Sep 18, 2014 2:56 pm

The nation’s wealth recovers, but largely for those at the top

The nation’s aggregate wealth continued to show signs of recovery, ascending to $81.5 trillion as of June 30, after bottoming out at $55 trillion in 2009, according to a new Federal Reserve report  released Thursday.

Net Worth of Households and NonprofitsThe Fed’s aggregate wealth figures, which measure the total net worth of all U.S. households and nonprofits, suggest that inflation-adjusted wealth per household has significantly increased since 2009 (roughly growing 29%) and has surpassed its pre-Recession peak. (The chart to the right does not show these figures adjusted for inflation or number of households.)

But as other economic reports and indicators suggest, that wealth recovery has been concentrated on the wealthiest Americans. Although there is some evidence that those at the bottom are also seeing an economic lift, the aggregate net worth for America’s economic middle is actually declining. In August, the Census Bureau released detailed wealth tabulations that imply that the minimum wealth level needed to qualify for the wealthiest 1% of American households increased from $2.3 million in 2009 to $2.4 million in 2011.  That in itself indicates there were wealth gains at the very top of the wealth distribution.  On the other hand, the minimum wealth level needed to be in the wealthiest 4% of households fell from 2009 to 2011, from which one infers that wealth declined for households at the wealthiest 4% level. Read More

Topics: National Economy, Socioeconomic Class, Wealth

Sep 18, 2014 10:00 am

Families may differ, but they share common values on parenting

Parents see responsibility, hard work as most important trait to teach childrenA new report released today by the Pew Research Center shows how the values Americans bring to parenting are strongly linked to their own ideological leanings. But aside from ideology, the survey finds widespread agreement among parents over the traits that children should be taught.

Moreover, there are only modest differences in these attitudes among parents with one child or several, and among those with children of different ages. For the most part, married mothers and single mothers also share common ground on the values important to teach children.

These findings are based on a Pew Research Center survey conducted April 29-May 27 among 3,243 adults, including 815 parents, who are part of Pew Research’s new American Trends Panel, a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults surveyed online and by mail.

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Topics: Demographics, Education, Parenthood, Political Polarization, Social Values, Teens and Youth

Sep 18, 2014 9:00 am

For first time, census data on married couples includes same-sex spouses

The Census Bureau released new data today that for the first time counted same-sex spouses along with all other married couples in its largest household survey, which, despite the new additions, showed no reversal in the long-term national decline in marriage.

Adults Currently Married B_redo_310pxThe share of Americans ages 18 and older who are currently married inched downward in 2013, to 50.3%, compared with 50.5% in 2012, according to Pew Research Center calculations from the 2013 American Community Survey.

The Census Bureau estimates there were nearly 252,000 households headed by same-sex married couples in 2013, a notable increase from the 182,000 estimated in 2012, but still a small fraction of the 56 million total U.S. married couples. In the past, if two people of the same gender said they were married, the Census Bureau reclassified them as cohabiting partners.
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Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, U.S. Census

Sep 17, 2014 3:10 pm

On Constitution Day, a look at proposed amendments and how seldom they go anywhere

US ConstitutionU.S. politicans say they revere the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of ideas for changing it. Since 2003, in fact, 465 proposed constitutional amendments have been introduced in the House or Senate, according to our count — including 82 in the current Congress alone.

Although they cover dozens of different topics, the proposed amendments in this period all have one thing in common: None of them have gone into effect. In fact, no amendment proposal has gained the necessary two-thirds support in both the House and Senate since 1978, when an amendment giving District of Columbia residents voting representation in Congress was sent to the states for ratification. (Only 16 states had ratified it when the seven-year time limit expired.) Read More

Topics: Congress

Sep 17, 2014 12:34 pm

Americans have dim view of trade’s impact on jobs and wages

The United States is the world’s second largest trading nation. But while 68% of Americans say trade is good for the country, they hold starkly different views than people in other countries around the world when it comes to the supposed benefits of international commerce: job creation and higher wages.

Americans Unsure of Trade BenefitsOnly one-fifth of Americans believe that trade creates jobs compared to a median of 44% among people in advanced economies, 52% of those in emerging economies and 66% of those in developing countries, according to a new Pew Research Center 44 country global survey. The disparities are similar when Americans are asked if trade increases wages, with the U.S. public holding a far more negative view than people in most other nations. Read More

Topics: Globalization and Trade, Income, National Economy, Work and Employment

Sep 17, 2014 10:10 am

Young Americans divided over striking ISIS

Majorities of Republicans and Democrats approve of President Obama’s military plan against ISIS, but one group is not quite on board: younger people.

In Reversal from Iraq War, Young Adults Less Supportive of ISIS CampaignWhile adults 50 and older overwhelmingly approve of the military campaign (59% approve, 23% disapprove), those under 30 are narrowly divided (43% approve, 37% disapprove). Older adults express more worries about Islamic extremism in general and ISIS in particular.

In a survey last month, adults ages 50 and older were especially likely to say ISIS poses a “major threat” to the U.S. (76%). By comparison, 57% of adults under 30 and 61% of those ages 30-49 labeled ISIS as a major threat. Similarly, older adults are far more likely than younger adults to say they are very concerned about the possible rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S.; 71% of those 65 and older are very concerned about increasing Islamic extremism in the U.S. compared with 31% of those under 30. Read More

Topics: Teens and Youth, Wars and International Conflicts

Sep 17, 2014 7:00 am

Q&A: Why one polling expert says Scotland likely to say ‘no’ to independence

Claire Durand, University of Montreal

As the Scottish independence referendum comes down to the wire, the “Yes Scotland” and “Better Together” campaigns are furiously trying to win over any remaining undecided voters. Several polls in recent weeks have showed pro-independence sentiment surging, after months in which the pro-union forces appeared comfortably ahead. Interpreting the blizzard of survey data, though, is challenging even for UK analysts, much less those of us on the other side of the Atlantic.

Claire Durand, a sociology professor at the University of Montreal and secretary-treasurer of the World Association for Public Opinion Research, has been tracking and commenting on the Scottish polling on her blog, Ah! les sondages (Ah, polls). We spoke with her Tuesday about the polls, parallels between the Scottish vote and Quebec’s past sovereignty referendums, and more; the excerpts below have been edited for clarity.

Give us a sense of the state of the polling landscape in Scotland — who’s been polling and what methods are they using?

You have mainly six pollsters, though a new one just appeared this week. TNS-BMRB does face-to-face surveys, Ipsos MORI does telephone polls, and the four other big pollsters — Survation, Panelbase, ICM and YouGov — were all opt-in online only, though ICM and Survation started doing telephone polls in the last few days. The pollsters are very well-known. Read More

Topics: World Elections

Sep 16, 2014 5:50 pm

Most of the world supports globalization in theory, but many question it in practice

Around the World, Public Has Mixed Views on Trade and InvestmentPeople across the globe are of two minds about globalization: in principle, most believe it’s good for their country; in practice many – especially those in advanced economies – are not so sure it’s good for them personally. This skepticism, especially among Americans, Japanese and some Europeans, poses serious domestic political challenges for the transatlantic and the transpacific trade deals now under negotiation, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of publics in 44 countries conducted this spring.

The good news for advocates of globalization is that people across a diverse range of advanced, emerging and developing economies overwhelmingly (a median of 81%) say that international trade and global business ties are good for their country. People also generally voice the opinion (a median of 74%) that it is beneficial for their economy when foreign companies build new factories in their country. The survey included 48,643 respondents from March 17 to June 5, 2014. Read More

Topics: Economic Policy, Globalization and Trade, World Economies

Sep 16, 2014 3:25 pm

Public is sharply divided in views of Americans in poverty

While the nation’s poverty rate has dipped for the first time since 2006, the actual number of poor people (45.3 million) was not statistically different from the previous year, according to the figures released today by the Census Bureau. Poverty is an issue that deeply divides the American public when it comes to how much of a role government should play in alleviating the problems of the poor.

 Public is sharply divided in views of Americans in poverty When asked which view comes closer to their own, roughly half of the public (51%) says the “government today can’t afford to do much more to help the needy,” while 43% say “the government should do more to help needy Americans, even if it means going deeper into debt,” according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted earlier this year.

There are significant divisions on this question by income. Among those with annual family incomes of $50,000 or higher, a majority (59%) say the government can’t do more to help the needy, while 36% say the government should do more. There is no statistical difference on this measure between the highest income Americans (those making at least $150,000 a year) and those who earn between $50,000 and $74,999.

Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Population Trends, Poverty

Sep 16, 2014 9:00 am

10 big questions the Pew Research Center has tackled in the past decade

Ten years ago, the Pew Research Center was established by The Pew Charitable Trusts to bring together several of Pew’s information initiatives. The new organization had a unique mission to offer nonpartisan, non-advocacy information to decision-makers and the public. The Center has amassed a large body of work over the past decade. For our tenth anniversary, here’s a look back at some of our most important findings.

1What does the American political landscape look like? Our long-standing work on political attitudes has tracked a growing ideological division between Republicans and Democrats. This year, our largest political survey ever revealed the two parties are more divided along ideological lines – and partisan animosity is greater – than at any point in the last two decades. This division and rancor is strongest among those who are the most engaged in the political process. And these differences influence our daily lives, including where we want to live, the kinds of neighbors we want to have and whom we would welcome into our families.

Our 2014 political typology survey divided the American public up into cohesive ideological groups based on their attitudes and political values. Curious about where you belong? Take our quiz to find out. Read More