Feb 9, 2015 7:00 am

The continuing decline of Europe’s Jewish population

Jewish Population in EuropeIt’s been seven decades since the end of the Holocaust, an event that decimated the Jewish population in Europe. In the years since then, the number of European Jews has continued to decline for a variety of reasons. And now, concerns over renewed anti-Semitism on the continent have prompted Jewish leaders to talk of a new “exodus” from the region.

There are still more than a million Jews living in Europe, according to 2010 Pew Research Center estimates. But that number has dropped significantly over the last several decades – most dramatically in Eastern Europe and the countries that make up the former Soviet Union, according to historical research by Sergio DellaPergola of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1939, there were 16.6 million Jews worldwide, and a majority of them – 9.5 million, or 57% – lived in Europe, according to DellaPergola’s estimates. By the end of World War II, in 1945, the Jewish population of Europe had shrunk to 3.8 million, or 35% of the world’s 11 million Jews. About 6 million European Jews were killed during the Holocaust, according to common estimates.

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Topics: Eastern Europe, Europe, Jews and Judaism, Religious Affiliation

Feb 6, 2015 10:29 am

Four signs of the improving U.S. jobs situation

The U.S. unemployment rate was little changed in January, ticking up to 5.7% even as 759,000 more people reported having jobs, according to Friday’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the unemployed are hardly a homogenous group, and why they’re unemployed, and how long they’ve been out of work, can be just as telling about the state of the economy as the headline-grabbing jobless rate.

Fortunately, the government keeps track of the major reasons people are unemployed. (Quick refresher: To be counted as unemployed, a person must not only be out of work, but be available for work and have actively searched for a job sometime in the previous four weeks. Together, the employed and unemployed make up the labor force. Jobless people who haven’t searched for work recently aren’t considered part of the labor force and aren’t included in the count of unemployed.) Read More

Topics: National Economy

Feb 5, 2015 11:22 am

Widespread concerns about extremism in Muslim nations, and little support for it

The horrific murder of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh has generated shock and outrage around the globe. And if recent history is a guide, this brutal act will only deepen opposition to ISIS, and to violent extremism more generally, in Jordan and other predominantly Muslim nations.

At the Pew Research Center, we’ve been asking questions related to extremism on our international surveys for over a decade, and what we’ve generally found among Muslim publics is that support for extremism is low, while concerns about it are high.

Concerns About Extremism in Middle EastEven before ISIS’s battlefield victories and humanitarian atrocities began capturing international headlines last summer, we found growing worries about extremism in the Middle East. For instance, 62% of Jordanians said they were concerned about Islamic extremism in their country in our spring 2014 poll, up from 54% a year earlier. There were also increases in Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey.

The survey also found mostly negative views toward al Qaeda and other extremist groups in these and many other predominantly Muslim countries. The most positive rating for al Qaeda was in the Palestinian territories, where 25% had a favorable view of the terrorist organization. Read More

Topics: Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam, Terrorism

Feb 5, 2015 8:55 am

5 key takeaways about how investigative reporters view their digital security

As journalism becomes an increasingly digital practice, the data and communications of investigative journalists have become vulnerable to hackers, government surveillance and legal threats. But what are these vulnerabilities – and what steps have investigative journalists taken to protect themselves?

Here are five takeaways based on a new Pew Research Center survey of 671 members of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), a nonprofit member organization for journalists:

1Journalists, Government Data CollectionAbout two-thirds (64%) believe that the U.S. government probably has collected data about their own phone calls, emails or online communications. This perception is especially prevalent among IRE journalists who cover national security, foreign affairs or the federal government. Fully 71% of this group say the government has likely collected this data. And eight-in-ten of all journalists surveyed express the belief that being a journalist increases the likelihood that their data will be collected by the U.S. government. Read More

Topics: Digital Media, News Media Ethics and Practices, News Media Trends, News Sources, Newspapers, Online Privacy and Safety

Feb 4, 2015 12:45 pm

America’s ‘middle’ holds its ground after the Great Recession

In the years following the Great Recession, the share of Americans who live in middle-income households held steady at 51% in 2013, the same share as in 2010, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

While the muddled recovery has yet to bolster the middle, this flat trend might actually be good news because, for now, it stems a decades-long slide. Back in 1970, 61% of adults lived in middle-income households. Read More

Topics: Income, Middle Class, National Economy, Race and Ethnicity

Feb 4, 2015 7:00 am

50 years later, Americans give thumbs-up to immigration law that changed the nation

Where Immigrants Came FromAs Washington once again engages in a heated political battle over immigration policy, it’s worth reminding ourselves just how much the country and its politics have changed since passage of the law that largely created today’s system.

Fifty years ago, the Immigration and Nationality Act dramatically changed the makeup of the country by ending a quota system based on national origins in favor of one that took into account occupational skills, relatives living in the U.S. and political-refugee status.

Despite the long-term impact of the 1965 law and the highly partisan tone the issue has taken on today, immigration was not highly divisive a half-century ago, and the American public paid it little heed. Of course, a lot was going on in 1965 to occupy the public’s attention – Vietnam and civil rights, to name just two mega-issues.

Nonetheless, Gallup polls that year found less than 1% of the public naming immigration as the most important problem facing the nation. And, by the end of 1965, the Harris poll found just 3% naming immigration revision as the legislation most important to them. (Back then, Medicare legislation was cited most often – by 28%.) Read More

Topics: Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Immigration Trends, Migration, Unauthorized Immigration

Feb 3, 2015 2:24 pm

NASA popularity still sky-high

NASA continues to be very popular among the public, with four times as many Americans holding a favorable view of the space agency as unfavorable (68% vs. 17%). In contrast with many other departments and agencies of the federal government, Republicans and Democrats generally have the same positive view.

NASA rated at the top of a list of eight government agencies along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a Pew Research Center survey last month.

Americans Like NASAHighly educated Americans have an especially positive view of NASA. Nearly eight-in-ten (78%) of those with a graduate degree view the agency favorably, while just 11% view it unfavorably. Among those with no more than a high school education, 61% have a favorable impression of NASA and 21% view the agency unfavorably. Majorities of independents (70%), Democrats (68%) and Republicans (63%) have favorable opinions of NASA.

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Topics: Federal Government, Government Spending and the Deficit, Science and Innovation

Feb 3, 2015 7:00 am

Social media preferences vary by race and ethnicity

Latinos, blacks and whites use social media networks about equally, but there are some differences in their preferences for specific social media sites. For example, Instagram is more popular among Latinos while Pinterest is more popular among whites, according to a late 2014 Pew Research Center survey.

Today, about eight-in-ten Latino, black and white adults who are online use at least one of five social media sites – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter. Among these, Facebook stands out as the most widely used platform, regardless of race or ethnicity: About seven-in-ten adult internet users (71%) say they use the site. Read More

Topics: African Americans, Internet Activities, Race and Ethnicity, Social Media, Social Networking

Feb 2, 2015 11:59 am

Young adults more likely to say vaccinating kids should be a parental choice

Vaccines Public OpinionAs the number of measles cases linked to the California outbreak climbs to over 100, health officials are urging parents to properly immunize their children, citing unvaccinated individuals as a main contributor to the disease’s spread. Some have linked the outbreak to the anti-vaccination movement – a group whose members claim vaccinations are unsafe and ineffective.

A Pew Research Center report released last week shows that a majority of Americans say children should be required to get vaccinated. Further analysis of the survey data reveals significant age differences in views about vaccines. In 2009, by contrast, opinions about vaccines were roughly the same across age groups. Also, some modest partisan divisions have emerged since 2009, when Pew Research last polled on the issue.

Overall, 68% of U.S. adults say childhood vaccinations should be required, while 30% say parents should be able to decide. Among all age groups, young adults are more likely to say vaccinating children should be a parental choice. Some 41% of 18- to 29-year-olds say parents should be able to decide whether or not their child gets vaccinated; only 20% of adults 65 or older echo this opinion. Read More

Topics: Health, Science and Innovation

Feb 2, 2015 7:00 am

U.S. students improving – slowly – in math and science, but still lagging internationally

Scientists and the general public have markedly different views on any number of topics, from evolution to climate change to genetically modified foods. But one thing both groups agree on is that science and math education in the U.S. leaves much to be desired.

In a new Pew Research Center report, only 29% of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM) as above average or the best in the world. Scientists were even more critical: A companion survey of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that just 16% called U.S. K-12 STEM education the best or above average; 46%, in contrast, said K-12 STEM in the U.S. was below average.

Standardized test results appear to largely bear out those perceptions. While U.S. students are scoring higher on national math assessments than they did two decades ago (data from science tests are sketchier), they still rank around the middle of the pack in international comparisons, and behind many other advanced industrial nations. Read More

Topics: Educational Attainment, Science and Innovation