Jan 21, 2016 11:59 am

Americans may be getting less religious, but feelings of spirituality are on the rise

Growing share of people regularly feel spiritual peace, sense of wonderThe phrase “spiritual but not religious” has become widely used in recent years by some Americans who are trying to describe their religious identity. While Pew Research Center does not categorize survey respondents in such a way, our surveys do find that the U.S. public overall appears to be growing a bit less religious – but also somewhat more spiritual.

Americans have become less religious in recent years by standard measures such as how important they say religion is to them and their frequency of religious service attendance and prayer. But, at the same time, the share of people across a wide variety of religious identities who say they often feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being as well as a deep sense of wonder about the universe has risen. Read More

Topics: Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

Jan 21, 2016 10:00 am

Refugee crises, climate change are top risks in next 10 years, experts say

Large-scale refugee flows and lack of progress in slowing global warming are the top risks that the world faces in the coming decade, according to a survey by the World Economic Forum of executives and experts from the fields of business, academia, civil society, government and international organizations.

The more than 700 respondents to the survey named “large-scale involuntary migration” as the most likely global risk over the next 10 years, while pointing to “failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation” as the risk that could have the greatest impact on the world.

Top global risks

The poll was conducted in the fall of 2015, and the experts might have been responding, in part, to current events at the time. The refugee crisis spawned by the ongoing conflict in Syria has been a consistent thread in many news stories, from terrorist attacks in Paris and Turkey, to anti-refugee sentiments in Eastern Europe, to sexual assaults in Germany. Recently, much of the world was also focused on climate change, as 195 nations met in December at the United Nations’ Paris conference to agree on a plan that would keep the rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.

Read More

Topics: Economic Recession, Energy and Environment, International Governments and Institutions, International Organizations, International Threats and Allies, Migration, Terrorism, World Economies

Jan 20, 2016 7:00 am

The state of privacy in America: What we learned

After the June 2013 leaks by government contractor Edward Snowden about National Security Agency surveillance of Americans’ online and phone communications, Pew Research Center began an in-depth exploration of people’s views and behaviors related to privacy. Our recent report about how Americans think about privacy and sharing personal information was a capstone of this two-and-a-half-year effort that examined how people viewed not only government surveillance but also commercial transactions involving the capture of personal information.

Here are some of the key findings that emerged from this work:

1Personal information onlineFully 91% of adults agree or strongly agree that consumers have lost control of how personal information is collected and used by companies. Half of internet users said they worry about the amount of information available about them online, and most said they knew about key pieces of their personal information that could be found on the internet. Only 9% say they feel they have “a lot” of control over how much information is collected about them and how it is used. Indeed, experts we canvassed about the future of privacy argued that privacy was no longer a “condition” of American life. Rather, they asserted that it was becoming a commodity to be purchased. Read More

Topics: National Security, Online Privacy and Safety

Jan 19, 2016 11:15 am

Key facts about immigrants eligible for deportation relief under Obama’s expanded executive actions

Who would benefit from Obama’s executive actions on deportation relief?The U.S. Supreme Court is expected in April to hear a lawsuit by Texas and 25 other states that seeks to block presidential executive actions offering deportation relief and work permits to unauthorized immigrants.

The executive actions build on 2012’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which granted relief to young adults who came to the U.S. as children. This program has resulted in nearly 700,000 people receiving relief, though advocates said the action did not go far enough.

The expanded programs, which include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and an expanded DACA, were announced in November 2014 and are on hold due to the lawsuit. They could make an additional 3.9 million unauthorized immigrants eligible for deportation relief and work permits, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2012 data.

Here are key facts about those who could be newly eligible under Obama’s 2014 executive actions:

1The largest group who could be eligible for relief are the estimated 3.5 million unauthorized immigrant parents to whom DAPA would apply. Immigrants in this category have lived in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010, and have children who either were born in the U.S. or are legal permanent residents. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Barack Obama, Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration

Jan 18, 2016 7:00 am

5 facts about race in America

Ever since it was first observed as a national holiday in 1986, Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been a time for reflection on the state of race relations in the U.S. and how much progress has been made – or not – in achieving racial equality.

Pew Research Center has tracked this subject over time. Here are five of our key findings:

1About six-in-ten Americans say the country needs to continue making changes to assure that blacks have equal rights with whites, according to our July 2015 poll. This marks a substantial increase from 2014, when public opinion was much more closely divided. Underlying that majority is a significant racial divide: 86% of blacks say more needs to be done to achieve racial equality, compared with 53% of whites. However, the share of whites who see the need for change significantly increased from 39% a year earlier.

A majority of Americans says the nation needs to make changes to give blacks equal rights.

Growing share of Americans view racism as a "big problem."2A growing share of Americans say that racism in society is a big problem. Half of Americans now say this, up from 33% five years earlier, reflecting an increase across all demographic groups. Nearly three-quarters of blacks characterized racism as a big problem, as did 58% of Hispanics. Although whites were far less likely to say racism is a big problem (44%), the share of whites expressing this view has risen 17 percentage points since 2010. There is a partisan divide too: 61% of Democrats say racism is a big problem, compared with 41% of Republicans – though the share of Republicans saying racism is a big problem has doubled since 2010, when it was just 17%.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Income Inequality, Race and Ethnicity

Jan 14, 2016 11:55 am

Wikipedia at 15: Millions of readers in scores of languages

English version of Wikipedia gets more than six times as many page views as next largest language versionWikipedia turns 15 on Friday. A key element in its creators’ vision of a user-generated online encyclopedia was to make it a repository of information serving audiences in multiple languages. The first non-English versions launched shortly after the Wikipedia’s founding in 2001, with offerings in six languages – German, Catalan, Swedish, French, Spanish and Russian. Today, the site is available in 280 languages. A new Pew Research Center analysis of the most visited pages in each of Wikipedia’s top 10 languages provides a window on how people in different societies and cultures use the international reference tool.

Wikipedia averages more than 18 billion page views per month, making it one of the most visited websites in the world, according to Alexa.com, a Web tracking company owned by Amazon. The site adds more than 20,000 new articles each month and has 27 million registered users, according to data reported by Wikipedia.

To compare different language versions of Wikipedia, Pew Research Center drew on data from stats.wikimedia.org – Wikimedia is the foundation that runs Wikipedia – for the number of overall page views. For the data regarding the top pages by language, we compiled and analyzed hourly raw page count files posted by Wikimedia. Additional analysis was performed using data compiled by Wikitrends, an independent site run by Johan Gunnarsson and based on data from Wikipedia. Read More

Topics: Information Seeking, Language

Jan 14, 2016 10:04 am

Dangers that teens and kids face: A look at the data

American parents' concerns for their childrenWorrying about your kids is one of the defining traits of being a parent. But the nature of that worrying varies considerably across demographic groups, according to a recent Pew Research Center report.

Low-income parents, for instance, are more concerned about teen pregnancy and their kids getting in trouble with the law than are higher-income parents. Black parents are more likely than white parents to worry about their children being shot, while white parents are more likely than black parents to worry that their children will struggle with anxiety or depression. Hispanic parents worry more than black or white parents about all eight measures we asked about, from being bullied to having problems with drugs or alcohol (a trend driven primarily by foreign-born Hispanics, who tend to have lower incomes and less education).

To examine the actual incidence of the areas of concern discussed in the Center’s report, we analyzed national statistics from a variety of sources on getting shot, getting in trouble with the law, teen pregnancy, kidnappings, drug and alcohol use, anxiety/depression, getting beat up and being bullied. Here’s what we found: Read More

Topics: Parenthood, Teens and Youth

Jan 14, 2016 8:00 am

How Americans balance privacy concerns with sharing personal information: 5 key findings

Many Americans are in an “It depends” frame of mind when they consider a central trade-off of the digital era: Will you share personal information in return for a product, service or other benefit?

A new report from Pew Research Center explores six different scenarios where Americans might encounter that privacy-related question. It finds that people consider a variety of things in making their decisions, such as the value of the benefit they are being offered, the circumstances of their lives, how they feel about the organization that is collecting the data, what happens to their personal data after it is captured and how long the data are retained.

This report builds on other recent Pew Research Center survey results showing the emotions Americans feel as they struggle to understand the terms that govern sharing personal information with companies.

Here are some of the main insights from the survey and focus groups that were conducted for this research:

1Different bargains have different value to Americans. A trade-off considered acceptable by 54% of Americans was having surveillance cameras in the office in order to improve workplace security and help reduce thefts. On the other hand, a scenario involving the use of a “smart thermostat” in people’s homes that might save energy costs in return for insight about people’s comings and goings was deemed “acceptable” by only 27% of adults, while 55% saw it as “not acceptable.”

How Americans balance privacy concerns with sharing personal information Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Information Seeking, Online Privacy and Safety

Jan 12, 2016 10:00 am

Presidential job approval ratings from Ike to Obama

Perhaps no measure better captures the public’s sentiment toward the president than job approval. It dates back to the earliest days of public opinion polling, when George Gallup asked about Franklin D. Roosevelt starting in the 1930s:

“Do you approve or disapprove of the way ____ is handling his job as president?”

Our poll in December 2015 showed that 46% of Americans approve of Barack Obama’s job performance – a rating that’s been steady throughout 2015, and is up 4 percentage points from a year prior.

Digging deeper into job approval ratings reveals additional insights about the public’s views of its leaders. We looked at Pew Research Center data going back to Bill Clinton, and Gallup data going back to Dwight Eisenhower. These ratings reflect, for example, how views of presidents have become more politically polarized, as well as how key events in U.S. history have helped shape positive and negative views of our commanders in chief.

1Views of the president among members of the opposing party have steadily become more negative over time. Our 2014 report on political polarization documented this dramatic growth in partisan divisions over views of presidential job performance. Over the course of Obama’s presidency, his average approval rating among Democrats has been 80%, compared with just 14% among Republicans.

During Eisenhower’s two terms, from 1953 to 1960, an average of 49% of Democrats said they approved of the job the Republican president was doing in office. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, an average of 31% of Democrats approved of his job performance. And just over a quarter (27%) of Republicans offered a positive assessment of Clinton between 1993 and 2000. But the two most recent presidents – George W. Bush and Obama – have not received even this minimal level of support.

Polarization and presidential approval: supporters stay loyal, opposition intensifies Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Political Polarization, Presidential Approval, U.S. Political Figures

Jan 11, 2016 10:01 am

Before Obama’s last State of the Union, a look back at his early hopes

After rough start, modest economic growth during Obama's termPresident Obama isn’t expected to use his final State of the Union address Tuesday night to lay out a list of legislative proposals, as such speeches typically do. Instead, he reportedly will use the address both to look back on what he considers his administration’s major accomplishments, and to discuss more broadly “what we all need to do together in the years to come [to] guarantee an even stronger, better, more prosperous America.”

Given that, we decided to look back at Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress, in February 2009 – a State of the Union speech in all but name. We wanted to see what his priorities were, how they compared with the public’s priorities at the time, and what’s happened on those issues in the years since. We looked at the three issues at the top of the public’s list of domestic priorities for 2009, as measured by a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January of that year: the economy, jobs and terrorism. We also examined two other issues that Obama discussed at length in his speech that year: health care and education. (The Center will report data on the public’s policy priorities for 2016 later this month.)  Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Economic Recession, Educational Attainment, Health Care, National Economy, Terrorism, U.S. Political Figures