Oct 17, 2017 12:00 pm

Amid decline in international adoptions to U.S., boys outnumber girls for the first time

The number of children from outside the U.S. adopted by Americans continued its steady decline in 2016, according to data from the U.S. Department of State. And for the first time on record, males outnumbered females among adoptees from abroad, a trend driven by changing adoption patterns in China.

Americans adopted around 5,370 children from other countries in fiscal year 2016 – 77% fewer than the peak in 2004 and 66% fewer than in 1999, the earliest year for which data on all countries are available. (By comparison, Americans adopted about 53,500 U.S.-born children through public agencies in fiscal 2015, the most recent year for which data from the Health and Human Services Department are available.)

The decline in international adoptions has been driven by a significant drop in adoptions from the five countries where most international adoptees were born: China (which accounts for 78,257 of a total 267,098 adoptees from 1999 to 2016), Russia (46,113), Guatemala (29,805), South Korea (20,318) and Ethiopia (15,317). Together, these five countries have accounted for 71% of all adoptions to the U.S. since 1999, and they have driven 88% of the total decline since 2004.

All five countries have revised their adoption protocols in recent years, making it more difficult for Americans to adopt from these countries. In Russia, a diplomatic rift with the U.S. led to a ban of new American adoptions of Russian children as of 2013. In Guatemala, reports of fraud and corruption within the Guatemalan adoption system prompted the government to suspend new adoptions from the country in late 2007. (The few U.S. adoptions from Russia and Guatemala that occurred after the bans were “transitional” cases – adoptions initiated before the restrictions were in place.) In China, South Korea and Ethiopia, the decrease in international adoption numbers reflects the tightening of domestic laws regarding adoptions in general. The Ethiopian government suspended all international adoptions in April.

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Topics: Family and Relationships, Household and Family Structure

Oct 16, 2017 2:17 pm

A growing share of Americans say it’s not necessary to believe in God to be moral

Most U.S. adults now say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values (56%), up from about half (49%) who expressed this view in 2011. This increase reflects the continued growth in the share of the population that has no religious affiliation, but it also is the result of changing attitudes among those who do identify with a religion, including white evangelical Protestants.

Surveys have long shown that religious “nones” – those who describe themselves religiously as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – are more likely than those who identify with a religion to say that belief in God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality. So the public’s increased rejection of the idea that belief in God is necessary for morality is due, in large part, to the spike in the share of Americans who are religious “nones.”

Indeed, the growth in the share of Americans who say belief in God is unnecessary for morality tracks closely with the growth in the share of the population that is religiously unaffiliated. In the 2011 Pew Research Center survey that included the question about God and morality, religious “nones” constituted 18% of the sample. By 2017, the share of “nones” stood at 25%.

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Topics: Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

Oct 16, 2017 7:00 am

How people in Asia-Pacific view China

Many in Asia-Pacific countries say they are concerned about China's growing military power. Here, a farewell ceremony for the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning on July 11 in Hong Kong. (Xu Dongdong/VCG via Getty Images)
Many in Asia-Pacific countries say they are concerned about China’s growing military power. Here, a farewell ceremony for the fleet of China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, on July 11 in Hong Kong. (Xu Dongdong/VCG via Getty Images)

This week, China convenes its 19th National Congress, a gathering closely watched by those seeking to understand power shifts and policy changes within the world’s most populous country. The meeting will feature a review of the Communist Party’s work over the past five years, including China’s foreign policy and its relations with its neighbors. Pew Research Center’s 2017 Global Attitudes Survey explored China’s image in the Asia-Pacific region. Here are four key findings about how China is viewed by its neighbors:

1Views of China’s economic growth are mixed across the Asia-Pacific region. There is little consensus among the seven countries surveyed there about whether China’s growing economy is more of a good thing or a bad thing for their country. Three say the former, two the latter and two are nearly evenly split. Australians are most positive about China’s economic growth; by a three-to-one margin, more people say China’s economic growth is good for Australia than bad. In contrast, only 20% of Indians see China’s economic rise as a good thing for their country. The Asia-Pacific region is also one of the regions where most people name the U.S., not China, as the top global economic power.

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Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Non-U.S. Political Leaders, China

Oct 12, 2017 3:00 pm

Supporters of stricter gun laws are less likely to contact elected officials

Large majorities of Americans support several specific policies intended to limit access to guns, including expanded background checks and restrictions on sales to the mentally ill. But relatively few Americans actually contact public officials to express their views, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in the spring.

Just 15% of all U.S. adults say they have ever contacted a public official to express their opinion on gun policy. About one-in-five gun owners (21%) have done this, including 9% who say they’ve done so in the past year. That compares with 12% of non-gun owners who have ever reached out to officials about gun policy, including 5% who have done so in the past year.

Furthermore, Americans who believe gun laws should be less strict are more likely to contact public officials on the issue than those who think gun laws should be stricter or are about right (22% have ever done so, compared with 15% of those who favor stricter laws and 10% of those who think laws are about right). Among gun owners, 19% of those who want less strict laws have contacted a public official in the past year, compared with 9% of those who want stricter laws.

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Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Social Values, Gun Policy

Oct 12, 2017 11:06 am

Four-in-ten Americans credit technology with improving life most in the past 50 years

When Americans are asked what has brought the biggest improvement to their lives in the past five decades, they name technology more than any other advancement. And as Americans think about the next 50 years, they expect that technology, along with medical advances, will continue to have a major impact, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted May to June of this year.

The past 50 years have seen major changes in the U.S., from rapid social change ushered in by the civil and equal rights movements of the late 1960s, to biomedical innovations leading to increased success with human and artificial organ transplantation, to the emergence of the information age.

In an open-ended question, respondents were asked, “What would you say was the biggest improvement to life in America over the past 50 years or so?” Technology was cited most (42%), while far fewer respondents mentioned medicine and health (14%), civil and equal rights (10%) or other advancements. Technology was identified as the biggest improvement by whites (47%) and Hispanics (35%), while blacks were about as likely to name technology (26%) as they were civil and equal rights (21%).

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Topics: Science and Innovation, Technology Adoption, Emerging Technology Impacts

Oct 11, 2017 7:03 am

The share of Americans living without a partner has increased, especially among young adults

In the past 10 years, the share of U.S. adults living without a spouse or partner has climbed to 42%, up from 39% in 2007, when the Census Bureau began collecting detailed data on cohabitation.

Two important demographic trends have influenced this phenomenon. The share of adults who are married has fallen, while the share living with a romantic partner has grown. However, the increase in cohabitation has not been large enough to offset the decline in marriage, giving way to the rise in the number of “unpartnered” Americans.

The share of adults who are unpartnered has increased across the young and middle-aged, but the rise has been most pronounced among young adults. Roughly six-in-ten adults younger than 35 (61%) are now living without a spouse or partner, up from 56% just 10 years ago.

The rise in adults living without a spouse or partner has also occurred against the backdrop of a third important demographic shift: the aging of American adults. Older adults (55 and older) are more likely to have a spouse or partner than younger adults. So it is surprising that the share of adults who are unpartnered has risen even though relatively more Americans are older.

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Topics: Demographics, Lifestyle, Marriage and Divorce, Generations and Age

Oct 10, 2017 9:01 am

Women are more concerned than men about gender discrimination in tech industry

Women in the U.S. are substantially more likely than men to say gender discrimination is a major problem in the technology industry, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in July and August.

The survey comes amid public debate about underrepresentation and treatment of women – as well as racial and ethnic minorities – in the industry. Critics of Silicon Valley have cited high-profile cases as evidence that the industry has fostered a hostile workplace culture. For their part, tech companies point to their commitment to increasing workforce diversity, even as some employees claim the industry is increasingly hostile to white males.

The new survey finds that roughly three-quarters of Americans (73%) say discrimination against women is a problem in the tech industry, with 37% citing it as a major problem and an equal share citing it as a minor one. But 44% of women say it is a major problem, compared with just 29% of men. And roughly a third of men (32%) say discrimination against women is not a problem, compared with 17% of women.

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Topics: Gender, Work and Employment, Discrimination and Prejudice

Oct 9, 2017 9:35 am

Malala’s 2012 shooting came at time of high social hostilities in Pakistan

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai displays her medal during the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony in Oslo on Dec. 10, 2014. (Cornelius Poppe/AFP/Getty Images)
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai displays her medal during the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony in Oslo on Dec. 10, 2014. (Cornelius Poppe/AFP/Getty Images)

Five years ago today, Taliban gunmen tried to kill Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan in response to her advocacy of education for girls. The Taliban justified the attack by claiming the then-15-year-old’s education efforts were pro-Western and anti-Islamic.

The shooting came at a time when social hostilities involving religion were at a high point, both globally and in Pakistan. More recently, these hostilities in Pakistan have ebbed somewhat, though the country still faces many challenges in this area.

The type of attack carried out against Malala – along with other social hostilities involving religion – is captured in Pew Research Center’s annual coding of global religious restrictions. The Social Hostilities Index (SHI) is a 10-point index that measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations or groups in society, with a score of 10 indicating the highest level of hostilities.

In 2012, the year Malala was shot, social hostilities involving religion hit a six-year high worldwide as well as in Pakistan, which scored a 9.8 that year. During this time, Pakistanis accused of blasphemy were killed, according to the U.S. State Department’s annual report on religious freedom, and discrimination against the country’s religious minority groups, such as Shiite Muslims and Christians, remained prevalent.

In the years following the attack, social hostilities have declined somewhat in Pakistan. In 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, Pakistan is still in the “very high” category, but the SHI score has decreased to 7.2.

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Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Wars and International Conflicts, Religious Extremism, Restrictions on Religion, Violence and Society

Oct 9, 2017 7:06 am

Most Americans would favor policies to limit job and wage losses caused by automation

Americans are apprehensive about a future in which machines take on more of the work now done by humans, and most are supportive of policies aimed at cushioning the economic impact of widespread automation, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The vast majority of Americans (85%) say they would support restricting workforce automation to jobs that are dangerous or unhealthy for humans to do, including 47% who support the idea strongly, according to the survey, conducted May 1-15 among 4,135 U.S. adults. A smaller majority (62%) would favor giving consumers the option to pay extra to interact with a human, rather than a robot or computer, when purchasing products or services.

Most Americans also see a policy role for the federal government, specifically. Six-in-ten say they would favor a federal policy that would provide a guaranteed income for all citizens to meet basic needs if robots and computers become capable of doing many jobs now done by humans. And 58% say they would support a federal service program that would pay people to do tasks even if machines are able do the work faster and more cheaply.

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Topics: Work and Employment, Federal Government, Technology Adoption, Emerging Technology Impacts

Oct 6, 2017 2:30 pm

A closer look at who does (and doesn’t) pay U.S. income tax

As Congress and the White House pivot from trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act to overhauling the U.S. tax code, it’s helpful to take a closer look at how the tax system works presently in the context of its recent history.

Individual income taxes are the federal government’s single biggest revenue source. In fiscal year 2017, which ended Sept. 30, the individual income tax was expected to bring in nearly $1.66 trillion, or about 48% of all federal revenues, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The corporate income tax was estimated to raise another $324 billion, or 9% of total federal revenue.

The rest of the federal government’s revenue comes from a mix of sources, including Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, excise taxes such as those on alcohol and gasoline, unemployment-insurance taxes, customs duties and estate taxes. Spending that’s not covered by taxes is paid for by borrowing.

The individual income tax is designed to be progressive – those with higher incomes pay at higher rates. A Pew Research Center analysis of IRS data from 2015, the most recent available, shows that taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 or more paid well over half (58.8%) of federal income taxes, though they accounted for only 4.5% of all returns filed (6.8% of all taxable returns).

By contrast, taxpayers with incomes below $30,000 filed nearly 44% of all returns but paid just 1.4% of all federal income tax – in fact, two-thirds of the nearly 66 million returns filed by people in that lowest income tier owed no tax at all. (The IRS tax data used here are estimates based on a stratified probability sample of all returns.)

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Topics: Economic Policy, Income, Congress, Federal Government, Taxes