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.
The 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 →
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 →
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 →
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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A new Pew Research Center report shows that in the United States, the share of people aged 65 or older will rise dramatically by 2050. However, the U.S. isn’t experiencing the same gray wave that many other developed nations in Europe and Japan are. At least one-in-five people in Japan, Germany and Italy are already 65 or older, and most other European countries are close behind.
In the U.S., 13% of the population is 65 or older, ranking the country 42nd on this measure out of about 200 other places in 2010, according to United Nations data.
But thanks in large part to global increases in life expectancy, populations in all regions of the world are expected to age dramatically in the coming decades, according to the United Nations. Europe and North America will continue to lead this trend, with the largest shares of older people through the middle of the century. Currently, 16% of Europe is comprised of people 65 and older, as is 13% of North America. By 2050, one-fourth (27%) of Europe’s population will be at least 65 years old, as will 22% of North America’s. In Oceania, the share of older people is expected to rise from 11% to 18%.
Twitter just gained another famous user: President Barack Obama.
On Monday, the White House launched @POTUS, the official Twitter handle for the commander in chief. Obama will personally oversee the account – as he remarked in his first tweet, “Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account.” (Until now, there has been a @BarackObama account that was mostly managed by a group spun off from his past campaigns.)
This seems like a logical next step for an administration that from the start embraced social media — a platform that has come to play a bigger role in how Americans get political news and information.
Overall, 16% of registered voters follow candidates for office, political parties, or elected officials on a social networking site, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted during the lead-up to the 2014 midterm election. That is a 10 percentage point increase from the 2010 midterms, when only 6% of registered voters did so. Read More →
Immigrants to the U.S. are increasingly identifying themselves as religiously unaffiliated, that is, atheist, agnostic or having “no religion in particular,” according to a new Pew Research Center study of America’s religious composition. Indeed, recent immigrants (those who have arrived since 2000) are as likely to have no religious affiliation as the country’s overall adult population.
Our 2014 Religious Landscape Study, a follow-up to the center’s first Religious Landscape Study in 2007, found that one-in-five immigrants said they did not belong to any religion – an increase of 4 percentage points since 2007, when 16% said they did not associate with any faith tradition.
The new survey also found that the share of Christian immigrants has slipped somewhat in the same period, moving from 75% to 68%. That too is in line with trends in the general population, where the share that is Christian has declined.
There also has been growth in the percentage of immigrants who are adherents of non-Christian faiths, rising from 8% to 12% in the past seven years, the new study found. Some groups have seen significant increases. For instance, Muslims now account for 4% of foreign-born residents in this country, up from 2% in 2007.
Most of the Founding Fathers of the United States – not to mention a majority of U.S. presidents – were members of Christian denominations that fall into the mainline Protestant tradition. But in recent years, the share of Americans who identify with mainline Protestantism has been shrinking significantly, a trend driven partly by generational change.
Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study finds that 14.7% of U.S. adults are affiliated with the mainline Protestant tradition – a sharp decline from 18.1% when our last Religious Landscape Study was conducted in 2007. Mainline Protestants have declined at a faster rate than any other major Christian group, including Catholics and evangelical Protestants, and as a result also are shrinking as a share of all Protestants and Christians.
Indeed, despite overall U.S. population growth between 2007 and 2014, the total number of mainline Protestant adults has decreased by roughly 5 million during that time (from about 41 million in 2007 to 36 million in 2014).
The U.S. Senate may vote this week on whether to give President Obama so-called “fast-track” authority to finish negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Should the fast-track legislation pass the Senate and then the House, the trade deal would get a straight up-or-down vote in Congress, with no amendments allowed.
The TPP would remove trade barriers among 12 nations on both sides of the Pacific, including the United States, which collectively account for about 40% of the global economy. The TPP countries represent about 40% of all U.S. international trade, and they include three of the top four U.S. trade partners: Canada (No. 1), Mexico (No. 3) and Japan (No. 4).
The renewed focus on trade made us wonder: Just what kinds of things does the U.S. export and import, and how have those patterns changed recently? Although services (such as financial services, intellectual property, and travel and transport) are significant, most international trade still involves tangible goods, so that’s what we’ll focus on. Read More →
Unlike some other groups of Christians in the U.S., evangelical Protestants have not declined much as a share of the U.S. population in recent years, according to a major new Pew Research Center study.
Our 2014 Religious Landscape Study finds that since 2007, when a similar survey was conducted, the share of evangelical Protestants has fallen only modestly, from 26.3% of the adult population to 25.4%. By contrast, both Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants have declined by more than three percentage points during the same period.
Looking at the raw numbers, the evangelical population actually appears to have grown slightly over the last seven years, rising from roughly 60 million to about 62 million. Again, this contrasts with mainline Protestants and Catholics, who together have lost several million adherents during the same time period. Read More →