May 14, 2014 12:00 pm

5 key findings about student debt

Student debt is the only kind of household debt that continued to rise through the Great Recession, eclipsing credit card debt to become the second largest type of debt owed by American households, after mortgages. According to a new Pew Research report, a record 37% of young households had outstanding student loans in 2010, up from 22% in 2001 and 16% in 1989. The median student debt owed by these young households was $13,000. Here are 5 key findings about young households with student debt.

1 student debt income net worthCollege-educated households with student loans to repay have a lower net worth than those with no student debt. Young college-educated households with no student debt have the highest net worth by far. They have about seven times the net worth of households with student debt. Non-college educated households with outstanding student debt are in the worst position in terms of wealth accumulation. They lag behind their fellow student debtors who graduated from college, and they also trail young adults without a college degree who are free of student debt.

Read More

Topics: College, Economics and Personal Finances, Student Loans

May 14, 2014 7:00 am

More than a decade later, 9/11 attacks continue to resonate with Americans

911 Memorial Museum in New York City
911 Memorial Museum in New York City. Credit: Getty Images

The opening ceremonies on Thursday for the National September 11 Memorial Museum offers another opportunity to reflect on how the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon reshaped Americans’ views of themselves and their country. (The museum, located at the Ground Zero site in lower Manhattan, opens on May 15 to survivors of the attacks, family members of those killed, rescue and recovery workers and others closely connected to the attacks; it opens to the general public on May 21.)

The 9/11 attacks imprinted themselves on Americans’ psyches in a way few other events in living memory have. In an August 2011 Pew Research survey, 97% of Americans who were at least eight years old when the attacks happened said they remembered exactly where they were or what they were doing when they heard the news. The only event with that kind of recall was President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 (95%). Other notable events, from the 1969 moon landing to Osama bin Laden’s killing, ranked well behind. In a December 2009 poll, 53% of Americans picked the 9/11 attacks as the most important event of the previous decade.

Beyond the human toll — nearly 3,000 people died aboard the four hijacked airplanes, at the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon — the attacks struck deeply at Americans’ sense of security. In the 2011 poll, 75% of people reported that they’d been emotionally affected “a great deal” by 9/11, compared with 67% a year after the attacks; 61% said life in America had changed “in a major way” since the attacks, up from half who said that in 2002.

One thing that’s changed is Americans’ sense of whether another 9/11-style terror attack is possible. Almost a year after 9/11, 34% of people said terrorists had less ability to launch another major attack on the United States than before 9/11, compared with 22% who said they had greater ability and 39% who said it was about the same. As we continued asking that question over the years, those percentages have shifted up and down, but the trend has been toward greater concern: In November 2013, the most recent time we asked this question, 34% said terrorists’ ability to launch a major attack was now greater than it had been prior to 9/11, compared with 29% who said less and 36% who said it was about the same.

Topics: National Security, Terrorism

May 13, 2014 7:00 am

Census struggles to reach an accurate number on gay marriages

The Census Bureau now does not directly ask about same-sex marriage or partnerships on its surveys.
The census does not currently ask directly about same-sex marriage or partnerships.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in Washington, D.C., and 17 states (and Arkansas will join them, if a lower-court judge’s ruling last week is upheld). Now the federal government’s task is to produce an accurate count of same-sex married couples.

Acknowledging a “very serious problem” of flawed same-sex marriage data, the U.S. Census Bureau is testing new marriage and relationship questions on its surveys in hopes of producing more accurate numbers in the next few years. According to a presentation earlier this month, the bureau found problems with the data “much worse” than the agency expected. Read More

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, U.S. Census

May 12, 2014 6:00 pm

Key takeaways from the European Union survey

Support for the European Union may be rebounding just in time for the European Parliament elections, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. But, as voters head to the polls beginning May 22, publics across Europe overwhelmingly think that their voice is not heard in Brussels, home to the EU. And concern about immigration adds to the public’s disgruntlement.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the survey conducted in seven European Union member countries – France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom:  Read More

Topics: Europe, Immigration Attitudes, World Economies, World Elections

May 12, 2014 2:54 pm

What will become of America’s kids?

America's kids and their futuresBy nature, Americans are an optimistic lot. Despite their resolutely negative opinion of economic conditions, majorities have consistently said that next year things will get better. Indeed, a Pew Research Center in-depth analysis in 2013 for the Council on Foreign RelationsRenewing America initiative concluded that “despite the American people’s struggles with this extended period of economic difficulty, their core values and beliefs about economic opportunity, and the nation’s economic outlook, remain largely optimistic.”

Yet, the public has somewhat conflicted views about the economic prospects for the next generation. When asked about the future prospects of “children today,” Americans generally said that when today’s kids grow up, they would be worse off financially than their parents. Nearly two-in-three respondents expressed that view in a Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2013. It is an opinion that was shared by rich and poor, young and old, men and women. Similar if not greater pessimism was also apparent in 10 of 13 advanced nations polled by Pew Research’s Global Attitudes Project.

While this is a pretty glum judgment about what lies ahead for today’s children, Americans’ optimism resurfaces when people are asked about their own kids. In 2012, despite the hard times of recent years, a plurality (42%) said that their own children will be better off, and an additional 19% say their children will be at least as well off as they are. Just 28% percent thought their own children will be worse off than they are when they reach adulthood. Less affluent segments of the public, including women, the less well-educated, Latinos and African Americans were particularly more likely to think that their children will be better off financially than they have been. There is a partisan divide as well, with more Democrats than Republicans, and in particular, Tea Party members, expecting their children to be better off than they have been.  Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Generations and Age

May 12, 2014 9:41 am

The acquisition binge in local TV

The 5 biggest US TV station owners

Some analysts say the Aereo TV case now before the U.S. Supreme Court could have disastrous consequences for local TV stations if the justices allow the company to capture broadcast programming without paying content producers. The New York Times’ David Carr warned, that in one such scenario, “companies that own large groups of local stations like the Tribune Company and the Sinclair Broadcast Group would suddenly find themselves in possession of a much diminished collection of assets.”

If that potential threat looms, it hasn’t slowed these media companies from dramatically expanding their local television holdings in recent years. A decade ago, the number of stations owned by what are now the five largest local TV companies was 190. Today, that number is 464. In 2013, alone, about 300 full-power local TV stations changed hands, at a cost of more than $8 billion. That is 195 more stations sold than in 2012 and more than four times the dollar value of the deals made in 2012.

Read More

Topics: News Media Sectors, Television

May 9, 2014 10:32 am

Chart of the Week: Climate change is already here

Map of average temperature change in the U.S.

The National Climate Assessment, issued this week by a team of government researchers, minced no words about the impacts of climate change: You’re feeling them now.

Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” said the report. “Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours…Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides…Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the spring, last later into the fall, and burn more acreage.”

Read More

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: Energy and Environment

May 9, 2014 9:00 am

Obama job ratings higher than Bush, but pale next to Bill Clinton

Obama, Bush, Clinton Job Ratings During MidtermsRight after their re-elections, President Obama and George W. Bush both suffered through the first year of their second terms. Heading into this year’s midterm elections, Obama’s job approval rate may be nothing to brag about, but it is better than Bush’s was at this point in 2006 and Obama appears to be less of a drag on his party’s midterm prospects than Bush was.

Obama’s job approval rating stands at 44% while Bush’s was 35% at the same point in the 2006 midterm year, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted April 23-27. But Obama can look with some envy at where his Democratic predecessor — Bill Clinton — stood in his sixth year. Clinton’s approval rating was a solid 62%.  Read More

Topics: Election News, Presidential Approval

May 9, 2014 7:00 am

5 questions (and answers) about American moms today

Credit: Thanasis Zovoilis/Getty Images
Credit: Thanasis Zovoilis/Getty Images

American mothers today look far different from mothers celebrated 100 years ago when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a day of reverence for mothers. Here’s what we know about today’s American moms and how they’ve changed over time.

1Who are American moms?

marital status of mothers 1960 2012There are about 85 million mothers in America, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau estimate. Our analysis of census data shows that the share of mothers with kids younger than 18 at home has declined. Today, about a third (34%) of women ages 18-64 have young children at home; in 1960, 52% did. And women are having children at a later age than they used to. In 2012, the average age of a first-time mother was 25.8 years, up from 21.4 years in 1970.

The marital status of mothers has also changed dramatically. In 1960, nearly all mothers with young children were married, compared with just seven-in-ten today. About four-in-ten (41%) of all births today are to unmarried women; up from just 5% of births in 1960. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, Family Roles, Marriage and Divorce, Parenthood

May 8, 2014 12:34 pm

Hispanic Millennials are less religious than older U.S. Hispanics

Millennial adults in the United States – that is, Americans ages 18 and older but born after 1980 – are more “detached from institutions,” including traditional religion, than their elders, according to a Pew Research report released earlier this year. We’ve also known for a while that younger generations are less likely to affiliate with religious groups.

Hispanic Millennials mirror young American adults overall in their lower rates of religious affiliation and commitment compared with their older counterparts.Our new survey of U.S. Hispanics and religion enables us to take a more detailed look at whether the trend holds true among the country’s largest ethnic minority. And indeed, Hispanic Millennials mirror young American adults overall in their lower rates of religious affiliation and commitment compared with their older counterparts.

Similar shares of Hispanic Millennials (28%) and U.S. Millennials overall (31%) say they have no particular religion or are atheist or agnostic. By comparison, the percentages of Hispanic adults overall and American adults overall who are religiously unaffiliated are lower (18% of Hispanics, 20% of all U.S. adults).

Our new survey also finds lower levels of religious practice, by several measures, among Latino adults born since 1981. About three-in-ten (31%) say they attend religious services at least weekly, a percentage comparable to U.S. Millennials overall (29%) and lower than among Latinos overall (40%).

Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Identity, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated