Mar 28, 2016 10:30 am

Views of NATO and its role are mixed in U.S., other member nations

Foreign policy and national security have been key elements of the debate for both the Republican and Democratic parties in this year’s U.S. presidential campaign. GOP front-runner Donald Trump recently added a twist when he suggested in a Washington Post interview that, while NATO is “a good thing to have,” changes are needed because the U.S. is doing “all of the lifting” and its allies need to do more. He cited in particular the handling of the face-off with Russia over Ukraine. In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, he called NATO “obsolete.”

FT_16.03.28_NATO_supportJust 49% of Americans had a favorable view of NATO in a Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2015, and those views have not changed much from previous years. Support includes 56% of Democrats but just 43% of the GOP. Notably, U.S. backing for the security alliance is the second lowest among eight NATO nations surveyed.

The NATO alliance commits each member to come to the collective defense of a member if it is attacked. During the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine last year, a majority of Americans (56%) were willing to fulfill this security commitment if Russia got into a serious military conflict with a NATO ally. But that finding masked a partisan divide: Nearly seven-in-ten Republicans (69%), but only 47% of Democrats, supported using force to aid a NATO ally attacked by Russia.  Read More

Topics: Europe, Foreign Affairs and Policy, National Security, Russia, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties, Wars and International Conflicts

Mar 24, 2016 11:00 am

Historic population losses continue across Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's population decline has become widespread in recent years

Population losses in Puerto Rico have accelerated in recent years, affecting every corner of the island and continuing the largest outmigration in more than 50 years, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released county-level Census Bureau data.

Puerto Rico's population has shrunk since 2000Among Puerto Rico’s counties that saw the largest population losses between 2010 and 2015 was San Juan, home to the island’s capital city and largest metro area. That county’s population declined by 40,000 people (-10%) to 355,000, by far the largest numeric drop of any county. Nine other counties saw population declines of at least 10% during this time.

Only one of the island’s counties, or municipios, saw a significant population increase between 2010 and 2015: Gurabo, in eastern Puerto Rico, grew by 1,900 people (4%) to 47,000.

Overall, the island’s population was an estimated 3.47 million in 2015, down 334,000 from 2000 – a 9% decline. Three-quarters of this population loss has taken place since 2010. Puerto Rico’s population declined by 7% from 2010 to 2015, compared with a 2% loss from 2000 to 2010.  Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Latin America, Population Trends, U.S. Census

Mar 24, 2016 9:30 am

A religious gender gap for Christians, but not for Muslims

Gender gap in worship service attendance differs between Muslim-majority and Christian-majority countries

One of the most striking findings in a new Pew Research Center analysis of survey and census data on gender and religion is that while Christian women are on the whole more religious than Christian men, Muslim women and Muslim men have similar levels of religious commitment. And when it comes to attendance at worship services, Muslim men are more active than Muslim women.

This assessment emerges from data collected in scores of predominantly Muslim and predominantly Christian countries comparing men and women on several key measures of religious commitment. For instance, Christian women report praying daily more frequently than Christian men by an overall average of 10 percentage points (61% vs. 51%) across 54 countries where data are available. In some countries, the gap is much bigger, ranging up to 25 percentage points in Greece. By contrast, Muslim women are about as likely as Muslim men to report praying daily as (72% vs. 71%) across 40 countries where data are available. Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Gender, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Mar 23, 2016 2:00 pm

Incentives – and pressures – for U.S. workers in a ‘knowledge economy’

As automation looms and more and more jobs are being shaped to accommodate the tech-saturated “knowledge economy,” 63% of full- and part-time workers say they have taken steps in the past 12 months to upgrade their skills and knowledge.

That is one of several key findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted last fall to understand people’s motives for learning, both in professional and personal contexts. The Center then held a series of related focus groups in December, drawing insights from those in the Baltimore, Atlanta and St. Louis metro regions.

Here are some of the key themes that came out of those conversations about learning, work and a changing economy.

The Great Recession led to soul-searching and skills re-evaluation. A number of participants talked about how they took stock of their skill set and employability after the economic collapse that began in 2007-08. As a result, many pursued job-related training. More than half (55%) of those who did so sought to learn, maintain or improve job skills:

[In 2008] I saw everything going on around me with co-workers, neighbors, friends and asked myself, “Who’s coming after me and my job? How long are my skills going to last?” …. I did some research that was pretty comforting, but I try to spend a little time every couple of months now reassessing my status.
– Mid-career professional, Atlanta region Read More

Topics: Educational Attainment, Emerging Technology Impacts, National Economy, Technology Adoption, Work and Employment

Mar 23, 2016 7:00 am

Q&A: Why are women generally more religious than men?

The much-debated question of whether women are more religious than men is the focus of Pew Research Center’s recently released report “The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World.” The study finds that women are generally – but not universally – more religious than men in several ways. Indeed, data collected for the study show that in some religions and some contexts, men are as, or even more, religious than women.

David Voas, head of the Department of Social Science at University College London
David Voas, professor and head of the Department of Social Science at University College London

Fact Tank discussed the report’s findings with David Voas, head of the Department of Social Science at University College London. A demographer and sociologist, Voas has written extensively about religion, spirituality and the transmission of beliefs and values from one generation to another.

What in your personal view are the most plausible explanations for the differences in religious commitment between men and women?

David Voas: Personally, I’m tempted to give the classic academic response that more research is needed. At the risk of seeming wishy-washy, I suspect that nature and nurture both play a part. Boys and girls are socialized differently and men and women are still channeled into different roles. When we look at the psychology of individual differences, though, particularly in personality, it’s not easy to attribute gender gaps in their entirety to social forces.  Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Gender, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society

Mar 22, 2016 1:01 pm

Women generally are more religious than men, but not everywhere

A new Pew Research Center analysis of international census and survey data finds that there is a religion gender gap: Women generally are more religious than men by several key measures of religious commitment, although this pattern is not universal and can vary by religious tradition.

Overall, women are more likely than men to be affiliated with a religious organization; women also pray more and are more inclined to say religion is “very important” in their lives. These findings come from survey data collected by Pew Research Center in up to 84 countries that compare men and women in several different aspects of religious commitment.

However, the report also finds that in some countries and faiths, men are more religious than women, at least by some measures. For instance, among Muslims and Orthodox Jews, men are more likely than women to attend worship services at least weekly, the new study finds.

Women are more likely than men to pray daily in many countries Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Gender, Jews and Judaism, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Mar 21, 2016 7:00 am

5 facts about Israeli Druze, a unique religious and ethnic group

Israeli Druze demonstration
Israeli Druze wave their community’s flags during a demonstration on June 14, 2015, in reaction to a shoot-out in northwest Idlib province in Syria that killed members of the Druze minority. (Photo credit: Jalaa Marey/AFP/Getty Images)

Like a number of other ethnic groups in the Middle East, such as the Kurds, the Druze live in several different countries, separated by borders drawn after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1920s. But unlike the Kurds, who are largely Muslim, the Druze are a unique religious and ethnic group. Their tradition dates back to the 11th century and incorporates elements of Islam, Hinduism and even classical Greek philosophy.

Today, 1 million-plus members of this community live primarily in Syria and Lebanon and, to a lesser extent, in Israel and Jordan. In Israel, the Druze are a close-knit community active in public life, according to a new Pew Research Center study of Israel. They make up roughly 2% of the country’s population and most live in the northern regions of the Galilee, Carmel and the Golan Heights.

Here are five facts about Druze in Israel:

1Israeli DruzeNine-in-ten Israeli Druze say they have a strong sense of belonging to the Druze community and about the same number (93%) say they are proud to be Druze. Roughly two-thirds say they have a special responsibility to take care of Druze in need around the world. About seven-in-ten Druze (72%) say their religious identity is very important to them. But when asked if their Druze identity is mainly a matter of religion, culture or ancestry – or a combination of these elements – roughly eight-in-ten say being Druze is either essentially about ancestry or culture (33%) or a combination of religion and ancestry/culture (47%). Only about one-in-five say being Druze is primarily a matter of religion (18%). By comparison, more Israeli Christians (31%) and Israeli Muslims (45%) say being Christian/Muslim is mainly a matter of religion to them. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Demographics, Middle East and North Africa, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation

Mar 18, 2016 11:59 am

5 facts about U.S. relations with Cuba

President Barack Obama will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge did so in 1928, marking a historic moment in the diplomatic relations between the two countries. The renewal of diplomatic and economic ties has drawn widespread support in the U.S., but significant partisan differences on the future of the relationship between the two countries remain.

Here are five facts about the relationship between the United States and Cuba:

1A majority of Americans support the renewal of diplomatic relations with Cuba. A Pew Research Center survey from July 2015 found that 73% of Americans approved of the thaw in relations between the two countries. A similar share also said they would favor ending the trade embargo the U.S. imposed against Cuba in 1960. Support for renewed diplomatic and economic relations had increased across nearly all partisan groups since January 2015, the month after Obama announced his initiative. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Bilateral Relations, Globalization and Trade, Immigration Trends, Latin America

Mar 18, 2016 10:10 am

5 facts about Twitter at age 10

The very first Twitter message was sent on March 21, 2006. The microblogging platform was then known as twttr – the vowels came later, after the founders bought the twitter.com domain name. It spent its first few months as an internal messaging system for Odeo, the company that developed it, then was opened to the general public in July 2006.

Today, millions of people around the world use Twitter to break and comment on news, disseminate official pronouncements, organize campaigns and protests, or just let their friends know what’s on their minds. Here are five facts about Twitter at age 10:

FT_16.03.17_twitter_globalUsers1Twitter’s user base has grown rapidly but may be plateauing. Twitter averaged 320 million monthly active users (MAUs) in the fourth quarter of 2015, 9.6% more than in the same quarter a year earlier, according to the company’s financial disclosure statements. That’s Twitter’s slowest annualized growth rate since at least 2011, when comparable data began to be publicly disclosed. Domestic, international and total MAUs were all flat or slightly down compared with the third quarter. (The company defines an MAU as anyone who accessed the service at least once in the past 30 days.) Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Internet Activities, Social Media, Social Networking

Mar 18, 2016 7:00 am

Illegal migration to EU rises for routes both well-worn and less-traveled

Illegal migration to Europe surges in 2015The number of illegal entries into Europe by migrants hit a high point last year, and as their numbers increased, a picture emerged of the land and sea routes many migrants are taking to get there.

In 2015, more than 1.8 million people crossed the European Union’s borders illegally, according to Frontex, the agency responsible for coordinating the security of the EU’s external land and sea borders. This was up substantially from 2014 (with about 280,000 detections of illegal border crossings) and 2013 (about 100,000 detections). In fact, 2015 saw the most illegal entries into the EU since Frontex began collecting data about a decade ago.

Frontex’s data reflect apprehensions, or “detections,” of migrants entering the EU illegally (Frontex uses the term “irregular migrants”), so they are not an exact count of migrants entering Europe. Some migrants enter Europe illegally without being detected. Others are counted more than once because they cross European borders twice (for example, both a sea and land border) or try to enter the EU several times. Still others may enter legally on a travel visa, but overstay their allotted time in Europe or later claim asylum to remain, at least temporarily, in Europe.

Illegal migration to Europe

Read More

Topics: Eastern Europe, Europe, Immigration Trends, Middle East and North Africa, Migration, Unauthorized Immigration, Western Europe