Dec 11, 2015 11:35 am

Patriotic, honest and selfish: How Americans describe … Americans

Most Americans say the 'typical American' is patriotic, intelligent - and selfishThe American public has shown itself to be quite critical in its views of politicians and the federal government, expressing low levels of trust in both. Yet a recent Pew Research Center survey of attitudes about government also finds that Americans pull no punches when assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their fellow citizens.

The public gives the “typical American” a mixed assessment when asked about specific traits. Most (79%) agree that the term “patriotic” describes the typical American very or fairly well, and majorities also view the typical American as “honest” (69%) and “intelligent” (67%).

However, just over two-thirds (68%) say the term “selfish” also applies to the typical American very or fairly well, and half of the public says that the typical American can be aptly described as “lazy.” Read More

Topics: Millennials, Political Attitudes and Values, Social Values

Dec 11, 2015 9:45 am

Twins, triplets and more: More U.S. births are multiples than ever before

Newborn Triplets

The share of multiples born in the U.S. is at an all-time high, according to recently released data from the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2014, 3.5% of all babies born were twins, triplets or higher-order multiples, accounting for almost 140,000 births.

After decades of stability, multiple births on the riseWhile multiples still make up a small share of all births, this marks a dramatic increase since 1915 – the first year for which reliable data are available – when about 2% of all births were multiples. In fact, the share of multiples remained quite constant for decades until the 1980s, when it started to tick up.

This growing market for double strollers might reflect a shift in Americans’ lifestyles. First, as women delay childbearing into their 30s and beyond, their likelihood of having multiples – even in the absence of medical intervention – naturally rises. Second, the increasing use of fertility treatments, such as hormone therapy or in vitro fertilization (IVF), further bolsters the likelihood of multiple births.  Read More

Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, Generations and Age, Population Trends

Dec 10, 2015 1:02 pm

As smog hangs over Beijing, Chinese cite air pollution as major concern

Most days, air quality in Beijing is unhealthy or worse

Beijing experienced more than 200 days of air pollution categorized as “unhealthy” or worse in 2014, including 21 days that were “hazardous” – while only about 10 days were considered “good,” according to data gathered by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

This week, smog was so severe that authorities declared a “red alert” for the first time, closing down schools, halting construction and limiting car traffic. The alert came during a week when negotiators at the U.N. climate summit in Paris accused China of trying to weaken a global accord, and a month after a report that China has been burning up to 17% more coal a year than it previously disclosed. Read More

Topics: China, Energy and Environment

Dec 10, 2015 11:55 am

Supreme Court could reshape voting districts, with big impact on Hispanics

FT_15.12.15_2014ACS_map

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments recently in a Texas case that challenges the way nearly every U.S. voting district – from school boards to Congress – is drawn. The case asks the court to specify what the word “person” means in its “one person, one vote” rule. The outcome of the case could have major impacts on Hispanic voting strength and representation from coast to coast.

Ever since a series of landmark rulings in the 1960s, districts have been drawn “as nearly of equal population as is practicable.” (As Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the majority in Reynolds v. Sims, “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.”) The high court didn’t directly say what “equal population” meant, but states and localities have almost invariably used total population figures. And that population is determined by the decennial census. Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Vote, Supreme Court, Voter Demographics

Dec 10, 2015 9:30 am

Cuban immigration to U.S. surges as relations warm

Sharp increase in the number of Cubans entering the U.S.The number of Cubans who have entered the U.S. has spiked dramatically since President Obama last year announced a renewal of ties with the island nation, a Pew Research Center analysis of government data has found. The U.S. has since opened an embassy in Havana, a move supported by a large majority of Americans, and public support is growing for ending the trade embargo with Cuba.

Cubans seeking to enter the U.S. may receive special treatment under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. Those hoping to live in the U.S. legally need only show up at a port of entry and pass an inspection, which includes a check of criminal and immigration history in the U.S. After a year in the country, they may apply for legal permanent residence.

Overall, 43,159 Cubans entered the U.S. via ports of entry in fiscal year 2015, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data obtained through a public records request. This represents a 78% increase over the previous year, when 24,278 Cubans entered. And those 2013 numbers had already increased dramatically after the Cuban government lifted travel restrictions. By comparison, in fiscal 2011, just 7,759 Cubans came into the U.S. Read More

Topics: Bilateral Relations, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Latin America, Migration

Dec 10, 2015 7:00 am

5 takeaways about the American middle class

Americans in middle-income households have lost significant ground since 1970, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

The middle class has long been the country’s economic majority, but our new analysis finds that’s no longer true. Meanwhile, the middle class has fallen further behind upper-income households financially, which now hold a larger share of aggregate household income than ever before in the 44-year period examined.

Share of U.S. adults living in the middle-income households is shrinking

We define middle-income households as those whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the U.S. median household income after incomes have been adjusted for household size. This amounts to about $42,000 to $126,000 annually, in 2014 dollars and for a household of three. Lower-income households have incomes less than two-thirds of the median, while upper-income households have incomes that are more than double the median. (Related: Are you in the American middle class? Find out with our income calculator.)

Here are five key takeaways from the report:

1Middle-income Americans are no longer the nation’s economic majority. In early 2015, there were 120.8 million adults in middle-income households, matched in number by the 121.3 million adults who were in lower- and upper-income households combined.

This is the culmination of a long slide in which the share of adults in middle-income households has fallen from 61% in 1971 to 50% in 2015. Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Socioeconomic Class

Dec 9, 2015 3:50 pm

Are you in the American middle class? Find out with our income calculator

About half of American adults – 120.8 million out of 242.1 million – live in middle-income households as of early 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. In percentage terms, 50% of adults now live in middle-income households, 29% in lower-income households, and 21% in upper-income households.

Our new calculator below lets you find out which group you are in – first compared with all American adults and then compared with other adults similar to you in education, age, race or ethnicity, and marital status:

The calculator takes your household income and adjusts it for the size of your household. The income is revised upward for households that are below average in size and downward for those that are above average. This way, each household’s income is made equivalent to the income of a three-person household (the whole number nearest to the average size of a U.S. household, which was 2.5 in 2015). Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Socioeconomic Class

Dec 8, 2015 9:00 am

One-fifth of Americans report going online ‘almost constantly’

As smartphones and other mobile devices have become more widespread, some 21% of Americans now report that they go online “almost constantly,” according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Overall, 73% of Americans go online on a daily basis. Along with the 21% who go online almost constantly, 42% go online several times a day and 10% go online about once a day. Some 13% go online several times a week or less often. And in this survey, 13% of adults say they do not use the internet at all.

Three-quarters of Americans go online at least daily

Younger adults are in the vanguard of the constantly connected: Fully 36% of 18- to 29-year-olds go online almost constantly and 50% go online multiple times per day. By comparison, just 6% of those 65 and older go online almost constantly (and just 24% go online multiple times per day). Read More

Topics: Internet Activities

Dec 7, 2015 6:11 pm

Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world

Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – say they know little or nothing about Islam.

Here are answers to some key questions about Muslims, compiled from several Pew Research Center reports published in recent years:

How many Muslims are there? Where do they live?

There were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 – roughly 23% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.

Although many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region, where the religion originated in the seventh century, are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims. A majority of the Muslims globally (62%) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey. Read More

Topics: Muslim Americans, Muslim-Western Relations, Muslims and Islam, Population Geography, Population Trends, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Dec 7, 2015 10:16 am

As more money flows into campaigns, Americans worry about its influence

FT_15.12.03_campaignFinance_concernAmericans of different political persuasions may not agree on much, but one thing they do agree on is that money has a greater – and mostly negative – influence on politics than ever before. Among liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, large majorities favor limits on campaign spending and say the high cost of campaigning discourages many good candidates from running for president.

While perceptions of influence are subjective, there’s clearly more money in the U.S. political system now than at any time since the campaign finance reforms of the 1970s, according to a new Pew Research Center data analysis of contributions and spending. That’s the case whether you look at presidential, House or Senate elections. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns