May 5, 2016 7:00 am

Key findings on how Americans view the U.S. role in the world

Foreign policy and the role America should play in the world have been subjects of heated debate in both major parties during this year’s U.S. presidential election campaign. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the American public is uncertain and divided over America’s place in the world, ranging from differences on the greatest threats to the U.S. to the measures the country should take to deal with them. Americans also have mixed views about how assertive a role the U.S. should play internationally.

Here are key findings from the survey:

1Americans wary of global involvementAmericans are wary about how much the U.S. should be involved globally. Nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) want the U.S. “to deal with its own problems and let other countries deal with their own problems as best they can.” Just 37% say the U.S. should help other countries deal with their problems.

Still, on some measures, skepticism about U.S. global engagement is not as widespread as in 2013, when it reached historic levels. For instance, while more Americans say the U.S. does too much (41%) rather than too little (27%) to help solve world problems (28% say it does about the right amount), the share saying the U.S. does too much globally stood at 51% three years ago.   Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: 2016 Election, Global Balance of Power, Globalization and Trade, Political Attitudes and Values, Terrorism, U.S. Political Parties, Wars and International Conflicts

May 4, 2016 6:00 pm

5 facts about prayer

55% of Americans Say They Pray Every Day

May 5 is the National Day of Prayer, on which presidents annually proclaim that “the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” The day has spawned a rival National Day of Reason on the same day, started by humanist groups and other opponents of the National Day of Prayer.

Here are five facts about prayer, including survey data on Americans’ prayer habits and historical instances of prayer intersecting with the government: Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Religion and Government, Religion and Society, Religion and U.S. Politics, Religious Beliefs and Practices

May 4, 2016 12:00 pm

U.S. border apprehensions of families and unaccompanied children jump dramatically

Apprehensions of children and their families at the U.S.-Mexico border since October 2015 have more than doubled from a year ago and now outnumber apprehensions of unaccompanied children, a figure that also increased this year, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

There were 32,117 apprehensions of family members – defined as children traveling with at least one parent or guardian – during the first six months of fiscal 2016 (October 2015 to March 2016). By comparison, apprehensions of unaccompanied children totaled 27,754 over the same period. The number of family apprehensions is more than double that of the previous year. The number of apprehensions of unaccompanied children shot up by 78%.

Apprehensions of children and their families exceed those of unaccompanied children in 2016

The apprehension of more families than unaccompanied children is a reversal from summer 2014, when thousands of children fled gang violence and poverty in Central America and migrated north to the U.S. without a parent or guardian. During the first six months of fiscal 2014, there were 19,830 apprehensions of children and their families, compared with 28,579 apprehensions of unaccompanied children.

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

May 2, 2016 11:55 am

What we learned about online nonprobability polls

For decades the gold standard for public opinion surveys has been the probability poll, where a sample of randomly selected adults is polled and results are used to measure public opinion across an entire population. But the cost of these traditional polls is growing each year, leading many pollsters to turn to online nonprobability surveys, which do not rely on random sampling and instead recruit through ads, pop-up solicitations and other approaches.

The advantages of these online surveys are obvious – they are fast and relatively inexpensive, and the technology for them is pervasive. But are they accurate? Pew Research Center undertook a study to answer this question. Courtney Kennedy, director of survey research, explains what we found.

Courtney Kennedy, Pew Research Center director of survey research

What was the Center’s goal in undertaking this study?

We recognize that the use of online nonprobability surveys is already widespread and that their popularity is likely to increase in the years ahead, due in large part to the growing costs associated with traditional, probability-based surveys. So we conducted this study as a first step in trying to understand what the landscape of online nonprobability polls looks like and how these types of surveys perform – without elaborate adjustments – using several metrics.

What did the study look like?

We constructed a 56-item questionnaire that was administered to nine different samples from eight commercial vendors. The questionnaire included 20 items that have population benchmarks (such as smoking, health care coverage, household composition and more) from high-quality federal surveys so we could estimate the accuracy of each vendor’s results and better understand the makeup of each sample’s participants.

Nearly all the same 56 questions were also asked on waves of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), which is conducted predominantly online but also allows for mail response for adults without internet access. Unlike the other samples in the study, the ATP is probability-based because its members were recruited from our 2014 random-digit-dial telephone survey of 10,000 U.S. adults. Read More

Category: Social Studies

Topics: Polling, Research Methods, Web Survey Methods

Apr 29, 2016 3:30 pm

Why is the teen birth rate falling?

U.S. teen birth rate has fallen dramatically over time

The teen birth rate in the U.S. is at a record low, dropping below 25 births per 1,000 teen females for the first time since the government began collecting consistent data on births to teens ages 15-19, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Nonwhite and younger teens have led the way in declining birth rates in recent years. Since the most recent peak in 2007, the birth rate among all teens has dropped by 42%. The declines among Hispanic (50%), Asian or Pacific Islander (48%) and black (44%) teens have outpaced this national average, while the decline among white teens (36%) has been somewhat more modest. Birth rates among younger teens ages 15-17 have also fallen faster – dropping by 50%, compared with a 39% decline among older teens ages 18 and 19. Read More

Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, Teens and Youth

Apr 28, 2016 11:30 am

Census Bureau hopes to use data from other government agencies in 2020

Government Records
The Census Bureau is looking into using information contained in individual income tax and Social Security records to improve its operations. (Getty Images)

Anyone who has filed a U.S. tax return, applied for a Social Security number or signed up for Medicare has given personal data to the government. So when the Census Bureau counts the American public, can it use the information that other federal agencies have already collected?

The Census Bureau would very much like to do that. For the 2020 census, the bureau is testing whether government records could supply basic details about 6 million hard-to-count households, and be used to identify another 6 million vacant homes so door-to-door enumerators can save time by skipping them during follow-up on homes that did not send in census forms. The agency also is researching whether such records could be a substitute for some questions, especially about sensitive topics such as income, on the American Community Survey, which replaced the census long form in 2010.

The Census Bureau has been studying how to make use of well-vetted government records for decades, and today does so in a limited way – to count overseas military and federal employees in the decennial census, for example. But the agency now says it is serious about doing more, and acting quickly. One reason is that it is under pressure from Congress to hold down costs for the 2020 census. Another is that it has promised to look into dropping questions from the American Community Survey that have provoked complaints from respondents.

“We’ve been talking about it for a long time as the next big frontier, and now we have no choice,” said Joseph Salvo, a New York City planning official who co-chaired a recent National Academies of Sciences workshop that included a session on how the American Community Survey might use other government or commercial data to supplement its data collection. Read More

Topics: Federal Government, U.S. Census

Apr 27, 2016 7:00 am

Israeli Arabs more optimistic about two-state solution than Arabs living in the Palestinian territories

Israeli Arabs more optimistic about a two-state solutionThe idea that an independent Palestinian state can peacefully coexist with Israel has been the cornerstone of many Arab-Israeli peace initiatives in recent years. But while significant shares of Israeli Arabs and Jews are optimistic about the prospect of a two-state solution, the Arabs currently in the Palestinian territories are less so.

Half of Israeli Arabs (citizens and residents living within the boundaries of Israel, as defined in the 2008 census conducted by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics) say it is possible for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully together, according to 2015 Pew Research Center surveys. By contrast, less than one-third of Arabs living in the Palestinian territories say a two-state solution is possible (28%). Jewish public opinion in Israel is divided on this question – 43% say a two-state solution is possible, while 45% disagree. Read More

Topics: Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam, Wars and International Conflicts

Apr 26, 2016 1:30 pm

A closer look at Jehovah’s Witnesses living in the U.S.

Jehovah's Witnesses in the U.S.

The death of superstar musician Prince has prompted many reflections on his life – including his religious faith. Prince, who was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist, became a Jehovah’s Witness as an adult and attended services in his home state of Minnesota.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, who make up just less than 1% of U.S. adults, are known for their door-to-door proselytism. But members of this denomination, which has its origins in 19th-century America, are also unique in many other ways. Here are a few facts about Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States today, based on Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study:

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Topics: Christians and Christianity, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Apr 25, 2016 7:00 am

Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation

FT_16_04.25_generations2050Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.

The Millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks. Boomers – whose generation was defined by the boom in U.S. births following World War II – are older and their numbers shrinking as the number of deaths among them exceeds the number of older immigrants arriving in the country.
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Topics: Baby Boomers, Generations and Age, Millennials, U.S. Census

Apr 22, 2016 7:00 am

For Earth Day, here’s how Americans view environmental issues

The 1970s were an important era for American environmentalism. Congress passed the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency, and the nation’s first Earth Day – created by Democratic Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin – was held on April 22, 1970.

Forty-six years later, Earth Day has expanded across the globe, with dozens of countries holding events ranging from launching new recycling programs to rallies addressing climate change.

Here are five findings related to the public’s views about the environment:

1Should the country do whatever it takes to protect the environment? Most Americans say yes, but party divisions grow widerOverall, Americans support protecting the environment, but there are deep partisan divides on the issue. Fully 74% of U.S. adults said the “country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment,” compared with 23% who say “the country has gone too far in its efforts to protect the environment,” according to newly released data from a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March.

Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party have consistently been more likely than Republican and Republican leaners to agree that the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment, but Republican support has decreased since 2004 and the gap between the two groups has widened to 38 percentage points today.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Energy and Environment, Federal Government, Political Issue Priorities, U.S. Political Parties