Feb 18, 2014 9:00 am

In an historic move, Census Bureau tries electronic outreach

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Credit: © Bettmann/CORBIS. A Census taker obtains the necessary data from a woman in New York City on April 2, 1930.

The U.S. Census Bureau will survey Americans this year in a way that’s unlike any other in its history. After centuries of using the postal service and in-person visits, the agency will contact people by email or text, pushing them to respond online. And if people do not respond, they might be counted using information from a government or commercial database.

The unusual approach, which might begin as early as this summer, aims to target 192,500 households in Washington, D.C., and suburban Montgomery County, and is an experiment to test ways of conducting the 2020 Census. Faced with rising costs and increasingly hard-to-reach respondents, the bureau has promised fundamental change to the paper-based census model that has prevailed since the time when horse and buggy was the primary mode of transportation. Read More

Topics: U.S. Census

Feb 18, 2014 7:00 am

Which developing nation leads on mobile payments? Kenya

56%

A majority of Kenyans make or receive payments using cell phones.

Kenya is on the forefront of a banking revolution; a majority of Kenyans (56%) make or receive payments using cell phones. The number of Kenyans engaged in this activity is higher than any of the other 24 countries surveyed in our spring 2013 survey. In fact, only in neighboring Uganda do even a plurality of people say they use their cell phones for mobile banking transactions.KenyaMobile

Kenya’s embrace of mobile money management appears to surpass the U.S. Although we have not polled specifically about mobile payments, our most recent figures show that 35% of American cell owners do mobile banking and 61% of online Americans do banking online.

The remarkable rise of mobile money transfer in Kenya is due in part to something called the M-Pesa service, which was introduced in Kenya in 2007 by Vodaphone and its affiliate Safaricom. M-Pesa (which literally means “mobile money”) allows users to transfer payments of up to $500 from mobile phones with a small, flat, per-transaction fee. It is now estimated that 24.8 million subscribers use mobile money transfer services, like M-PESA, in Kenya. And as the World Banks notes, “the affordability of the service has been key in opening the door to formal financial services for Kenya’s poor.”KenyaMobileMoney

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Mobile

Feb 14, 2014 3:34 pm

As U.S. role in Afghanistan nears an end, more Americans see failure than success

52%

About half of Americans say the U.S. has mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.

The ongoing rift between the U.S. and Afghan President Hamid Karzai — apparent again this week when Karzai ordered the release of detainees accused of attacking American forces —and fears about the Afghan army being able to hold its own against the Taliban have helped frame the question: Did the U.S. achieve its goals in that country after fighting a long and costly war?

The answer from Americans is mostly “no.” About half (52%) said the U.S. had mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan compared with 38% who said it had mostly succeeded, according to a Pew Research Center/USA TODAY survey conducted in January. There’s relatively little partisan difference on the question: 52% of Republicans, 48% of Democrats and 54% of independents say the U.S. had mostly failed to achieve its goals.

Shortly after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the public had more confidence that the U.S. effort was on the right path: A June 2011 survey found that 58% said they thought the U.S. would achieve its goals.

Despite the negative view of the outcome, 51% of Americans in the latest poll said using military force in Afghanistan was the right decision — a decision taken after the Taliban refused to turn over al-Qaeda leaders behind the 9/11 attacks. About four-in-ten (41%) said it was the wrong decision. But that support level represents a decline from 2006, when 69% said military intervention was the right decision.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Terrorism, Wars and International Conflicts

Feb 14, 2014 2:43 pm

5 facts about love and marriage

LoveandMarriage11Love remains Americans’ top reason to marry. (Phew.) In a Pew Research Center survey conducted last year, 88% of Americans cited love as a “very important” reason to get married, ahead of making a lifelong commitment (81%) and companionship (76%). Contrary to generations of grandmothers’ advice that “It’s just as easy to love a rich person as a poor person,” only 28% of U.S. adults said financial stability was a very important reason to marry (though 48% said it was “somewhat important”).

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Feb 14, 2014 1:37 pm

Chart of the Week: A long history of cable consolidation

cable

The proposed $45 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable would unite the two largest U.S. cable-television and broadband internet providers, and — as this Wall Street Journal chart  nicely illustrates  – continue a decades-long consolidation trend in cable.

For several decades, when the main competition was broadcast television (and, sometimes, local satellite-TV companies), cable providers were largely local and regional operations. But in recent years, as subscriber rates plateaued, new competitors emerged (DirecTV, Verizon, Netflix) and costly new digital technology became necessary to stay relevant, the largest players began rolling up the smaller ones. The goal wasn’t so much to eliminate competition (thanks to local franchise agreements, cable operators typically don’t compete against one another) as to achieve economies of scale and bargaining power — especially with content producers.

Should the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal go through, the combined company would have some 33 million subscribers, though Comcast has said it’s willing to divest up to 3 million of its customers to win regulatory approval. Though it would be by far the biggest cable and broadband company, traditional cable subscriber numbers have been falling as viewers turn to companies like Netflix and Hulu. Much of the regulatory scrutiny, in fact, likely will be aimed at the companies’ internet business.

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: Internet Activities, Television

Feb 14, 2014 11:38 am

Data Feed: Winter weather’s economic toll, mapping Olympics buzz, U.S.-Mexico relations

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Politics
Majority of Americans and Mexicans, consider bilateral relations good, The Chicago Council
Voters regret Obamacare; 64% say corruption at IRS, topline, Fox News

Economy
Economists say Old Man Winter is taking a toll, The Wall Street Journal
Unemployment breakdowns in the U.S. and Europe, The Wall Street Journal
West Virginia has lowest payroll to population ratio, Gallup
U.S. small business owners’ optimism is up, Gallup
Gap between most, least expensive housing markets still wide, The Wall Street Journal

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Feb 13, 2014 11:37 am

Data Feed: Views of Russia, IPO surge, latest healthcare enrollment figures

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Politics
Many lack confidence in Obama, Congressional GOP, topline, McClatchy/Marist
America’s views of Russia, Putin are worst in years, Gallup
House candidates raised less in 2013 than in 2011, Center for Responsive Politics
NY voters support Cuomo, prefer Clinton over Christie in 2016, Quinnipiac
Polarization in Congress has risen sharply. Where’s it going next? The Washington Post

Economy
IPO surge on path to rival dotcom boom, USA TODAY
Retail sales slip in January, Census Bureau
Average 401(k) balance hit record $89,300 last year, CNN Money
Who would benefit from a higher minimum wage? The Wall Street Journal
How risky are business cycles for top earners? NBER
New data from Panel Study of Income Dynamics, University of Michigan

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Feb 13, 2014 11:00 am

Emerging nations catching up to U.S. on technology adoption, especially mobile and social media use

For Americans, cell phones are omnipresent. Many check their Facebook page multiple times a day. Access to WiFi is not a problem for most. Technology use in the U.S. has risen over the past two decades as products and service became more sophisticated and affordable.

A new Pew Research Center report provides a fascinating snapshot of how, within a remarkably short time, some developing nations are catching up – especially when it comes to mobile devices and social media. In other cases, the data are a reminder that some countries still have a technology profile that is 20th Century. Here are some of the key comparisons.

Cell phone and smartphone usage

FT_14.02.15_US_internet_data_cellphones_420pxRecent surveys at Pew Research show that 91% of American adults have cell phones and that smartphones have overtaken simpler “feature phones” in popularity. The adoption pattern of cell phones in emerging countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Chile do not look very different from America. China and Russia have even nudged ahead of the U.S. But other countries lag. In Pakistan, slightly more than half have a cell phone and in Mexico, it’s just above six-in-ten. Still, the rapid rise in cell phone ownership is quite breathtaking and might be due to the fact that many nations, unlike the U.S., have skipped landline technology and moved straight to mobile. Read More

Topics: Technology Adoption

Feb 13, 2014 7:00 am

5 facts about online dating

This Valentine’s Day, many American singles will be looking for love on one of the multitude of online dating sites and mobile dating apps on the market today. The Pew Research Center released a study about the world of online dating in late 2013, which found that 11% of American adults have used an online dating site or a mobile dating app. Here are five facts from our research about the world of dating in the digital age.

1Online dating has lost much of its stigma. A majority of Americans now say online dating is a good way to meet people, when that hasn’t always been the case.

FT_online-dating-attitudesWhen we first studied online dating habits in 2005, most Americans had little exposure to online dating or to the people who use it, and they tended to view it as a subpar way of meeting people. Today, almost half of the public knows someone who uses online dating or who has met a spouse or partner via online dating—and their attitudes towards online dating have grown progressively more positive.

To be sure, there are still lots of people today who don’t really understand why someone would want to find a romantic partner online—21% of Americans agree with the statement that “people who use online dating sites are desperate”—but in general it is much more culturally acceptable than it was just eight years ago. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Online Dating

Feb 12, 2014 4:16 pm

Support for death penalty drops among Americans

55%

More than half of Americans favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder, down from 78% in 1996.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that his state will not use the death penalty while he’s in office. In neighboring Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber made a similar move in 2011, and last year, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper issued an executive order halting an impending execution, and said there was “a legitimate question whether we as a state should be taking lives.”

While a majority of Americans (55%) favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder, according to a 2013 Pew Research survey, that number has declined significantly over the last two decades. In 1996, about three-quarters of the U.S. public (78%) favored capital punishment. Meanwhile, the share of those saying they oppose the death penalty has risen from 18% in 1996 to 37% in 2013.

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Our survey questions about the death penalty sometimes give respondents the opportunity to specify whether they “strongly favor” or “strongly oppose” the practice. In 2013, 18% of Americans said they “strongly favor” the death penalty – a steep drop from 28% who said this in 2011.

Read More

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Death Penalty