Feb 12, 2014 4:16 pm

Support for death penalty drops among Americans


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.


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.

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Category: Daily Number

Topics: Death Penalty

Feb 12, 2014 2:28 pm

Record share of wives are more educated than their husbands

DN_Marry_DownIt used to be more common for a husband to have more education than his wife in America. But now, for the first time since Pew Research has tracked this trend over the past 50 years, the share of couples in which the wife is the one “marrying down” educationally is higher than those in which the husband has more education.

Among married women in 2012, 21% had spouses who were less educated than they were—a threefold increase from 1960, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census data.

The share of couples where the husband’s education exceeds his wife’s increased steadily from 1960 to 1990, but has fallen since then to 20% in 2012.

DN_Share_DeclinesThe trend toward wives being more educated than their husbands is even more prevalent among newlyweds, partly because younger women have surpassed men in higher education in the past two decades. In 2012, 27% of newlywed women married a spouse whose education level was lower than theirs. By contrast, only 15% of newlywed men married a spouse with less education. Among college educated newlyweds (including those with postgraduate and advanced degrees), nearly four-in-ten women (39%) married a spouse without a college degree, but only 26% of men did so.

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Topics: College, Demographics, Education, Population Trends

Feb 12, 2014 11:26 am

Data Feed: Unemployment breakdowns, airline complaints, divorce and college for women

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

Christie is dropping fast against Clinton, McClatchy/Marist
New Yorkers back Cuomo’s no-tax pre-K plan, Quinnipiac
Updated graphic on debt-ceiling increases since 1980, The Washington Post

Mixed views of economic news persist, Pew Research Center
In 2013, 15 major strikes and lockouts idled 55,000 workers, BLS
Single unemployment rate can’t capture complex labor market, The Washington Post
January unemployment by sex and by age, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Single working mothers worse off since recession, Working Poor Families Project via PRB
North Dakota leads job creation index for fifth straight year, Gallup
Which airlines are habitually late? Bloomberg
Airline consumer complaints down in 2013, Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Cold weather, tight supplies sending propane prices higher, EIA
Most metro areas seeing strong home-price growth, National Association of Realtors
Is U.S. housing unaffordable? Depends how you chart it, The Wall Street Journal
Startups are more responsive to economic conditions than older firms, NBER

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Category: Data Feed

Feb 12, 2014 7:00 am

As the population grays, Americans stay upbeat

FT_14.02.10_USGlobalAging_200pxOne-in-five Americans are expected to be 65 and older by mid-century, and this could be a problem for the country. There is worry that government and household finances may be pushed to the brink by rising pension and health care expenditures. Economic growth, we are warned, might suffer with fewer workers and more retirees. But what does the public think?

It may come as a surprise that the American public is pretty optimistic. In a Pew Research Center survey, only about one-in-four Americans say the growing number of older people is a major problem for the country, nearly two-thirds are confident they will have an adequate standard of living in their old age, and almost one-half say that individuals are primarily responsible for their own economic well-being as they get older.

FT_14.02.10_USGlobalAging_310pxThese opinions differ sharply from public opinion in most of the 20 other countries that we surveyed. Americans are among the least likely to view aging as a major problem; they are more confident than most of their old-age economic well-being; and they are one of few to express in plurality that individuals are primarily responsible for their own well-being in old age.

Why are Americans so confident? And is there a gap between demographic reality and U.S. public opinion? It is hard to be sure, but the views of the American public are consistent with demographic projections. On two major counts—population growth and population aging—the future for the U.S. is robust compared with other countries. Read More

Topics: Generations and Age

Feb 11, 2014 2:37 pm

Americans have been lukewarm, skeptical about economy since 2000

FT_14.02.11_RatingUSeconomy_420pxThe last two monthly jobs reports were, as they say, nothing to write home about. U.S. payrolls expanded by just 113,000 jobs in January, far weaker than economists had predicted, after gaining just 75,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate edged lower to 6.6%, the lowest level since October 2008 but still well above pre-Great Recession levels. And average weekly earnings, $832.82, were just 1.9% higher above their level a year earlier; annual wage growth (measured December-to-December) has been below 3% for the past six years.

In short, there’s plenty of reason for Americans to feel down about the economy, which they do. But the sour feelings started long before the Great Recession and not-so-great recovery.

The last time Americans were unambiguously positive about the national economy, in fact, was during the technology-fueled boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. In a Gallup poll conducted in January 2000, 52% of Americans termed economic conditions “good”; an additional 19% went so far as to call conditions “excellent.” Of course, by the end of that year the air had pretty much gone out of the dot-com bubble, the S&P 500 was nearly 14% off its high, and the economy was about to slip into recession.

Since then, Americans have been lukewarm at best about the economy. Even during the apparent prosperity of the mid-2000s, the share of people rating economic conditions as excellent or good never exceeded 44%, and more typically was around one-third. Even those relatively positive ratings cratered in 2008-09, and never have really recovered; the best reading during the current tepid recovery was 23% this past June.

“Now, 33% ‘good’ would be cause for a parade,” commented Carroll Doherty, the Pew Research Center’s director of political research.

In a Pew Research survey last month, just 16% of people rated economic conditions as “excellent” or “good,” while 45% rated them “only fair” and 39% “poor.” And according to a new report out today, 33% of people said they’re hearing mostly bad news about the economy, compared with 61% saying the news is mixed and only 5% saying it’s mostly good. 

The predominantly negative views don’t vary much by party, race or income level, Doherty noted.

“People have been just beaten down,” he said. “You’d need some unambiguously good news to move the needle, but every time there’s news about the economy it’s mixed. It seems as if people’s views are pretty locked in.”

Topics: National Economy

Feb 11, 2014 11:58 am

6 key findings about going to college

A new Pew Research Center report on higher education contains a number of findings about the rising value of a college degree (as well as the rising cost of not going to college). College-educated millennials are outperforming their less-educated peers on virtually every economic measure, and the gap between the two groups has only grown over time. Here are six key findings that provide a compelling answer to the question: Is going to college worth it?

1A college education is worth more today. There’s a wider earnings gap between college-educated and less-educated Millennials compared with previous generations.


2College benefits go beyond earnings: In addition to earning more, college-educated Millennials also have lower unemployment and poverty rates than their less-educated peers. They’re also more likely to be married and less likely to be living in their parent’s home.


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Topics: College, Education, Educational Attainment

Feb 11, 2014 11:54 am

Data Feed: U.S.-Cuba ties, couples and technology, children on caffeine

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

Majority of Americans favor ties with Cuba, Atlantic Council via New York Times
Congressional job approval at 12% in February, Gallup
Why it matters what the public thinks about Yellen, The Monkey Cage

Job openings and labor turnover, December 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics
February survey of consumer expectations, New York Fed
Where do low-wage workers live?, Brookings
States embrace earned-income credit, The Pew Charitable Trusts
66% of U.S. workers did not have a 4-year college degree in 2011, Cleveland Fed
How long it takes Walmart, Google, others to bring in $1 million, The Economist
Long-term labor-market consequences of the Clean Air Act, NBER

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Category: Data Feed

Feb 11, 2014 9:00 am

U.S.-French views of each other much improved as Hollande pays a visit


About six-in-ten Americans have a favorable view of France, much improved after tensions over Iraq in 2003.

As the White House prepares to host French President François Hollande for a state visit, the “freedom fries” era seems a distant memory. In 2003, angered by French opposition to the Iraq War, House leaders changed the name of French fries in three congressional cafeterias (French toast also became “freedom toast”).

A Pew Research Center poll conducted in 2003 highlighted France’s poor image among Americans at the time – just 29% gave France a favorable rating. A decade later, however, an updated survey conducted last year found twice as many (59%) expressing a positive view of the country Secretary of State John Kerry described last August as “our oldest ally.”


Still, partisan divisions linger. Two-thirds of Democrats give France a favorable rating, compared with six-in-ten independents and just half of Republicans. Among Tea Party supporters, only 39% have a positive view of France.

For their part, the French are much more positive about the U.S. than they were a decade ago. In 2013, 64% gave the U.S. a favorable rating, compared with only 42% back in 2003. President Obama, who will host Hollande for a state dinner tonight, is especially popular in France, where 83% express confidence in him. In contrast, just 20% had confidence in President George W. Bush in 2003.

The state visit takes place as Hollande deals with scandal in his private life. The French president recently separated from partner Valerie Trierweiler, following allegations that he had an affair with actress Julie Gayet. This may be less of a problem for Hollande than it would be for politicians elsewhere, however, since the French are less troubled by infidelity than others around the world. In a 39-nation 2013 Pew Research poll, France was the only country in which less than half said affairs are unacceptable. 

Category: Daily Number

Feb 11, 2014 7:00 am

Gay rights in Russia and the former Soviet republics

The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi have brought attention to a recently enacted Russian law banning the distribution of gay “propaganda” to minors. The statute has been widely criticized by Western politicians, Olympic athletes, celebrities and others.

Among the 15 countries that used to comprise the Soviet Union, Russia is not the only state to restrict LGBT speech. Laws restricting “homosexual propaganda” also have been enacted in Lithuania and in parts of Moldova.

A number of former Soviet republics are generally more restrictive of LGBT rights. For instance, in the central Asian nations of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, sexual activity between men is banned and punishable by imprisonment. (The law does not address gay women.) And while Russia gives transgendered people the right to change their genders, sex changes are outlawed in six former Soviet republics.

At the same time, some former Soviet states offer more protections for LGBT citizens than Russia does. For instance, the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) as well as Georgia and Moldova have some laws in place outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace and elsewhere.

In the run up to the Sochi Games, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country will welcome gay athletes to the Olympics. Putin’s statement came about six weeks before President Obama announced that he would not attend the Olympics and would send some openly gay athletes to represent the United States instead.

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Feb 10, 2014 2:41 pm

The Sochi effect on NBC and the morning news wars

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Gold medals may not be the only thing at stake for the next few weeks in Sochi, Russia. The Olympic Games, which air on NBC, could also affect the contest for morning news ratings, which ABC has dominated since the last Olympic Games in 2012.

FT_network-morning-news-viewershipFor years, NBC’s Today show had been the gold standard, winning the morning news ratings for 852 consecutive weeks. But ABC’s Good Morning America forged into the lead in 2012 and widened it in 2013 and early 2014, although there have been some weeks when the competition has been close. One question now is how many Americans will go to sleep with the Olympics and wake up with Today – and whether it will be enough to reverse ABC’s morning momentum. Read More

Topics: News Audience Trends and Attitudes, News Sources, State of the News Media, Television