of science knowledge (based on a nine-item index of factual knowledge across a range of topics).

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Topics: Health, Science and Innovation, Lifestyle

Nov 15, 2018 7:00 am

How Americans view some of the voting policies approved at the ballot box

Early voters cast their ballots on Oct. 25 at a community center in Potomac, Maryland. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

There was more at stake in this year’s elections than U.S. congressional seats or governorships. In many states, Americans had a chance to weigh in on ballot measures about the voting process itself, including same-day and automatic voter registration, requiring photo IDs to vote, restoring convicted felons’ voting rights and voting absentee without needing a reason. Broadly, majorities of Americans supported the idea of several of these initiatives in a Pew Research Center survey conducted about a month before the election, although there were notable partisan divides on many of them.

Here is what our survey found about Americans’ opinions on the ideas behind some of the voting-related policies that voters approved during midterm elections last week.

Voter registration

Maryland midterm voters approved a measure allowing same-day voter registration in the future. As of March this year, 17 states plus the District of Columbia already had same-day registration policies in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). (In the past, Maryland had allowed same-day registration for early voting periods.)

Overall, about two-thirds (64%) of Americans strongly or somewhat favored the idea of same-day voter registration in our pre-election survey, but partisans were divided. Roughly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78%) favored allowing people to register on Election Day, compared with 49% of Republicans and Republican leaners.

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Topics: Voter Participation, Elections and Campaigns, Democracy, Voter Preferences, 2018 Election

Nov 14, 2018 3:31 pm

America’s polarized views of Trump follow years of growing political partisanship

From the very start of Donald Trump’s presidency, Americans have been divided along partisan lines in their views of him. But partisan divisions in U.S. politics are certainly nothing new.

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Topics: Political Polarization, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties, Donald Trump

Nov 13, 2018 3:00 pm

Despite recent violence, Chicago is far from the U.S. ‘murder capital’

No major American city has come close to Chicago’s soaring murder total in the past few years. The Windy City recorded nearly 1,900 homicides between 2015 and 2017, a period during which the next-closest city, Baltimore, registered around 1,000.

However, when adjusting for its large population, Chicago is by no means the nation’s “murder capital.” For decades, in fact, it has had fewer murders per capita than many other U.S. cities with smaller populations, according to FBI data going back to 1985.

Among big U.S. cities, St. Louis has had the nation's highest murder rate since 2014St. Louis led the nation with 66.1 murders per 100,000 people in 2017, according to the FBI’s most recent yearly statistics, released in September. It was followed by Baltimore (55.8 per 100,000), Detroit (39.8 per 100,000), New Orleans (39.5 per 100,000) and Baton Rouge, Louisiana (38.3 per 100,000).

For its part, Chicago ranked 14th among cities with at least 100,000 people in 2017. Its 653 murders, measured against a population of more than 2.7 million, translated to a murder rate of 24.1 homicides per 100,000. That was less than half the rate in St. Louis and Baltimore and below the rates of cities including Cleveland; Memphis, Tennessee; and Newark, New Jersey.

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Topics: Criminal Justice, Violence and Society, North America

Nov 12, 2018 6:52 am

Russians, Indians, Germans especially likely to say their countries are more globally important

The perception of which countries wield the most influence on the international stage can be in the eye of the beholder. People around the world largely agree that China has become more important over the past 10 years and are more mixed about the roles that Russia, India, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States play. But people in Russia, India and Germany stand out for being much more likely to say their country is playing a bigger role in world affairs than are people in other countries, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Russians, Indians and Germans see their country playing a more important role than people in other countriesFor example, 72% of Russians say their country is playing a more important role in the world today than it did a decade ago. This compares with a median of 41% across the 25 other countries surveyed. Indians and Germans are similarly rosy-eyed about their own countries, while global evaluations are much more circumscribed.

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Topics: Western Europe, Russia, Global Balance of Power, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Country Image

Nov 9, 2018 3:33 pm

Key takeaways about Latino voters in the 2018 midterm elections

Destiny Martinez, 18, voted for the first time on Oct. 24 at an early voting event for students in Norwalk, California. (Mindy Schauer/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Latinos make up an increasing share of the U.S. electorate. A record 29 million Latinos were eligible to vote in this year’s midterm elections, accounting for 12.8% of all eligible voters, a new high. While it’s too soon to know how many voted and their turnout rate, Latinos made up an estimated 11% of all voters nationwide on Election Day, nearly matching their share of the U.S. eligible voter population (U.S. citizens ages 18 and older). Here are key takeaways about Latino voters and the 2018 elections.

1Many more Latinos voted for Democrats than Republicans in 2018 U.S. congressional racesIn U.S. congressional races nationwide, an estimated 69% of Latinos voted for the Democratic candidate and 29% backed the Republican candidate, a more than two-to-one advantage for Democrats, according to National Election Pool exit poll data. These results largely reflect the party affiliation of Latinos. In a Pew Research Center pre-election survey, 62% of Latinos said they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party compared with 27% who affiliated with the Republican Party. Among other racial and ethnic groups, a lower share of whites (44%) voted for Democrats in congressional races compared with blacks (90%) and Asians (77%). (Exit polls offer the first look at who voted in an election, a portrait that will be refined over time as more data, such as state voter files, become available.)

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Topics: Hispanic/Latino Vote, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation, Elections and Campaigns, Voter Preferences, 2018 Election

Nov 8, 2018 2:36 pm

Adult caregiving often seen as very meaningful by those who do it

Alantris Muhammad leaves her home in Chicago Heights, Illinois, with her mother, Dorris West. Muhammad has taken care of West since she was injured in a car accident, leaving her unable to walk or eat on her own. (Alyssa Schukar for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

About one-in-seven U.S. adults (15%) provide unpaid care of some kind to another adult, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And caregiving is often seen as a very meaningful activity for those providing care.

On a typical day, more than an hour of caregiving for adult caregiversAdult caregivers are people who report providing any adult care on the prior day, as measured by the BLS’s American Time Use Survey, which tracks how Americans spend their time in a given day. Caregiving includes providing hands-on assistance with tasks such as dressing, eating and bathing, or even medical care, as well as providing transportation to appointments or helping to maintain the homes or finances of those who receive care. Caregiving can be provided to any adult who needs it – be it a relative, friend or neighbor – either due to age-related limitations or special cognitive or medical needs. (See additional tables for a detailed list of caregiving activities included in this analysis.)

On average, adult caregivers in the United States spend almost an hour and 20 minutes a day providing unpaid assistance, but there is wide variation. About one-in-five caregivers (22%) spend less than 20 minutes a day on caregiving, while at the other end of the spectrum, 11% spend three hours or more a day providing care.

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Topics: Family Roles, Family and Relationships, Household and Family Structure