Apr 28, 2017 11:30 am

Sub-Saharan Africa experienced largest increase in religious restrictions in 2015

While sub-Saharan Africa had fewer religious restrictions in 2015 than many other parts of the world, it experienced a larger increase that year than any other region, according to a recent Pew Research Center report that tracks these restrictions by both governments and private individuals and groups. Attacks by the Nigeria-based extremist group Boko Haram, along with subsequent government reactions to those incidents, played a role in this increase.

Government harassment of religious groups was reported in a total of 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (77%) in 2015, increasing from 25 countries (52%) the year before, and was at the highest level recorded for the region since 2007 – the first year for which data are available. Some of the government harassment included bans on religious attire tied to an increase in terrorist activity. For instance, in West Africa, the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Republic of the Congo banned wearing various forms of Islamic veils in public after Boko Haram suicide bombers used such veils to hide explosives.  Read More

Topics: Religion and Society, Religion and Government, Sub-Saharan Africa, Religious Affiliation, Restrictions on Religion

Apr 27, 2017 4:02 pm

Key facts about the U.S. H-1B visa program

President Donald Trump has ordered a comprehensive review of the H-1B visa program, the primary way that companies in the United States hire high-skilled foreign workers. The multiagency review is expected to result in suggested changes to ensure that the most skilled and highest-paid applicants receive H-1B visas. Though the order may be the first step in an overhaul of the program, only a handful of changes have been made for now to the way H-1B visas are awarded.

Almost 1.8 million H-1B visas have been distributed in fiscal years 2001 through 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The program, created by the Immigration Act of 1990, allows employers to hire foreigners to work on a temporary basis in jobs that require highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Visas are awarded to employers on a first-come, first-served basis, with applications accepted each year beginning in April. If the number of applications exceeds an annual cap set by Congress during the first five business days of April, visas are awarded through a lottery system.

Here are some key facts about the current H-1B visa program.

1Since 2005, H-1B visas have been capped at 65,000 a year, plus an additional 20,000 visas for foreigners with a graduate degree from a U.S. academic institution. Congress sets the annual cap, which has varied from a low of 65,000 (first set in fiscal 1990) to a high of 195,000 in 2002 and 2003. Currently, employers submit applications and pay between $1,710 and $6,460 in fees for each visa, depending on the employer’s size – a portion of which funds the National Science Foundation and the retraining of American workers through the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

Read More

Topics: Education, Immigration, Work and Employment, Immigration Trends, Migration, Asian Americans

Apr 27, 2017 2:09 pm

5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S.

For the first time, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. was lower in 2015 than it was at the end of the Great Recession in 2009. The origin countries of unauthorized immigrants also shifted during that time, with the number from Mexico declining and the number from other regions rising, according to the latest Pew Research Center estimates.

Here are five facts about the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S.

1There were 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2015, a small but statistically significant decline from the Center’s estimate of 11.3 million for 2009.

The Center’s preliminary estimate of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2016 is 11.3 million, which is statistically no different from the 2009 or 2015 estimates because it is based on a data source with a smaller sample size and larger margin of error. Unauthorized immigrants represented 3.4% of the total U.S. population in 2015. The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.  Read More

Topics: Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration, Immigration Trends, Migration, Hispanic/Latino Demographics

Apr 27, 2017 12:05 pm

10 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2017

(John Stillwell/PA Images via Getty Images)
(John Stillwell/PA Images via Getty Images)

As demographers convene in Chicago for the Population Association of America’s annual meeting, here is a look at 10 of Pew Research Center’s recent findings on demographic trends, ranging from global refugee and migrant flows to changes to family life and living arrangements. They show how demographic forces are driving population change and reshaping the lives of people around the world.

1Millennials are the United States’ largest living generation. In 2016, there were an estimated 79.8 million Millennials (ages 18 to 35 in that year) compared with 74.1 million Baby Boomers (ages 52 to 70). The Millennial population is expected to continue growing until 2036 as a result of immigration.

By some measures, Millennials have very different lives than earlier generations did when they were young. They’re slow to adopt many of the traditional markers of adulthood. For the first time in more than 130 years, young adults are more likely to be living in their parents’ home than in any other living arrangement. In fact, a larger share of them are living with their parents than with a romantic partner – marking a significant historical shift. More broadly, young adult geographic mobility is at its lowest level in 50 years, even though today’s young adults are less likely than previous generations of young adults to be married, to own a home or to be parents, all of which are traditional obstacles to moving.

Read More

Topics: Immigration, Religion and Society, Western Europe, Demographics, Work and Employment, Income, Immigration Trends, Generations and Age, Population Trends, Birth Rate and Fertility, Migration, Population Projections

Apr 27, 2017 10:05 am

Q&A: Using Google search data to study public interest in the Flint water crisis

How did Americans use Google to learn about the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, and how did their online searches evolve over time? These questions are at the center of a new Pew Research Center study that analyzes 18 months’ worth of Google search data to track public interest in the multilayered crisis in Flint.

Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research, Pew Research Center

While the study focuses on one particular news event, it sheds light on broader research questions, most prominently what aggregated internet search queries can tell us about how news spreads in today’s digital news environment. Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research at Pew Research Center, helped author the study; what follows is an edited interview with Mitchell about the methodology of the report.

Why did you focus on the Flint water crisis?

Although our research interests are broad, we felt using a case study would allow us to deeply examine the nuances of public interest in a news topic as the story unfolds. We wanted a story with many unique internet search keywords, as well as a precise geographic area, both of which tend to allow for more accurate tracking of internet search activity. We also hoped to have a news story that people could connect with at many levels. The Flint case meets these criteria. There are many search keywords that are specific to the Flint crisis. It also had a long timeline, evolved from a local issue to a national one and became a story with impact at the personal, community and political levels.

Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Community Media, Digital Media, News Media Trends, Information Seeking, Online Search

Apr 26, 2017 11:13 am

Are you middle class in Western Europe? Try our country-by-country income calculators

The share of adults in the middle class varies considerably across Western Europe, according to a new Pew Research Center report. In 2010, the share was near 80% in Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway – the highest of the 11 Western European countries evaluated – and as low as 64% in Spain.

As part of the study, the Center designed income calculators to help you determine where you fit on the income ladder in Western Europe. To access a calculator, click on the graphic below and select your home country or country of interest.

Read More

Topics: Europe, Western Europe, Economics and Personal Finances, Income, Economic Recession, World Economies, Socioeconomic Class, Income Inequality, Middle Class

Apr 26, 2017 9:32 am

Among white evangelicals, regular churchgoers are the most supportive of Trump

White evangelicals overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election and were a key part of his constituency. As his presidency nears the 100-day mark, surveys conducted since Trump’s inauguration tell a similar story.

Three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center surveys conducted in February and April. This is nearly twice as high as the president’s approval rating with the general public (39%).

Trump’s support from evangelicals is strongest among those who attend church regularly. Eight-in-ten white evangelical Protestants who attend church at least once a month approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, including 67% who strongly approve of his job performance. White evangelical Protestants who attend church more sporadically approve of Trump’s job performance at a nearly comparable rate (71%), but they are significantly less likely than churchgoing evangelicals to strongly approve (54%).  Read More

Topics: U.S. Political Parties, Religion and U.S. Politics, Religious Affiliation, Christians and Christianity, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Donald Trump

Apr 25, 2017 11:00 am

As Mexican share declined, U.S. unauthorized immigrant population fell in 2015 below recession level

The number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in 2015 fell below the total at the end of the Great Recession for the first time, with Mexicans continuing to represent a declining share of this population, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on government data.

There were 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2015, a small but statistically significant decline from the Center’s estimate of 11.3 million for 2009, the last year of the Great Recession. The Center’s preliminary estimate of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2016 is 11.3 million, which is statistically no different from the 2009 or 2015 estimates and comes from a different data source with a smaller sample size and a larger margin of error. This more recent preliminary data for 2016 are inconclusive as to whether the total unauthorized immigrant population continued to decrease, held steady or increased.

Unauthorized immigrants include those who enter the country without legal permission and those who overstay their legal visas. Declines in the number of unauthorized immigrants occur when people are deported, leave voluntarily, convert to lawful status or, in a small number of cases, die.  Read More

Topics: Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration, Immigration Trends, Population Trends, Migration, Asian Americans

Apr 25, 2017 6:55 am

Support for free trade agreements rebounds modestly, but wide partisan differences remain

Americans’ support for free trade agreements, which fell sharply during the 2016 presidential campaign, has rebounded modestly. The partisan gap in views of trade agreements remains substantial, with Republicans far more likely than Democrats to have a skeptical view of these agreements.

Currently, 52% say free trade agreements between the United States and other countries are a good thing for the U.S., while 40% view them as a bad thing, according to a recent survey by Pew Research Center. In October, during the campaign’s final weeks, just 45% expressed positive opinions of free trade agreements. Current views of free trade remain less positive than they were in May 2015, when 58% said these agreements were good for the U.S.

Americans’ views of how free trade agreements have affected their families’ finances have shown less change in recent years. Today, 44% say free trade agreements have definitely or probably helped their financial situation, while 38% say they have definitely or probably hurt their finances.

These overall views have changed only modestly since 2015. Views of the personal financial impact of trade agreements were more negative during the Great Recession and its aftermath. In November 2010, for instance, only about a quarter (26%) said trade agreements had helped their finances, while 46% said these agreements had hurt their finances.  Read More

Topics: Globalization and Trade, U.S. Political Parties, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Political Polarization

Apr 24, 2017 5:07 pm

7 key findings on the state of the middle class in Western Europe

The fortunes of the middle classes across Western Europe are moving in different directions. Some nations are experiencing both growing incomes and expanding middle classes, while other nations are witness to stagnant or declining incomes and shrinking middle classes, a new Pew Research Center analysis of 11 Western European countries has found. But in a few other countries studied, the middle-class shares are decreasing even as incomes overall are rising.

Interactives: Are you middle class in Western Europe?
Try our income calculators

For the analysis – which covers the period from 1991 to 2010 and includes comparisons with changes in the United States – “middle-class” or “middle-income” adults in a country are those who live in households with disposable (after-tax) incomes ranging from two-thirds to double the country’s median disposable household income. Thus, the income it takes to be middle class varies across countries. Also, estimates in the new report will not match those in the Center’s previous reports, which were based on a household’s gross (pretax) income.

Here are seven key findings in the new report:

1Among Western Europe’s six largest economies, the shares of adults living in middle-income households increased in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but they shrank in Germany, Italy and Spain. From 1991 to 2010, the middle-class share in the UK increased from 61% to 67%, but it decreased from 78% to 72% in Germany. Among the 11 Western European countries examined, the expansion in the UK was second only to the increase in Ireland, where the share increased from 60% in 1991 to 69% in 2010. The decrease in Germany was the second largest after Finland, where the middle-class share fell from 82% to 75% over the same period. Overall, the middle-class share of the adult population fell in seven of the 11 Western European countries examined, mirroring the long-term shrinking of the middle class in the U.S.  Read More

Topics: Europe, Western Europe, Economics and Personal Finances, Income, Economic Recession, Socioeconomic Class, Income Inequality, Middle Class