Sep 19, 2017 2:00 pm

5 facts about government debt around the world

Public debt has increased sharply in many countries in recent years, particularly during and after the Great Recession. Globally, the total amount of government debt now exceeds $63.1 trillion, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of International Monetary Fund data.

Here are five facts about government debt around the world. This analysis is based on IMF data for 43 countries that are members of the Group of Twenty or the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The figures used are for consolidated debt issued by all levels of government, less debt held by other governmental units (unless otherwise noted).

1The United States has more government debt than any other country analyzed, with nearly $20 trillion in gross debt in 2016. Japan was second, with 1,285 trillion yen (more than $11 trillion in 2016 dollars), followed by China with 34.5 trillion yuan (nearly $5 trillion). (Gross debt refers to all public debt – including intragovernmental debt, or what the government owes itself. Net debt, by contrast, is gross debt minus government assets related to debt, such as pensions for government workers.)

Worldwide, public debt is still significantly lower than total debt owed by the private sector. Private debt made up about two-thirds of all non-financial-sector global debt in 2015.

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Topics: National Economy, Economic Recession, World Economies

Sep 19, 2017 11:02 am

Going into election, Germans are happy with their economy and political establishment

Supporters of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, top candidate for the conservative Christian Democratic Union party in the upcoming general elections, hold up posters to cheer for her during an election campaign event in Freiburg, southwestern Germany, on Sept. 18, 2017. (Patrick Seeger/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, top candidate for the conservative Christian Democratic Union party in the upcoming general elections, hold up posters to cheer for her during an election campaign event in Freiburg, southwestern Germany, on Sept. 18, 2017. (Patrick Seeger/AFP/Getty Images)

Germans are feeling good about their country ahead of a national election on Sept. 24 that will determine whether Chancellor Angela Merkel leads her nation for a fourth consecutive term. Unlike many of their fellow European Union members, Germans are satisfied with the state of the economy and are broadly positive toward the political establishment that has led the nation through the post-World War II era.

An overwhelming 86% of Germans believe their economy is doing well, up from 75% last year, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring. Views of the economy have been consistently positive since 2011, reflecting Germany’s quick recovery from the global financial crisis. By comparison, just 2% of Greeks, 15% of Italians, 21% of French and 28% of Spanish say their economies are doing well.

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Topics: Europe, Western Europe, Non-U.S. Political Leaders

Sep 18, 2017 2:06 pm

How the U.S. Hispanic population is changing

The Latino population in the United States has reached nearly 58 million in 2016 and has been the principal driver of U.S. demographic growth, accounting for half of national population growth since 2000. The Latino population itself has evolved during this time, with changes in immigration, education and other characteristics.

This summary draws on a statistical portrait of the nation’s Hispanic population, which includes trends going back to 1980. Here are some key facts about the nation’s Latino population.

The Hispanic population has reached a new high, but growth has slowed. In 2016, Hispanics accounted for 18% of the nation’s population and were the second-largest racial or ethnic group behind whites. (All racial groups are single race non-Hispanic.)

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Topics: Demographics, Race and Ethnicity, Generations and Age, Educational Attainment, Hispanic/Latino Demographics

Sep 18, 2017 7:02 am

Muslims more likely than Americans overall to say blacks lack equal rights in U.S.

Two-thirds of Muslims in the United States (67%) say the country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites, a higher percentage than the share of Americans in general who say this (57%).

Muslim Americans are also more likely than the general public to say there is a lot of discrimination against black people in the U.S. About seven-in-ten U.S. Muslims (71%) say this, compared with 59% of the overall population, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey.

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Topics: Race and Ethnicity, Muslims and Islam, Muslim Americans, Discrimination and Prejudice

Sep 15, 2017 12:00 pm

Proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution seldom go anywhere

U.S. politicians say they revere the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of ideas for changing it. Since 1999, 742 proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been introduced in the House or Senate, including 59 so far in the current Congress, according to our analysis ahead of Constitution Day on Sunday.

The proposals cover dozens of topics, from lengthening House terms (from two years to four) to prohibiting any future attempt to replace the U.S. dollar with a hypothetical global currency. But not one has become part of the Constitution. In fact, the last time a proposed amendment gained the necessary two-thirds support in both the House and Senate was 1978, when a measure 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.

Indeed, the vast majority of proposed amendments die quiet, little-mourned deaths in committees and subcommittees. Only 20 times since 1999 have proposed amendments even been voted on by the full House or Senate, according to our analysis of legislative data from the Library of Congress. The most recent instance was three years ago this month, when a campaign-finance amendment failed in the Senate on a procedural vote.

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Topics: Congress

Sep 15, 2017 10:33 am

Deep racial, partisan divisions in Americans’ views of police officers

While a large majority of Americans rate police officers positively on a 0-to-100 “feeling thermometer,” whites and blacks differ widely in their views, including among Democrats, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in August.

About two-thirds of the public (64%) give officers a warm rating on the scale (between 51 and 100), including 45% who rate them very warmly (76-100). Fewer give a neutral rating of 50 (16%), and just 18% give a cold rating on the scale (0-49).

But while a clear majority of whites give law enforcement warm ratings (74%), black and Hispanic views of police are more mixed.

Just three-in-ten black Americans (30%) express warm attitudes about police officers, while 28% offer a neutral rating. Another 38% give a cold rating, including 30% who give a very cold rating (24 or lower on the 0-100 scale).

Among Hispanics, 55% give police officers a warm rating, 25% give law enforcement a neutral rating and 17% have cold views.

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Topics: Work and Employment, U.S. Political Parties, Race and Ethnicity, Social Values, Political Polarization

Sep 14, 2017 1:33 pm

As U.S. marriage rate hovers at 50%, education gap in marital status widens

Half of U.S. adults today are married, a share that has remained relatively stable in recent years but is down 9 percentage points over the past quarter century and dramatically different from the peak of 72% in 1960, according to newly released census data.

The decline in the share of married adults can be explained in part by the fact that Americans are marrying later in life these days. In 2016, the median age for a first marriage was 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men – roughly seven years more than the median ages in 1960 (20.3 for women and 22.8 for men).

But delayed marriage may not explain all of the drop-off. The share of Americans who have never married has been rising steadily in recent decades. At the same time, more adults are living with a partner instead of marrying and raising children outside of marriage.

Marriage rates are also more closely linked to socio-economic status than ever before, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data that shows that the education gap in marital status has continued to widen.

In 2015, among adults ages 25 and older, 65% with a four-year college degree were married, compared with 55% of those with some college education and 50% among those with no education beyond high school. Twenty-five years earlier, the marriage rate was above 60% for each of these groups.

Marriage rates continue to vary widely by race and ethnicity. In 2015, 54% of white adults ages 18 and older were married. This is lower than the share of Asians who were married (61%) but significantly higher than the share of Hispanics (46%) or blacks (30%). The gap between whites and blacks has remained fairly consistent over time.

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Topics: Education, Lifestyle, Family and Relationships, Marriage and Divorce, Household and Family Structure

Sep 13, 2017 1:01 pm

About 6 in 10 young adults in U.S. primarily use online streaming to watch TV

The rise of online streaming services such as Netflix and HBO Go has dramatically altered the media habits of Americans, especially young adults.

About six-in-ten of those ages 18 to 29 (61%) say the primary way they watch television now is with streaming services on the internet, compared with 31% who say they mostly watch via a cable or satellite subscription and 5% who mainly watch with a digital antenna, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in August. Other age groups are less likely to use internet streaming services and are much more likely to cite cable TV as the primary way they watch television.

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Topics: Technology Adoption, Digital Media, News Media Trends, Social Media, Emerging Technology Impacts, Mobile

Sep 13, 2017 11:00 am

Republicans much ‘colder’ than Democrats in views of professors

Republicans have recently turned negative in their assessments of the impact of colleges and universities, and a new survey finds that they also have a skeptical view of college professors. More Republicans offer a cold than warm view of professors on a “feeling thermometer” scale ranging from 0 to 100, with an average rating of 46.

Democrats, by contrast, give professors a warm rating (71 on average), consistent with their positive view of the impact of colleges and universities.

The Pew Research Center survey, conducted on the American Trends Panel in August, asks the public to rate a number of groups on a “feeling thermometer” from 0 to 100, where 0 is the coldest, most negative rating and 100 is the warmest, most positive. Overall, about half of the public (49%) gives college professors at least a somewhat warm rating, including a third (33%) who rate professors very warmly. Fewer (24%) give professors a cold rating, while 26% have a neutral view of professors.

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Topics: Education, U.S. Political Parties, Political Party Affiliation, Educational Attainment, Political Polarization

Sep 11, 2017 9:00 am

About a fifth of Americans cite 9/11 response as event that made them most proud of U.S.

A firefighter stands outside the FDNY Engine 10, Ladder 10 station near the September 11 Memorial site in New York City on Sept. 11, 2016. Services were being held to remember the 2,977 people who were killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York, the Pentagon and rural Pennsylvania. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
A firefighter stands outside the FDNY Engine 10, Ladder 10 station near the September 11 Memorial site in New York City on Sept. 11, 2016. Services were being held to remember the 2,977 people who were killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York, the Pentagon and rural Pennsylvania. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

About one-in-five Americans cite the country’s response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as the time in their lives when they felt most proud of their country, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in summer 2016.

The survey, a collaboration between the Center and A+E Networks’ HISTORY, asked U.S. adults in an open-ended format to name the times or events during their lifetimes when they felt most proud of and most disappointed in the United States.

The most commonly cited moment of pride – volunteered by 19% of respondents – was the national response to the 9/11 attacks. Those who cited the 9/11 response offered a range of specific reasons for feeling proud, including the bravery of first responders and the way the nation united in the event’s aftermath, as well as the outpouring of sympathy for the victims of the attacks. (Other responses to the attacks, such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Osama bin Laden, were counted separately in the survey.)

Overall, the survey found that the Sept. 11 attacks united Americans in a way that few other historical events have. About three-quarters of Americans (76%) named the attacks as one of the 10 events in their lifetimes that had the greatest impact on the U.S., a far larger share than for any other event, including the tech revolution, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the moon landing. Regardless of gender, income or education level, or partisan affiliation, majorities of U.S. adults cited the 9/11 attacks among the 10 events that had the greatest impact on the country.

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Topics: Terrorism, National and Cultural Identity