Dec 18, 2017 9:30 am

5 facts about Christmas in America

Christmas tree ornaments

Wherever Americans stand on holiday-time debates on issues ranging from what’s depicted on Starbucks cups to public displays of religious symbols, it’s hard to disagree that Christmas is still a big part of many people’s lives.

Just in time for the holidays, here are five facts about Christmas in America and how people celebrate it:

1 Nine-in-ten Americans (90%) — and 95% of Christians — say they celebrate Christmas, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. While these figures have generally held steady in recent years,  the role of religion in Christmas celebrations appears to be declining. Today, 46% of Americans say they celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious (rather than cultural) holiday, down from 51% who said this in 2013, with Millennials less likely than other adults to say they celebrate Christmas in a religious way. A majority of U.S. adults (56%) also say religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less in American society today than in the past, though relatively few are bothered by this trend.

2 When they go to the store, which greeting do Americans prefer: “merry Christmas” or “happy holidays”? For some, this can be a sensitive question, but an increasing number of Americans do not seem to have strong feelings either way. About half of Americans (52%) now say it doesn’t matter how stores greet their customers over the holidays, up from 46% in 2012. About a third (32%) choose “merry Christmas” – down considerably from the 42% who said this five years ago. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say they prefer “merry Christmas.”

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Dec 14, 2017 12:03 pm

Gender discrimination comes in many forms for today’s working women

iStock Photo
iStock Photo

About four-in-ten working women (42%) in the United States say they have faced discrimination on the job because of their gender. They report a broad array of personal experiences, ranging from earning less than male counterparts for doing the same job to being passed over for important assignments, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data.

The survey – conducted in the summer before a recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations against prominent men in politics, the media and other industries – found that, among employed adults, women are about twice as likely as men (42% versus 22%) to say they have experienced at least one of eight specific forms of gender discrimination at work.

One of the biggest gender gaps is in the area of income: One-in-four working women (25%) say they have earned less than a man who was doing the same job; one-in-twenty working men (5%) say they have earned less than a female peer.

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Topics: Discrimination and Prejudice, Gender, Business and Labor, Social Values, Work and Employment

Dec 14, 2017 10:01 am

Number of U.S. workers employed by foreign-owned companies is on the rise

Foreign-owned companies employed 6.8 million workers in the United States in 2015, up 22% from 2007, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The increase is notably larger than overall U.S. private employment growth, which was 3.6% over the same span.

Among foreign enterprises, British-owned companies employed the highest number of U.S. workers in 2015 (around 1.1 million), followed by companies with majority ownership in Japan (around 856,000) and France, Germany and Canada (each over 600,000). These five countries alone accounted for a majority (58%) of U.S. employment by foreign-owned enterprises in 2015 and have made up the top five since at least 2007, the earliest year for which comparable data are available.

Overall, foreign-owned companies accounted for 5.5% of all U.S. private sector employment in 2015, up from 4.7% in 2007. This analysis counts full- and part-time employees of foreign multinational enterprises’ U.S. affiliates (such as corporate branches) that were majority-owned by their foreign parents in 2015, the most recent year available. The BEA provides country-level data for 41 countries and territories, as well as broader regional and global totals.

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Topics: Globalization and Trade, World Economies, National Economy

Dec 13, 2017 3:53 pm

U.S. Senate seats rarely have flipped to other party in recent special elections

Democratic U.S. Sen.-elect Doug Jones greets supporters during his election night gathering at the Sheraton Hotel on Dec. 12, 2017, in Birmingham, Alabama. Jones defeated Republican challenger Roy Moore in a special election to claim Alabama's Senate seat that was vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. Sen.-elect Doug Jones greets supporters during his election night gathering at the Sheraton Hotel on Dec. 12 in Birmingham, Alabama. Jones defeated Republican challenger Roy Moore in a special election to claim the Senate seat that was vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Doug Jones’ narrow victory in Tuesday’s special U.S. Senate election in Alabama did more than make him the first Democrat to win a Senate seat from that state in a quarter-century: It marks the first time since 2010 that a Senate special election has flipped a seat from one party to the other.

Jones, a former federal prosecutor, defeated Republican Roy Moore 49.9% to 48.4% in a race that saw far higher turnout than had been predicted.

Before Jones’ win, the most recent Senate seat to flip in a special election was the Illinois one held by Barack Obama before he became president: Republican Mark Kirk won the seat in November 2010. Earlier that same year, Republican Scott Brown won a special election in Massachusetts for the Senate seat that Democrat Edward Kennedy had held before his death. In the case of Tuesday’s election, the Alabama seat opened up after President Donald Trump named then-Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

In the eight other special Senate elections held since 2010, the incumbent party has retained its seat (six Democratic, two Republican). That makes special Senate elections similar to their House counterparts: A Pew Research Center analysis earlier this year found that no House seat has flipped in a special election since 2012.  Read More

Topics: Congress, Federal Government, Elections and Campaigns

Dec 12, 2017 9:01 am

Nearly half of Americans use digital voice assistants, mostly on their smartphones

Voice-controlled digital assistants are being incorporated into a wide range of consumer products, and nearly half of U.S. adults (46%) say they now use these applications to interact with smartphones and other devices, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted this spring.

Voice assistants are present on a wide range of devices, but the most common way for Americans to use them is on a smartphone: 42% of U.S. adults use voice assistants in this way. Some 14% of the public has used a voice assistant on a computer or tablet, while 8% say they use them on a stand-alone device such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home.

These applications are relatively popular among those ages 18 to 49: 55% of Americans in this age group say they use voice assistants, compared with 37% of those 50 and older.

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Topics: Mobile, Technology Adoption

Dec 11, 2017 10:31 am

For the first time, more Americans say 2010 health care law has had a positive than negative impact on U.S.

While the future of the Affordable Care Act is in question, the public increasingly thinks the law has had a positive impact on the country. Today, more Americans say the 2010 health care overhaul has had a mostly positive than mostly negative effect on the country (44% versus 35%), while 14% say it has not had much effect.

Overall support for the health care law also has grown since last year. Currently, 56% of the public approves of the law while 38% disapproves, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 4. The law drew majority approval for the first time in February, when 54% expressed support for it.

As recently as April 2016, more Americans thought the law had had a negative impact on the country (44%) than said it had a positive effect (39%). Since 2013, the share of Americans saying the law has had a positive effect on the country has increased 20 percentage points, from 24% to 44%.

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Topics: Congress, Federal Government, Health Care

Dec 11, 2017 6:59 am

Afghans who worked for U.S. government make up growing share of special immigrant visa recipients

The U.S. has admitted more than 70,000 Iraqi and Afghan citizens over the past decade through special immigrant visa programs available to those who worked for the U.S. government during conflicts in their home countries, and Afghans account for a big majority of them, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of State data.

Recipients of these special visas served as interpreters or translators or performed other key jobs in Afghanistan or Iraq for the U.S. government and in doing so put themselves and their families in danger.  Read More

Topics: Immigration Trends, Migration, Middle East and North Africa, Immigration

Dec 8, 2017 11:10 am

A global snapshot of same-sex marriage

With the Australian Parliament’s recent passage of legislation legalizing gay marriage, 26 countries now permit gays and lesbians to wed. And if a recent high court ruling in Europe’s Austria takes effect as expected in 2019, that country also will join the ranks of nations allowing same-sex unions.

These events follow a number of other high-profile victories in recent years for gay marriage advocates, including Germany’s decision in June 2017 to allow gays and lesbians to wed and a Supreme Court ruling ruling two years earlier that made same-sex marriage legal in the United States.

Australia’s final parliamentary vote came on Dec. 7, just three weeks after more than 60% of Australians — voting in a nonbinding nationwide referendum — said they favored legalizing same-sex marriage.

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Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Social Values

Dec 7, 2017 3:03 pm

Women and men in both parties say sexual harassment allegations reflect ‘widespread problems in society’

By a wide margin, the U.S. public views recent reports of sexual harassment and assault as more reflective of widespread problems in society rather than acts of individual misconduct. Majorities across all demographic and partisan groups – including men and women in both parties – hold this view.

Overall, two-thirds of Americans (66%) say the recent allegations “mainly reflect widespread problems in society,” compared with just 28% attributing them mainly to individual misconduct, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 4 among 1,503 adults.

Women are more likely than men (71% vs. 60%) to see allegations of sexual misconduct as mainly reflective of broad societal problems. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (70%) are also somewhat more likely to say this than Republicans and Republican leaners (61%).

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Topics: Social Values

Dec 7, 2017 11:08 am

How people in India see Pakistan, 70 years after partition

Indian soldiers take up position at an outpost on the India-Pakistan border in R.S. Pora, southwest of Jammu, on Oct. 2, 2016. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian soldiers take up position at an outpost on the India-Pakistan border in R.S. Pora, southwest of Jammu, on Oct. 2, 2016. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

In the 70 years since the partition of India, the relationship between India and Pakistan has often centered on the disputed border region of Kashmir. A recent Pew Research Center report examined attitudes in India on a range of subjects, including Pakistan and the handling of the Kashmir dispute.

Here are some key findings from the Center’s recent survey:

1People in India have grown increasingly negative in their views of Pakistan. As of spring 2017, 72% of Indians see Pakistan unfavorably. Almost two-thirds (64%) have a very unfavorable view of Pakistan, the highest level recorded since Pew Research Center began measuring in 2013. This dislike cuts across party lines: Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the rival Indian National Congress party both have a very unfavorable view of Pakistan (70% and 63%, respectively). Only 10% of Indians see Pakistan favorably.

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Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Wars and International Conflicts