Mar 12, 2015 1:59 pm

How do Americans stand out from the rest of the world?

Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville (Theodore Chasseriau/Wikimedia Commons)

The differences between America and other nations have long been a subject of fascination and study for social scientists, dating back to Alexis de Tocqueville, the early 19th century French political thinker who described the United States as “exceptional.”

Nearly 200 years later, Americans’ emphasis on individualism and work ethic stands out in surveys of people around the world. When Pew Research Center surveyed people in 44 countries last spring, 57% of Americans disagreed with the statement “Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,” a higher percentage than most other nations and far above the global median of 38%. Read More

Topics: Religion and Society, Social Values

Mar 11, 2015 7:00 am

Jobs situation looks brighter as employers seek to fill more positions

Since Recession's End, Fewer Unemployed and More Job Openings

While two-thirds of Americans see at least some improvement in the jobs situation from the depths of the Great Recession, most (60%) say the jobs recovery has been only partial, according to a Pew Research Center report earlier this month. But by at least one measure – the number of unemployed people per job opening – things are just about back to normal.

In January, there were 1.8 unemployed people per open position, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (or JOLTS) and jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that may sound disheartening, it’s actually well within pre-recession norms: Between January 2005 and December 2007, the number of unemployed people per opening varied between 1.45 and 2.17, and averaged 1.68 over the entire three-year period. Read More

Topics: Economic Recession, National Economy, Work and Employment

Mar 10, 2015 7:00 am

Despite progress, women still bear heavier load than men in balancing work and family

The challenge women have long faced in balancing work and family is receiving renewed public attention, with Hillary Clinton highlighting the issue when she talked about her experiences as a young lawyer and mother at a recent appearance in Silicon Valley.

Working Mothers and Career AdvancementWomen continue to bear a heavier burden when it comes to balancing work and family, despite progress in recent decades to bring about gender equality in the workplace. A 2013 Pew Research Center survey found that, among parents with at least some work experience, mothers with children under age 18 were about three times as likely as fathers to say that being a working parent made it harder for them to advance in their job or career (51% vs. 16%).

Analysis of government economic data suggests that most young female workers start their careers at near parity with men in wages. However, the analysis found, women struggle to keep pace with men on this measure as they begin to juggle work and family life. Read More

Topics: Gender, Work and Employment

Mar 9, 2015 7:00 am

U.S. immigrant population projected to rise, even as share falls among Hispanics, Asians

Foreign-Born Share of Population to Reach Historic High by 2060The nation’s foreign-born population is projected to reach 78 million by 2060, making up 18.8% of the total U.S. population, according to new Census Bureau population projections. That would be a new record for the foreign-born share, with the bureau projecting that the previous record high of 14.8% in 1890 will be passed as soon as 2025.

Yet while Asian and Hispanic immigrants are projected to continue to be the main sources of U.S. immigrant population growth, the new projections show that the share of the foreign born is expected to fall among these two groups. Today, 66.0% of U.S. Asians are immigrants, but that share is predicted to fall to 55.4% by 2060. And while about a third of U.S. Hispanics (34.9%) are now foreign-born, the Census Bureau projects that this share too will fall, to 27.4% in 2060. These declines are due to the growing importance of births as drivers of each group’s population growth. Already, for Hispanics, U.S. births drive 78% of population growth. Read More

Topics: Asian Americans, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Population Projections, Race and Ethnicity, U.S. Census

Mar 6, 2015 1:52 pm

Americans are still divided on why people are gay

Potential Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson made news earlier this week when he said that being gay is a “choice,” but when it comes to public opinion, polls show that Americans remain divided over whether “nature” or “nurture” is ultimately responsible for sexual orientation.

Four-in-ten Americans (42%) said that being gay or lesbian is “just the way some choose to live,” while a similar share (41%) said that “people are born gay or lesbian,” according to the most recent Pew Research Center poll on the issue, conducted in 2013.

Fewer U.S. adults (8%) said that people are gay or lesbian due to their upbringing, while another one-in-ten (9%) said they didn’t know or declined to give a response.

Americans With College Degrees More Likely to Say Gays, Lesbians Born That WayPeople with the most education are the most likely to say that gays and lesbians were born that way. Indeed, 58% of Americans with a postgraduate degree say that people are born gay or lesbian, compared with just 35% of those with a high school diploma or less. Read More

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Mar 5, 2015 9:00 am

5 key takeaways about local news media ‘ecosystems’

At a time of tumultuous change for the media, what is the role of local news in U.S. communities?

Daily Paper is Prime Source of Local NewsToday, the Pew Research Center released a new report examining the local news environment in three U.S. metropolitan areas of different population size and demographic makeup: Denver, Macon, Ga., and Sioux City, Iowa. Here are five key takeaways based on the report, which incorporates data from surveys, analysis of media content, an audit of local news providers and social media analysis.

1Local news matters to local residents. About nine-in-ten residents in each city said they followed news about their local area at least somewhat closely, while about eight-in-ten said the same about neighborhood news. This is true in Denver, where researchers found 143 sources of news and information, but it’s also true in Macon, with 24 sources, and Sioux City, with 31 sources.

Read More

Topics: News Content Analysis, News Media Sectors, News Sources, Social Media

Mar 5, 2015 7:00 am

50 years ago: Mixed views about civil rights but support for Selma demonstrators

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Selma to Montgomery March
Martin Luther King Jr. arrives in Montgomery, Ala., on March 25, 1965, at the culmination of the Selma to Montgomery march. With him are (from left) Ralph Bunche, Coretta Scott King, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Hosea Williams. (Photo by Morton Broffman/Getty Images)

When civil rights activists led a bloody protest march in Selma, Ala., on March 7, 1965, that is credited with helping to assure passage of the Voting Rights Act that year, civil rights was a top issue for the American public, but opinions about it were very mixed. Even so, America’s verdict on Selma was clear. In all, the protesters staged three marches that month, and polling showed the public clearly siding with the demonstrators, not with the state of Alabama.

A nationwide Gallup poll in February 1965 found 26% of Americans citing civil rights as a problem facing the nation, second only to the expanding war in Vietnam (cited by 29%). There was broad-based support for the war at this early stage in its history, but views about civil rights and integration were clearly mixed. Read More

Topics: African Americans, Race and Ethnicity, Voter Demographics

Mar 5, 2015 12:01 am

Q/A: How Pew Research analyzed local media ‘ecosystems’

Amy Mitchell, Director of Journalism Research, Pew Research Center

As digital technology becomes an increasingly common part of Americans’ lives, the news media is in a time of transition. Though much has been written on how this transition impacts national media outlets, its impact on local news – where most Americans get their news about government and politics – is far less commonly studied.

Pew Research Center’s new report on local news in a digital age looks at both the organizations providing the news and the residents consuming it. To do so, we focused on three cities of varying size and demographics – Denver, Macon, Ga., and Sioux City, Iowa – and analyzed the local news environment in each. We conducted a representative survey of the residents in each city, and our researchers performed an “audit” of the local news ecosystem, identifying every possible source of news and information in the community, from daily newspapers to government officials to community listservs. For each source that put out original local content at least once a week, we analyzed the local information they generated over five days, whether in legacy forms (such as print or broadcast) or online. (For complete details, see the report’s methodology section.)

Amy Mitchell, the center’s director of journalism research, discussed how we conducted this unique research. Read More

Topics: News Content Analysis, News Media Sectors, News Sources, Research Methodology

Mar 4, 2015 7:00 am

Opinions on Obamacare remain divided along party lines as Supreme Court hears new challenge

Views of Health Care Law, 2010-2015After clearing a major legal hurdle with the Supreme Court three years ago, the Affordable Care Act faces another high court battle this week that could deal a major blow to the law. This time, the question is whether four words – “established by the state” – are enough to invalidate a vital part of the health care law.

About five years after President Barack Obama’s signature health care law passed, more than 11 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the program. And public opinion has remained steady: A greater share disapproves (53%) than approves (45%) of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 18-22. As was the case even before the original bill came up for a vote in Congress, public opinion regarding the program continues to fall along party lines, with nearly nine-in-ten Republicans (87%) against the 2010 health care law and roughly eight-in-ten Democrats (78%) in support of it. Independents disapprove of the ACA by a margin of 58%-39%. Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Health Care, U.S. Political Parties

Mar 3, 2015 1:00 pm

Opinions on expanding access to experimental drugs differ by race, income

A majority of Americans support greater access to experimental drugs before clinical trials have been completed, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. But there are notable differences in opinion on this issue by income, education and race.

Generally, adults from higher-income households and college degree earners are more likely than others to favor greater availability of investigative medical treatments. And, when it comes to different racial groups, African-Americans are significantly less supportive of the idea than whites and Hispanics.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced a more streamlined process for doctors to obtain experimental drugs for seriously ill patients. The proposed changes are expected to speed up the application process and get investigative treatments to patients more quickly and efficiently.

The new FDA guidelines come after five states – Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri – passed legislation in 2014 that would give terminally ill patients greater access to medical treatments that have not been fully evaluated by the FDA. At least 25 other states have filed similar “right to try” laws in the past year, and just last week, Virginia lawmakers unanimously passed legislation seeking to expand patients’ access to investigative experimental drugs. Read More

Topics: Health Care, Income, Race and Ethnicity, Science and Innovation