Mar 30, 2016 2:00 pm

Prior to Lahore bombing, Pakistanis were critical of Taliban and other extremist groups

Photo credit: AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary
Pakistani women mourn for their family member who was killed in a suicide bombing. (Photo by AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

The bombing that took place on Easter Sunday in Lahore, Pakistan, was a devastating reminder that the scourge of terrorism is not confined to the recent headlines from the Middle East and Europe. Pakistan has dealt with multiple extremist insurgencies over the last couple of decades, with a variety of groups operating in the area, including the Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban (Pakistani Taliban or TTP) and most notoriously, al Qaeda and its former leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad in 2011.

Pakistanis critical of extremist groups, although many offer no opinionA Pew Research Center spring 2015 survey found that Pakistanis were extremely critical of these terrorist organizations and supported government action to fight extremists. And they were also much more confident in the ability of the Pakistani government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to tackle extremist groups than they were in 2014.

Overall, Pakistanis had a very negative view of the Taliban and the TTP. (The Lahore bombings were carried out by a TTP splinter group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, and the TTP were also perpetrators of a horrendous massacre in a public army school in Peshawar in late 2014.) In the survey last April, 72% had an unfavorable view of the Taliban umbrella group, while six-in-ten had negative opinions of TTP specifically. About half (53%) of Pakistanis viewed the Afghan Taliban negatively and 47% voiced dislike for al Qaeda. Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Foreign News, International Governments and Institutions, International Threats and Allies, Terrorism

Mar 30, 2016 11:15 am

6 facts about how Americans and Chinese see each other

Barack Obama and Xi Jinping
U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a press conference on Nov. 12, 2014, in Beijing. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Washington this week to participate in a major global summit on nuclear issues. Xi will also meet on Thursday afternoon with President Obama. The meeting comes at a time of ongoing tensions between the two countries. The U.S. and its Asian allies continue to express concerns about Beijing’s aggressive posture in the South China Sea. Washington would like to see Beijing put more pressure on North Korea to halt the development of its nuclear program. Xi’s crackdown on domestic dissent is drawing increasingly harsh criticism from many in the U.S. And Donald Trump and his competitors have made the economic challenge from China a major issue in the Republican presidential primary contest.

As Pew Research Center surveys have shown, many of these tensions are reflected in American public opinion. Meanwhile, the Chinese public has its own complaints about the U.S. – in particular, most believe the U.S. is trying to contain a rising China.

Here are six key findings about American public opinion toward China, and Chinese public opinion about the U.S.

Read More

Topics: China, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Global Balance of Power, International Governments and Institutions, International Threats and Allies, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism

Mar 30, 2016 10:00 am

Israeli Jews from the former Soviet Union are more secular, less religiously observant

Strong majority among former Soviet Union Jews oppose religious involvement in public lifeAfter the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Israel’s largest wave of Jewish immigrants arrived from Russia and other former Soviet republics. These immigrants, who have far outnumbered those from other countries since Israel achieved statehood, were able to come because of Israel’s Law of Return, which allows all Jews around the world to immigrate and receive immediate citizenship. Israeli Jews support this right virtually unanimously.

There have been several points in Israel’s modern history when waves of immigrants arrived from particular countries or regions. For example, the first wave – largely from Russia and Romania – arrived in the late 19th century, while another took place in the period leading up to World War II (1929-1939) and was mostly made up of German Jews escaping the Nazis. After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, rising tensions in the region spurred increased immigration by Sephardi Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. And in the 1980s and early 1990s, Israel airlifted thousands of Jews out of war-torn Ethiopia. Read More

Topics: Eastern Europe, Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Religion and Government, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Russia

Mar 28, 2016 2:00 pm

Changing a social media profile picture is one way to express support or solidarity

In the wake of attacks in Brussels and in Lahore, Pakistan, some social media users are changing their profile pictures to express solidarity with victims and the people of these countries. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become a common way for Americans to get news, but they also can provide a way for users to respond to it.

Paris attacks, LGBT rights are the most common reasons social media users changed their profile picturesA new Pew Research Center survey conducted in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation finds that 18% of U.S. social media users say they have changed their profile pictures to draw attention to an issue or event. Of those who changed their pictures, 42% did so because of the attacks in Paris, many of them applying a filter displaying the colors of the French flag. The survey was conducted Jan. 12 to Feb. 8, before the latest attacks in Belgium and Pakistan.

The other prominent example of social media users seeking to make a statement with their profile picture was over the LGBT rights issue, for which a rainbow-color filter was commonly used; 21% of those who changed their picture did so for this issue. Overall, 7% of all social media users changed their picture in the case of Paris and 4% for LGBT rights. In these two specific instances, Facebook provided a one-click tool to enable users to overlay the French flag and the rainbow filters over their profile pictures.

These two instances far outpaced any other single instance. The category “other social or policy issues” – abortion or gun control, for instance – was named by a combined 16% among those who changed their picture. All others registered in the single digits, such as disease awareness and research, other terrorist attacks or terrorism generally, elections, and other tragedies.  Read More

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Middle East and North Africa, News Interest, Political Attitudes and Values, Social Media, Terrorism, Western Europe

Mar 28, 2016 10:30 am

Views of NATO and its role are mixed in U.S., other member nations

Foreign policy and national security have been key elements of the debate for both the Republican and Democratic parties in this year’s U.S. presidential campaign. GOP front-runner Donald Trump recently added a twist when he suggested in a Washington Post interview that, while NATO is “a good thing to have,” changes are needed because the U.S. is doing “all of the lifting” and its allies need to do more. He cited in particular the handling of the face-off with Russia over Ukraine. In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, he called NATO “obsolete.”

FT_16.03.28_NATO_supportJust 49% of Americans had a favorable view of NATO in a Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2015, and those views have not changed much from previous years. Support includes 56% of Democrats but just 43% of the GOP. Notably, U.S. backing for the security alliance is the second lowest among eight NATO nations surveyed.

The NATO alliance commits each member to come to the collective defense of a member if it is attacked. During the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine last year, a majority of Americans (56%) were willing to fulfill this security commitment if Russia got into a serious military conflict with a NATO ally. But that finding masked a partisan divide: Nearly seven-in-ten Republicans (69%), but only 47% of Democrats, supported using force to aid a NATO ally attacked by Russia.  Read More

Topics: Europe, Foreign Affairs and Policy, National Security, Russia, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties, Wars and International Conflicts

Mar 24, 2016 11:00 am

Historic population losses continue across Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's population decline has become widespread in recent years

Population losses in Puerto Rico have accelerated in recent years, affecting every corner of the island and continuing the largest outmigration in more than 50 years, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released county-level Census Bureau data.

Puerto Rico's population has shrunk since 2000Among Puerto Rico’s counties that saw the largest population losses between 2010 and 2015 was San Juan, home to the island’s capital city and largest metro area. That county’s population declined by 40,000 people (-10%) to 355,000, by far the largest numeric drop of any county. Nine other counties saw population declines of at least 10% during this time.

Only one of the island’s counties, or municipios, saw a significant population increase between 2010 and 2015: Gurabo, in eastern Puerto Rico, grew by 1,900 people (4%) to 47,000.

Overall, the island’s population was an estimated 3.47 million in 2015, down 334,000 from 2000 – a 9% decline. Three-quarters of this population loss has taken place since 2010. Puerto Rico’s population declined by 7% from 2010 to 2015, compared with a 2% loss from 2000 to 2010.  Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Latin America, Population Trends, U.S. Census

Mar 24, 2016 9:30 am

A religious gender gap for Christians, but not for Muslims

Gender gap in worship service attendance differs between Muslim-majority and Christian-majority countries

One of the most striking findings in a new Pew Research Center analysis of survey and census data on gender and religion is that while Christian women are on the whole more religious than Christian men, Muslim women and Muslim men have similar levels of religious commitment. And when it comes to attendance at worship services, Muslim men are more active than Muslim women.

This assessment emerges from data collected in scores of predominantly Muslim and predominantly Christian countries comparing men and women on several key measures of religious commitment. For instance, Christian women report praying daily more frequently than Christian men by an overall average of 10 percentage points (61% vs. 51%) across 54 countries where data are available. In some countries, the gap is much bigger, ranging up to 25 percentage points in Greece. By contrast, Muslim women are about as likely as Muslim men to report praying daily as (72% vs. 71%) across 40 countries where data are available. Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Gender, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Mar 23, 2016 2:00 pm

Incentives – and pressures – for U.S. workers in a ‘knowledge economy’

As automation looms and more and more jobs are being shaped to accommodate the tech-saturated “knowledge economy,” 63% of full- and part-time workers say they have taken steps in the past 12 months to upgrade their skills and knowledge.

That is one of several key findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted last fall to understand people’s motives for learning, both in professional and personal contexts. The Center then held a series of related focus groups in December, drawing insights from those in the Baltimore, Atlanta and St. Louis metro regions.

Here are some of the key themes that came out of those conversations about learning, work and a changing economy.

The Great Recession led to soul-searching and skills re-evaluation. A number of participants talked about how they took stock of their skill set and employability after the economic collapse that began in 2007-08. As a result, many pursued job-related training. More than half (55%) of those who did so sought to learn, maintain or improve job skills:

[In 2008] I saw everything going on around me with co-workers, neighbors, friends and asked myself, “Who’s coming after me and my job? How long are my skills going to last?” …. I did some research that was pretty comforting, but I try to spend a little time every couple of months now reassessing my status.
– Mid-career professional, Atlanta region Read More

Topics: Educational Attainment, Emerging Technology Impacts, National Economy, Technology Adoption, Work and Employment

Mar 23, 2016 7:00 am

Q&A: Why are women generally more religious than men?

The much-debated question of whether women are more religious than men is the focus of Pew Research Center’s recently released report “The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World.” The study finds that women are generally – but not universally – more religious than men in several ways. Indeed, data collected for the study show that in some religions and some contexts, men are as, or even more, religious than women.

David Voas, head of the Department of Social Science at University College London
David Voas, professor and head of the Department of Social Science at University College London

Fact Tank discussed the report’s findings with David Voas, head of the Department of Social Science at University College London. A demographer and sociologist, Voas has written extensively about religion, spirituality and the transmission of beliefs and values from one generation to another.

What in your personal view are the most plausible explanations for the differences in religious commitment between men and women?

David Voas: Personally, I’m tempted to give the classic academic response that more research is needed. At the risk of seeming wishy-washy, I suspect that nature and nurture both play a part. Boys and girls are socialized differently and men and women are still channeled into different roles. When we look at the psychology of individual differences, though, particularly in personality, it’s not easy to attribute gender gaps in their entirety to social forces.  Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Gender, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society

Mar 22, 2016 1:01 pm

Women generally are more religious than men, but not everywhere

A new Pew Research Center analysis of international census and survey data finds that there is a religion gender gap: Women generally are more religious than men by several key measures of religious commitment, although this pattern is not universal and can vary by religious tradition.

Overall, women are more likely than men to be affiliated with a religious organization; women also pray more and are more inclined to say religion is “very important” in their lives. These findings come from survey data collected by Pew Research Center in up to 84 countries that compare men and women in several different aspects of religious commitment.

However, the report also finds that in some countries and faiths, men are more religious than women, at least by some measures. For instance, among Muslims and Orthodox Jews, men are more likely than women to attend worship services at least weekly, the new study finds.

Women are more likely than men to pray daily in many countries Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Gender, Jews and Judaism, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices