May 14, 2015 1:41 pm

Methods can matter: Where Web surveys produce different results than phone interviews

Over the past year, Pew Research Center conducted an experiment to see if the mode by which someone was surveyed – in this case, a telephone survey with an interviewer versus a self-administered survey on the Web – would have any effect on the answers people gave. We used two randomly selected groups from our American Trends Panel to do this, asking both groups the same set of 60 questions.

Respondents can give different answers on web-based surveys than in phone interviews.

The result? Overall, our study found that it was fairly common to see differences in responses between those who took the survey with an interviewer by phone and those who took the survey on their own (self-administered) online, but typically the differences were not large. There was a mean difference of 5.5 percentage points and a median difference of 5 points across the 60 questions.

But there were three broad types of questions that produced larger differences (known as mode effects) between the responses of those interviewed by phone vs. Web. These differences are noteworthy given that many pollsters, market research firms and political organizations are increasingly turning to online surveys which, compared with phone surveys, are generally less expensive to produce and faster in yielding results.

Here are three of the areas that showed the biggest mode gaps in responses from the phone and Web groups in our study:

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Topics: Discrimination and Prejudice, Race and Ethnicity, Research Methodology, U.S. Political Figures

May 14, 2015 9:01 am

News audiences spread the word, but few get involved in local journalism

News of the Amtrak train derailment Tuesday night was just the latest example of how smartphones and social media have expanded opportunities for the public to not only consume and share local news, but to participate in journalism. Indeed, reports of how passengers escaped from overturned rail cars, as well as other recent local-turned-national news stories such as the Baltimore police protests, have included widely circulated bystander photos and videos. But to what extent is the public directly engaging in acts of journalism?

A March 2015 set of Pew Research Center case studies, along with past research on the subject, suggests that it’s a small but measurable share.

Sharing Local News Much More Common than ContributingWe asked residents about the actions they take to gather, share and add to the news in their communities. In three cities — Denver, Macon, Ga., and Sioux City, Iowa — we found that residents were more likely to share news than to post or submit their own. In Denver, 54% of residents had shared a news story through a digital channel (such as email or social media) in the past year, as did 40% in Sioux City and 36% in Macon. But no more than one-in-ten residents of each city had submitted their own local news content to a news outlet or website.

We also asked a smaller subset of residents — those who say they get local news on a social networking site — about their sharing and posting behaviors on social media. Here, a similar pattern emerged: Twice as many often share or repost local news stories, images or videos (30% in Denver, 28% in Macon and 30% in Sioux City) as post photos or videos that they themselves took of a local news event (16% in Denver, 15% in Macon and 15% in Sioux City). Read More

Topics: Community Media, Local News, Mobile, Social Media

May 14, 2015 7:00 am

Dim public awareness of Supreme Court as major rulings loom

SPOILER ALERT: This post is based in part on Pew Research Center’s latest News IQ Quiz. If you haven’t taken the quiz yet, you might want to do so now before reading on.

Supreme Court's Members Are Little-KnownIn the next few weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue rulings that could potentially affect same-sex marriage, health care and capital punishment in the United States.

Yet it remains an institution whose members – and even the facts about some of its most important decisions – are a mystery to many Americans.

In Pew Research Center’s most recent knowledge quiz, just 33% knew that there are three women on the Supreme Court – Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. A higher percentage (39%) said that there are two women on the high court, while 14% said there is one and 4% said four.

It was by far the lowest correct response percentage for any of the 12 questions in the quiz. But lack of awareness about the Supreme Court’s members is nothing new. In fact, Americans have fared no better when asked other questions about the court’s members in recent years. Read More

Topics: Public Knowledge, Supreme Court

May 13, 2015 7:00 am

A closer look at America’s rapidly growing religious ‘nones’

Religiously unaffiliated people have been growing as a share of all Americans for some time. Pew Research Center’s massive 2014 Religious Landscape Study makes clear just how quickly this is happening, and also shows that the trend is occurring within a variety of demographic groups – across genders, generations and racial and ethnic groups, to name a few.

Religiously UnaffiliatedReligious “nones” – a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” – now make up roughly 23% of the U.S. adult population. This is a stark increase from 2007, the last time a similar Pew Research study was conducted, when 16% of Americans were “nones.” (During this same time period, Christians have fallen from 78% to 71%.)

Overall, religiously unaffiliated people are more concentrated among young adults than other age groups – 35% of Millennials (those born 1981-1996) are “nones.” In addition, the unaffiliated as a whole are getting even younger. The median age of unaffiliated adults is now 36, down from 38 in 2007 and significantly younger than the overall median age of U.S. adults in 2014 (46). Read More

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

May 12, 2015 12:45 pm

Millennials increasingly are driving growth of ‘nones’

Generational Replacement and the Rise of the Unaffiliated

For years, surveys have indicated that members of the youngest generation of adults in the U.S. are far less likely than older Americans to identify with a religious group. But a major new Pew Research Center survey finds that, as time goes on, the already-large share of religiously unaffiliated Millennial adults is increasing significantly.

A high percentage of younger members of the Millennial generation – those who have entered adulthood in just the last several years – are religious “nones” (saying they are atheists or agnostics, or that their religion is “nothing in particular”). At the same time, an increasing share of older Millennials also identify as “nones,” with more members of that group rejecting religious labels in recent years. Read More

Topics: Generations and Age, Millennials, Religious Affiliation, Religiously Unaffiliated

May 12, 2015 7:00 am

5 key findings about the changing U.S. religious landscape

Pew Research Center’s new Religious Landscape Study, the first since our 2007 study, draws on a massive sample size of more than 35,000 Americans to offer a detailed look at the current religious composition of U.S. adults. The size of the sample enables us to explore relatively small religious groups (including specific Christian denominations) as well as state- and metropolitan area-level data.

In addition to the full report, the findings of the study can be explored at a new interactive website. Here are a few of the key findings: Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Hindus and Hinduism, Muslim Americans, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

May 11, 2015 1:57 pm

Census Bureau decides to keep marriage questions on survey

American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau
(American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau)

Under pressure from academics and advocates, the U.S. Census Bureau has abandoned plans to delete a series of questions about marriage and divorce from its largest household survey. The agency also is toning down the tactics it uses to encourage people to answer the survey because of complaints that it is too aggressive.

The bureau had proposed eliminating questions from the American Community Survey that asked respondents whether they have been married, widowed or divorced within the past year. Also proposed for removal were questions on how many times a person has been married and when he or she last got married, which can be used to measure marital stability. Agency officials announced their about-face on the marriage questions, in part because of criticism from researchers, in a Federal Register notice published last month. Read More

Topics: Federal Government, Marriage and Divorce, U.S. Census

May 11, 2015 11:59 am

Americans and Germans differ on approach to Russia

Not since the end of the Cold War has Russia loomed so large in German-American relations, due in large part to recent developments in Ukraine. Germany’s geographic proximity and economic ties to Russia give Berlin and Washington different stakes in the current confrontation with Moscow.

Majority of Germans Prefer Strong Ties with U.S.According to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in association with the Bertelsmann Foundation, a majority of Germans (57%) believe it is more important for Germany to have strong ties with the United States than with Russia. Just 15% prefer strong ties with Russia, and another 21% volunteer that it is best to have an equally close relationship with both.

However, the legacy of World War II lives on in public opinion: East and West Germans differ on how they view ties with the U.S. While 61% of Germans living in the West prefer a strong affiliation with America, just 44% of people living in the East agree. And while 23% of people in the East voice support for strong ties with Russia, only 12% of those in the West agree. Read More

Topics: Global Balance of Power, International Governments and Institutions, International Threats and Allies, Russia, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism, World Economies

May 11, 2015 10:05 am

Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force

U.S. Labor Force by Generation, 1995-2015

More than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015), and this year they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Read More

Topics: Generations and Age, Millennials, Work and Employment

May 8, 2015 12:47 pm

For young Americans, unemployment returns to pre-recession levels

Young People Make Large Share of Unemployed

At 5.4%, April’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was the lowest it’s been in seven years, though essentially unchanged from March, according to Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a 4.6-percentage-point drop since October 2009, when it peaked at 10%. No doubt, this trend should be good news for job seekers.

But if you’re a teenager or young adult, you’re much less likely to have seen significant job market improvement compared with older adults. Our analysis of the latest employment data finds that last month, more than half (50.9%) of the nation’s nearly 8 million unemployed people are between the ages of 16 and 34 – even though that group makes up just over a third of the civilian labor force. Read More

Topics: Economic Recession, Generations and Age, National Economy, Work and Employment