Oct 3, 2016 7:01 am

Americans are divided over which public bathrooms transgender people should use

As the visibility of transgender Americans has increased in recent years, it has been accompanied by a contentious political debate over the rights of the estimated 0.6% of U.S. adults who identify as transgender – in particular, which public restrooms they should legally be allowed to enter.

Earlier this year, North Carolina became the focus for much of this debate when it enacted a law prohibiting people from using public bathrooms that do not match their biological sex. The law has prompted a backlash from some businesses, large organizations and others, including the National Basketball Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It is currently being challenged in court by the Obama administration.

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Topics: Gender, Lifestyle, Religion and Society, Social Values

Sep 30, 2016 9:05 am

Hungarians share Europe’s embrace of democratic principles but are less tolerant of refugees, minorities

A combination of strong anti-refugee sentiment and above-average disdain for minority groups sets Hungary apart from many of its fellow European Union nations. But Hungarians and other Europeans widely agree on the importance of democratic values, despite what some see as Hungary’s slipping democracy under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Observers expect Hungarians to deliver a resounding “no” to accepting EU-mandated refugee quotas in a referendum Sunday. Through the course of a highly controversial campaign, Orbán has been criticized for referring to refugees as “poison” and supporting campaign ads linking refugees to terrorism. Such controversy has exacerbated tensions within the EU on Hungary’s adherence to European values of pluralism and liberal democracy.

Despite the country’s labor shortage, Hungarians overwhelmingly see refugees as an economic albatross, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted this spring. Roughly eight-in-ten believe refugees are a burden on their country because they take jobs and social benefits. Similarly, about three-quarters believe that refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism in Hungary, and about seven-in-ten see the large influx of refugees from countries like Syria and Iraq as a major threat. These figures are much higher in Hungary than in almost every other EU nation surveyed.  Read More

Topics: Country Image, Democracy, Eastern Europe, Europe, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Migration, Non-U.S. Political Leaders

Sep 30, 2016 7:02 am

6 facts about U.S. Mormons

Twice each year, in April and October, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds its General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. These conferences – which are open to all members of the LDS church and are broadcast around the world – offer Mormons an opportunity to hear their leaders speak on a host of topics.

As the next conference gets underway this weekend, here are six facts about U.S. Mormons from Pew Research Center surveys:

1The LDS church typically places very high importance on families and traditional gender roles. Indeed, 81% of Mormons say being a good parent is one of the most important things in life. And 73% say the same about having a successful marriage. By comparison, half of all U.S. adults say being a good parent is one of the most important things in life, and only one-third say having a successful marriage is of utmost importance. Additionally, 58% of Mormons say a marriage where the husband provides and the wife stays at home is preferable to one in which both spouses have jobs. Among the general public, most people (62%) express the opposite view, saying a marriage in which both spouses have jobs and take responsibility for housework and child rearing is more satisfying. At this fall’s pre-conference session specifically for Mormon women, participants were urged to defend the church’s teachings on marriage, family and sexuality.

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Topics: Household and Family Structure, Lifestyle, Mormons and Mormonism, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Sep 29, 2016 2:09 pm

Support for death penalty lowest in more than four decades

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear the first of two death penalty cases in this year’s term, the share of Americans who support the death penalty for people convicted of murder is now at its lowest point in more than four decades.

Only about half of Americans (49%) now favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 42% oppose it. Support has dropped 7 percentage points since March 2015, from 56%. Public support for capital punishment peaked in the mid-1990s, when eight-in-ten Americans (80% in 1994) favored the death penalty and fewer than two-in-ten were opposed (16%). Opposition to the death penalty is now the highest it has been since 1972.

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Topics: Death Penalty, Gender, Race and Ethnicity, Social Values, Supreme Court

Sep 29, 2016 9:30 am

Partisans disagree on news media’s best, worst traits

Americans are divided in what they consider the most positive and negative attribute of the news media, and much of that divide follows party lines: Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats stand far apart in their views of what the media do best and worst.

Conservative Republicans, for example, are more likely to say that reporting biased news is the most negative thing the media do, while liberal Democrats single out poor choices in the news they cover or how they cover it, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 12-Feb. 8, 2016, in association with the John S. and James L. Knight foundation.

The survey asked Americans to volunteer what they thought was the single most positive and negative thing the news media do.

As far as the most positive thing the media do, Americans are mostly split between two traits. Three-in-ten describe the media’s most positive attribute as simply doing their job of reporting the news, whether in general or on a specific topic. (Weather and traffic tops the list of subject areas, named by 11% of U.S. adults.)

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Topics: News Audience Trends and Attitudes, News Media Ethics and Practices, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation

Sep 28, 2016 10:04 am

Key findings about Americans’ views on religious liberty and nondiscrimination

Recent national debates over contraception, same-sex marriage and transgender rights have highlighted the growing tension between protecting religious liberty and guaranteeing nondiscrimination. Conflicts have arisen over whether religious business owners and others must provide contraception to their employees and, separately, whether they should be made to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples. Americans also are grappling with the question of which public restrooms transgender people should use.

A new Pew Research Center survey that focuses on these themes finds the public closely divided over some – though not all – of these issues. Here are five key takeaways from the new poll:

1Americans are evenly divided (49% to 48%) over whether wedding-related businesses, such as caterers and florists, should be required to serve same-sex couples who want to marry, even if the owner of these establishments objects to homosexuality for religious reasons. But views on this vary considerably based on frequency of religious service attendance. Among those who attend church weekly or more, support for requiring businesses to serve same-sex couples drops to 31%, while among those who do not attend regularly, it rises to 56%.

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Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Health, Health Care, Lifestyle, Marriage and Divorce, Religion and Society, Social Values

Sep 26, 2016 5:11 pm

From universities to churches, Republicans and Democrats differ in views of major institutions

At a time of growing partisan polarization, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided in their views of many issues and the opposing party. These differences extend to their opinions about the impact of many of the nation’s institutions, according to a Pew Research Center survey, and when it comes to the news media, this partisan gap is growing wider.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Education, National Conditions, U.S. Political Parties

Sep 26, 2016 12:15 pm

Among 41 nations, U.S. is the outlier when it comes to paid parental leave

In almost half of two-parent households, both parents now work full-time, and in 40% of all families with children, the mother is the sole or primary breadwinner. At the same time, fathers – virtually all of whom are in the labor force – are taking on more child care responsibilities, as fatherhood has grown to encompass far more than just bringing home the bacon.

Despite these transformations, the U.S. is the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The smallest amount of paid leave required in any of the other 40 nations is about two months.

In comparison, Estonia offers more than a year and a half of paid leave to new parents – by far the highest benefit mandated by any of the countries represented. A number of other countries – Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Austria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Norway and Slovakia – offer over a year’s worth of paid leave, as well.

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Topics: Family and Relationships, Family Roles, Gender, Household and Family Structure, Parenthood, Work and Employment

Sep 26, 2016 10:15 am

5 facts about the Supreme Court

James Peck of Springfield, Virginia, lays flowers down at a makeshift memorial for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Sunday February 14, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images
James Peck of Springfield, Virginia, places flowers at a makeshift memorial for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a day after Scalia’s death in February. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Supreme Court holds a unique place in American government. Sitting justices do not have set terms, and they can influence public policy long after the presidents who nominated them and the senators who confirmed them have departed. Partisans have often battled over these nominations because of the court’s ability to reshape or strike down laws favored by one side or another.

The politics surrounding court appointments has been apparent since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. President Obama nominated federal appellate court justice Merrick B. Garland to replace him, but Republicans in the Senate said they would not hold hearings or a vote on any nomination until after the next president was elected.

As the court’s new term gets underway, here are five facts on how Americans view the Supreme Court.

1Americans’ opinions of the court hit a 30-year low last year after controversial decisions, but have rebounded after a quieter term. In July 2015, 43% of Americans regarded the Supreme Court unfavorably – a 30-year high – while 48% had a positive opinion. At the time, views of the court were strongly linked to how Americans felt about the court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act and legalization of same-sex marriage. This year, with the court short a justice, there were fewer high-profile decisions, and Americans’ views of the court have improved. In August, 60% had a favorable view, while just 32% saw the court unfavorably, back in line with the generally positive opinions found before 2015.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Political Polarization, Supreme Court, U.S. Political Parties

Sep 26, 2016 7:00 am

Americans wary of using chip implants to boost brain power for the healthy

Thanks to scientific advancements, brain chip implants are already being tested in individuals to help them cope with an injury or ailment. But when it comes to the potential use of such implants to give an already healthy and capable person abilities that they do not currently have, Americans are more wary than enthusiastic.

Some 54% of U.S. adults foresee a future where computer chips will routinely be embedded in our bodies. But as with other kinds of potential human enhancements, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that more Americans are worried about the idea of an implanted brain chip (69%) than are enthusiastic (34%). And a minority of U.S. adults – 32% – would want this implanted device for themselves.

Several factors help explain people’s views about emerging technologies and their potential use to augment human abilities. Opinions about implanting devices often hinge on whether the effects would be permanent and irreversible. Asked specifically about the possibility that the effects of an implanted brain chip would be permanent, about half of U.S. adults (51%) say this would make the idea less acceptable to them.

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Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Health, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Science and Innovation, Technology Adoption