Jul 9, 2015 8:55 am

How Americans compare with the global middle class

56% of Americans Are High-Income

By some key measures, the typical American household has slipped behind economically since the beginning of the 21st century.

In 2013, the median income of U.S. households was $51,939, down substantially from $55,562 in 2001 (figures in 2013 dollars). In addition to two recessions – in 2001 and from 2007 to 2009 – longer-run trends such as globalization, the decline of unions, technological change and the rising cost of benefits such as health care are factors that limit prospects for many Americans.

But how does the well-being of the American family compare with the well-being of people in other countries? Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, World Economies

Jul 9, 2015 7:00 am

Financial crises surprisingly common, but few countries close their banks

For Americans, the sight of Greeks lined up outside shuttered banks evokes images from the Great Depression – the last time all banks in the U.S. were closed on government orders. In fact, while banking crises are depressingly common around the world, governments typically only impose such “bank holidays” as a last resort, to keep funds from fleeing the banking system and sending it crashing down.

timeline of banking crisesWe examined a comprehensive database of financial crises from 1970 through 2012 compiled and maintained by two economists for the International Monetary Fund to see just how unusual the current situation in Greece is. The IMF economists defined “systemic banking crises” as those with both “significant signs of financial distress in the banking system,” such as major bank runs, losses and liquidations, and significant policy interventions in response, such as deposit guarantees, nationalizations, recapitalizations, deposit freezes and bank holidays. Read More

Topics: Economic Recession, World Economies

Jul 8, 2015 3:02 pm

6 key takeaways about the world’s emerging middle class

Poverty Plunges from 2001 to 2011 and the Global Middle-Income Population IncreasesDuring the first decade of this century, the world experienced a dramatic drop in the number of people living in poverty and a significant rise in the number who could be considered middle income, according to a new Pew Research Center report. But the majority of the global population remains low income.

Our analysis includes 111 countries, which accounted for 88% of the global population in 2011, the latest year that could be analyzed with the available data.

Here are six key takeaways from the report on how these big global changes have played out recently:

1The world’s middle-income population – people living on $10-20 per day – nearly doubled, increasing by 386 million from 2001 to 2011. In the 111 countries included in the report, some 783 million people were middle income in 2011, compared with 398 million in 2001. Looked at by share, the global middle class increased from 7% of the world’s population in 2001 to 13% in 2011.

2The emergence of a truly global middle class is still more promise than reality. The growth in the middle-income population was concentrated in particular regions. China, South America and Eastern Europe are home to some of the biggest increases. China alone accounted for more than half the additions to the global middle-income population from 2001 to 2011, with 203 million. Countries in South America and in Eastern Europe added 50 million and 39 million to the global middle class, respectively. By contrast, Africa and much of Asia, including India, have lagged behind. Read More

Topics: Europe, Income, Middle Class, North America, Poverty

Jul 8, 2015 11:56 am

Russians warm to China as relations with U.S. cool

Russian views of China and the U.S.As Russia plays host this week to a critical summit of leaders of the emerging market nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), Russian President Vladimir Putin is especially keen on bolstering ties with the leading economic power of the group – China. And he likely won’t have much opposition from the Russian people, who now see China more favorably than at any point since 2002.

Our recent survey on the global balance of power between the U.S. and China included a number of questions about the world’s two most powerful countries, including a basic measure of favorability – whether Russians have a favorable or unfavorable view of China and the U.S. And on this simple question, the trend is clear: China is gaining popularity in Russia as attitudes toward the U.S. turn sharply negative.

In just the past two years, favorable views of China have jumped 17 percentage points among Russians, from 62% in 2013 to an all-time high of 79% today. Meanwhile, favorable views of the U.S. have taken a nosedive, falling from 51% in 2013, to 23% in 2014, to an all-time low of 15% today. Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, China, Europe, International Threats and Allies, Non-U.S. Political Leaders, Russia, World Economies

Jul 7, 2015 3:22 pm

5 facts about Greece and the EU

Greek and EU Flags
(Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

The people of Greece spoke decisively on Sunday, voting 61% to 39% to reject financial bailout terms called for by its creditors, but the country’s fraught relationship with the European Union faces critical hurdles in the coming days.

While Greece deals with a major debt crisis and uncertain future in the eurozone, public opinion in Greece and elsewhere in Europe had shown clear signs of tension leading up to this point. Many European nations were hit hard by the recession, but Greece has been slower to recover, and its people have felt frustrated by persistently high unemployment and steep austerity measures imposed on them.

Most Greeks polled in 2014 didn’t express particularly warm views of the EU. And public sentiment showed that many in other European nations harbor negative stereotypes of Greeks.

Here are five facts, based on public opinion in recent years, to understand the relationship between Greece and the EU: Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Economic Recession, Europe, International Governments and Institutions, World Economies

Jul 6, 2015 7:00 am

Most of the busiest U.S. airports have dedicated chapels

Ash Wednesday at Denver International Airport
Deacon Jack Sutton prays with visitors in an Ash Wednesday service at the Interfaith Chapel at Denver International Airport in 2011. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Travelers often arrive at airports praying that the security lines won’t be too long or that they don’t end up in a middle seat. But at many of the nation’s largest airports, there’s a more spiritual setting for offering up prayers – a chapel.

In fact, more than half of the nation’s busiest airports have dedicated chapels, and many of these facilities offer a variety of worship services for different faith traditions. Read More

Topics: Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Jul 3, 2015 12:17 pm

As Greeks head to the polls, the Twitter conversation differs by language

Twitter Conversation on EU Proposals Takes Different Tone by LanguageLeading up to the Greek referendum this Sunday over whether to accept the European Union’s austerity measures, the Twitter conversations in Greek and English reveal major differences in both tone and focus, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

Among Greek-language tweets studied, 40% of the conversation included positive expressions about the EU proposals on the referendum calling for a financial bailout that would likely include new austerity measures, while 33% was negative and 27% was neutral. The stakes are high and yet also still unclear – a “no” vote could lead to a possible exit from the eurozone or a fresh start for the negotiations.

A majority of the English-language conversation about the referendum was neutral (61%), but within the portion of the conversation that contained any tone, the positive (32% of the total conversation) outweighed the negative (7%).

Our analysis included nearly 2.5 million tweets in both languages posted between June 26 (following the prime minister’s referendum announcement) and July 1.

Read More

Topics: News Audience Trends and Attitudes, Social Media, World Economies

Jul 3, 2015 7:00 am

America divided on the secret to its success

Why Has U.S. Been Successful? Younger Adults Point to Its Ability to Change. Compared with those in many other countries, Americans stand out for their patriotism. But public opinion surveys show that Americans disagree over what’s behind their country’s success.

Pew Research Center’s political values survey has consistently found that overwhelming majorities agree with the statement “I am very patriotic.” In 2012, 89% of Americans agreed with this statement; the share agreeing has never fallen below 85% in the survey’s 25-year history.

But when asked whether the United States owed its success more to its “ability to change” or its “reliance on long-standing principles,” 51% of Americans attributed the country’s success to the former, while 44% pointed to the latter.

The question was one of many measures about the U.S., its future and its global standing we examined for our 2014 Political Typology. Read More

Topics: Baby Boomers, Generations and Age, Millennials, Political Party Affiliation, Political Typology

Jul 2, 2015 11:05 am

In wake of stronger growth, more Americans and Europeans say U.S. is top economic power

Stronger Growth in U.S. Tracking with Increased Perceptions of America as World's Leading Economy vs. ChinaFor the first time in six years, more people in America say that the U.S. – not China – is the world’s leading economic power, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Furthermore, Europeans, who had favored China as the leading economy in the past few years, increasingly view the U.S. as the top economy.

Since the onset of the Great Recession, opinion has fluctuated over time, and public perceptions of America’s and China’s economic strength seems to be a lagging indicator for actual rates of growth in each country.

In spring 2008, before America experienced the worst of the recession, 46% in the U.S. and a median of 44% across five European Union nations – the UK, France, Germany, Poland and Spain – picked the U.S. as the top economy. And even though China was humming along at 9.6% annual growth, only 26% of Americans and a median of 29% in the EU countries said China was the world’s economic leader.

But by 2010, public opinion began to shift more in favor of China. After the U.S. experienced a severe contraction and China’s growth remained robust, people in many countries around the world – including the U.S. – began to see China as a leading economic power. That year, 41% of Americans named China as the leading economic power, while 38% named the U.S. Across the five EU nations, a median of 44% named China as the top economy in 2010.

And by 2012, publics polled in Europe saw China as the leading power, with a median of 57% saying this. Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, China, Economic and Business News, Economic Recession, Global Balance of Power, National Economy, World Economies

Jul 2, 2015 9:25 am

Where Christian churches, other religions stand on gay marriage

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide raised questions about how the decision will affect religious groups – especially those that continue to oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. The court’s ruling makes clear that clergy and religious organizations are not obliged to perform same-sex marriages, but some groups have expressed concerns about their tax-exempt status.

Where Major Religions Stand on Same-Sex MarriageMany of the largest U.S. religious institutions have remained firmly against allowing same-sex marriage, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Jewish movement and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as the Southern Baptist Convention and other evangelical Protestant denominations.

At the same time, in the past two decades, several other religious groups also have moved to allow same-sex couples to marry within their traditions. This includes the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.

Read More

Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Hindus and Hinduism, Jews and Judaism, Mormons and Mormonism