Oct 4, 2017 10:00 am

6 key findings on how Americans see the rise of automation

From driverless cars to a workplace staffed by robots, automation has the potential to reshape many facets of American life. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in May examines Americans’ attitudes about four emerging automation technologies: workplace automation, driverless cars, robot caregivers, and computer algorithms that evaluate and hire job applicants. Although Americans tend to have a positive view of technology overall, this survey finds that the continuing march of new technologies is causing them concern. Here are six key findings from the report:

1The public generally expresses more worry than enthusiasm about emerging automation technologies – especially when it comes to jobs. U.S. adults are roughly twice as likely to express worry (72%) as enthusiasm (33%) about a future in which robots and computers are capable of doing many jobs that are currently done by humans. They are also around three times as likely to express worry (67%) as enthusiasm (22%) about algorithms that make hiring decisions without any human involvement. By comparison, Americans tend to hold more balanced views toward driverless vehicles and robot caregivers.

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Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Science and Innovation, Technology Adoption, Work and Employment

Oct 3, 2017 10:02 am

Key facts about government-favored religion around the world

Throughout history, many kingdoms and nations have closely aligned themselves with religion by establishing official, government-endorsed faiths. Today, more than 80 countries either have an official religion or favor one or more religious groups over others, according to a new Pew Research Center report.

Countries that have an official religion, such as Iran or the United Kingdom, confer an official and legal status to one faith group, often granting that group benefits not available to other religions. Some nations do not officially endorse a faith, but instead favor or prefer a religion by granting financial, legal or other benefits to one (or occasionally more than one) religious group – as is the case with the Roman Catholic Church in Italy and Spain.

Countries without an official or preferred religion, such as the United States and Brazil, may have explicitly secular constitutions or basic laws that guarantee religious freedom, although this alone does not qualify them for this category. In addition to these laws, governments in these countries seek to avoid giving tangible benefits to one religious group over others (although they may evenhandedly provide benefits to many religious groups). Other countries, meanwhile, are either officially or unofficially hostile to religion, often making it very difficult for any faith group to practice freely.

Here are five key facts about countries that favor religious groups and those that do not:

1Roughly one-in-five (22%) of the world’s nations have an official state religion and a similar share (20%) have a preferred or favored faith tradition. The majority (53%) of the 199 countries we examined, including the U.S., have no official or preferred religion. Another 5% of the world’s nations are officially hostile to or extremely restrictive of religious institutions. Although a number of formerly communist countries now have official or preferred religions, all of the 10 countries that are hostile to or extremely restrictive of religion are either ruled by communist governments, such as China and Cuba, or are former communist states, such as Kazakhstan.

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Topics: Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religion and Government, Restrictions on Religion

Oct 3, 2017 6:59 am

Republicans’ optimism about future of GOP declines

Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are less confident about what lies ahead for their party than they were immediately following the election of Donald Trump last year.

Pessimism about the GOP’s future remains a minority viewpoint among Republicans and Republican leaners. However, a Pew Research Center survey of 4,867 adults conducted Sept. 14-28 finds that the share of Republicans who are very or somewhat pessimistic about the future of their party has nearly doubled, from 20% in December to 39% in the current survey.

About six-in-ten Republicans (59%) say they are very (12%) or somewhat (47%) optimistic about the future of the Republican Party. In December 2016, nearly eight-in-ten (79%) said they were very (28%) or somewhat (51%) optimistic. Republican views are now comparable to what they were on the eve of the 2016 election: Last November, 61% expressed optimism about their party’s future.

Though Democratic views are little changed since December, Democrats are now slightly more optimistic about their party than Republicans are about the GOP. Today 64% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are either very (13%) or somewhat (51%) optimistic about their party’s future. Democratic optimism remains considerably lower than it was in the days before the 2016 election, when 77% of Democrats and Democratic leaners expressed optimism.

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Topics: U.S. Political Parties, Political Attitudes and Values

Oct 2, 2017 10:01 am

After record migration, 80% of Syrian asylum applicants approved to stay in Europe

Syrian refugee Marwad Khaled, center left, is awarded a completion certificate for a beginner's level German language class by Dilek Kolat, Berlin state senator for Work, Women and Integration, in Berlin in July 2016. The language program is financed by the city of Berlin to train more than 20,000 of the refugees granted asylum in Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Syrian refugee Marwad Khaled, center left, is awarded a completion certificate for a beginner’s level German language class by Dilek Kolat, Berlin state senator for Work, Women and Integration, in Berlin in July 2016. The language program is financed by the city of Berlin to train more than 20,000 of the refugees granted asylum in Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Syrians filed more than twice as many asylum applications as any other origin group during Europe’s record migration surge in 2015 and 2016. In response, some European countries such as Germany prioritized the review of Syrian asylum applications above other nationalities of asylum seekers and approved a greater share of them than non-Syrians.

In all, more than half a million asylum seekers from Syria during the 2015-16 surge had received permission to stay in Europe, at least temporarily, as of Dec. 31, 2016, according to Pew Research Center estimates of data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Syrians not only filed the most applications, they also had the highest share of approved applications of any asylum-seeker origin group. Among nationalities with the most asylum applications in 2015 and 2016, estimates show the share of Syrians (80%) permitted to stay in the European Union, Norway and Switzerland was far higher than the share among Eritreans (68%), Somalians (38%), Iraqis (36%), Sudanese (36%) and Afghans (22%).

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Topics: Immigration Trends, Migration, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Wars and International Conflicts, Immigration

Sep 29, 2017 12:01 pm

Hispanic dropout rate hits new low, college enrollment at new high

The high school dropout rate among U.S. Hispanics has fallen to a new low, extending a decades-long decline, according to recently released data from the Census Bureau. The reduction has come alongside a long-term increase in Hispanic college enrollment, which is at a record high.

The Hispanic dropout rate was 10% in 2016, with about 648,000 Hispanics ages 18 to 24 – out of more than 6.5 million nationally in that age group – not completing high school and not enrolled in school. Just five years earlier, the rate had been 16%.

The overall high school dropout rate in the U.S. has also fallen substantially in recent decades, matching a record low of 6% in 2016. Hispanics have accounted for much of that decline. Since 1999, the earliest year for which data on all major races and ethnicities are available, the dropout rate among Hispanics has fallen by 24 percentage points, compared with 9 points among blacks, 3 points among whites and 2 points among Asians. (Hispanics, however, still have the highest dropout rate of these four groups.)

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Topics: School Enrollment, Educational Attainment, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Education, Race and Ethnicity

Sep 28, 2017 10:01 am

Latino unemployment rate is back at historic low

The unemployment rate for Hispanics in the U.S. has returned to a historic low last seen more than a decade ago, though other labor market measures show this group has not totally recovered from the Great Recession, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

The Hispanic unemployment rate stood at 4.7% in the second quarter of 2017, about the same as in the second quarter of 2006 (4.9%). The improving labor market prospects for Latinos mirror trends for U.S. workers overall. The national unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2017 was 4.2%, compared with 4.6% in the second quarter of 2006. (Estimates are non-seasonally adjusted, but seasonally adjusted data show the same trend.)  Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Business and Labor, Work and Employment, National Economy

Sep 28, 2017 7:01 am

Views about whether whites benefit from societal advantages split sharply along racial and partisan lines

Issues of race have long divided Americans along racial and partisan lines, and these differences extend to views of whether white people in the U.S. benefit from advantages in society that black people do not have.

A majority of Americans (56%) say that white people either benefit “a great deal” (26%) or “a fair amount” (29%) from advantages that blacks do not have. About four-in-ten (43%) say white people benefit “not too much” (28%) or “not at all” (16%) from societal advantages, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Aug. 8 to 21 among 4,971 adults on the American Trends Panel. These attitudes are largely unchanged from a year ago, the last time the Center asked this question.

Whites and blacks have distinctly different views. An overwhelming majority of blacks (92%) say whites benefit a great deal or a fair amount from advantages that blacks do not have, including 68% who say they benefit a great deal. By comparison, 46% of whites say whites benefit at least a fair amount from advantages in society that blacks don’t have, and just 16% of whites say whites benefit a great deal. Attitudes among Hispanics fall between those of whites and blacks, with about two-thirds of Hispanics (65%) saying white people benefit a great deal or a fair amount from societal privileges that black people do not have.

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Topics: Donald Trump, Political Attitudes and Values, Race and Ethnicity

Sep 27, 2017 1:00 pm

More Americans favor raising than lowering tax rates on corporations, high household incomes

As the congressional debate over President Donald Trump’s tax overhaul begins, more Americans say tax rates on corporations and higher-income households should be raised rather than lowered.

About a quarter of U.S. adults (24%) say tax rates on corporations and large businesses should be lowered, while roughly twice as many (52%) say they should be raised. Another 21% say corporate tax rates should be kept the same as they are now.

There is less public support for raising taxes on higher-income households. However, as with tax rates on corporations, just 24% say taxes on incomes over $250,000 should be reduced; 43% say they should be raised, while 29% favor keeping them the same as they are currently, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Aug. 15-21 among 1,893 adults.

Majorities of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor raising tax rates on both corporations (69%) and high incomes (57%), while Republicans are more divided.

Among Republicans and Republican leaners, 41% say tax rates on corporations and large businesses should be lowered, while 32% say they should be raised (23% want them kept as they are). And only about a third of Republicans (36%) say tax rates on household incomes above $250,000 should be reduced; nearly as many (33%) say they should be kept as they are and 26% want them raised.

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Topics: Taxes, Economic and Business News, Income Inequality, Income, U.S. Political Parties

Sep 27, 2017 11:01 am

Many poll respondents guess wrong on their interviewer’s race or ethnicity

Researchers have long known that an interviewer’s race or ethnicity can affect the way respondents reply to a question, both face-to-face and on the telephone. Yet few researchers have studied how respondents actually perceive their interviewer’s race or ethnicity over the phone.

A new analysis of a Pew Research Center telephone survey finds that many respondents incorrectly identify their telephone interviewer’s race or ethnicity.

The survey, conducted Feb. 29-May 8, 2016, among 3,769 adults, focused primarily on the topic of race relations, racial equality and discrimination.

Interviewers were instructed to ask the following question at the end of the survey: “You may not have thought about this … but if you had to guess, would you say I am white, black, Hispanic, Asian or some other race? Just your best guess is fine.”

The analysis of the responses shows that there is often a mismatch between what respondents perceive to be the interviewer’s race or ethnicity and the race or ethnicity specified in the interviewer’s employee records. About half of respondents overall (49%) guessed a race or ethnicity that didn’t match the interviewer’s self-identified race or ethnicity, while 40% guessed “correctly” and 11% said they could not make a guess or refused to answer.

Respondents were most accurate in identifying the race of white interviewers. Seven-in-ten correctly answered that they were talking to a white interviewer. In contrast, about half of respondents with black interviewers (51%) and 43% with Hispanic interviewers guessed that their interviewer was black or Hispanic, respectively. Almost no one (3%) contacted by an Asian interviewer correctly identified their interviewer’s race. A 60% majority of respondents who did not correctly identify the race or ethnicity of a nonwhite interviewer guessed that the interviewer was white.

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Topics: Telephone Survey Methods, Research Methods, Race and Ethnicity

Sep 27, 2017 7:00 am

Most Americans think the government could be monitoring their phone calls and emails

Seven-in-ten U.S. adults say it is at least somewhat likely that their own phone calls and emails are being monitored by the government, including 37% who believe that this type of surveillance is “very likely,” according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in February.

Just 13% of the public say it is “not at all likely” that the government is monitoring their communications.

These views are prevalent across a number of different demographic groups, but there are some differences based on age, gender and education.

Most notably, nearly eight-in-ten U.S. adults under the age of 50 think it is likely that the government is tracking their communications, compared with around six-in-ten of those 50 and older.

Additionally, men are more likely than women to suspect government monitoring, as are those with a high school degree or less compared with people who have a college degree or higher.

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Topics: Federal Government, Online Privacy and Safety, Emerging Technology Impacts, Surveillance