Feb 6, 2014 11:52 am

Russia’s moral barometer: Homosexuality unacceptable, but drinking, less so

FT_Russia_HomosexualityThe Olympic Winter Games in Sochi have shone a spotlight on the status of gays and lesbians in Russia. In particular, attention has focused on the anti-homosexual “propaganda” law, which was approved by the Russian parliament in a 436-0 vote last June. While President Vladimir Putin has defended the legislation as non-discriminatory, the measure has generated a significant backlash among Western countries and Olympic athletes.

But when it comes to public opinion in Russia, newly released data from a 2013 Pew Research Center survey suggests a similar reaction is unlikely: nearly three-quarters of the Russian population (72%) think that homosexuality is morally unacceptable, with only 18% saying it is acceptable or not a moral issue. In Russia, homosexuality tops the list of unacceptable behaviors even in comparison to other controversial issues, such as abortion and alcohol consumption. In fact, extramarital affairs (69% unacceptable) and gambling (62%) are the only other issues tested that are frowned upon by a majority of the Russian people.

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Topics: Foreign News, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Feb 6, 2014 11:48 am

Data Feed: 2013 vote ratings, Twitter earnings, county-to-county migration

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

Partisanship demographics, plus more analysis of 2013 roll-call votes, National Journal
How 60,000 bills tried to become law – in one diagram, Sunlight Foundation
The Senate’s class system makes 2014 a tough year f0r Democrats, The Monkey Cage
65% of registered voters support online registration, The Pew Charitable Trusts
Economy and jobs, education, guns are top issues in Colorado, Quinnipiac

U.S. trade deficits widened in December as exports fell, Bureau of Economic Analysis
Employer costs for health benefits rose 3% in 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics
More than one in six men ages 25 to 54 aren’t working, The Wall Street Journal
Mommy myth: Having kids doesn’t make you less productive, Quartz
Women less likely to earn paid extended leave than men, The Huffington Post
How Twitter’s first earnings report compares to social peers, Bloomberg
Twitter’s earnings report in charts: More money from less-engaged users, Quartz
Ranks of U.S. public companies rising again, The Wall Street Journal
Productivity grows 3.2%; unit labor costs fall 1.6%, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Consumer spending; private fixed investment; oil prices and inflation, Cleveland Fed
Online help-wanted ads dip in January, The Conference Board

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Category: Data Feed

Feb 5, 2014 3:28 pm

Most Americans have negative view of Putin as Sochi games begin


About six-in-ten Americans have an unfavorable view of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a Washington Post/ABC News survey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin worked hard to get the International Olympic Committee to award this year’s winter games to Russia and then plowed about $51 billion to turn the Black Sea resort of Sochi, with its subtropical climate, into a fitting site. But if the Russian leader hoped to burnish his country’s image, and his own, the effort has fallen short —at least, with the U.S. public.

About six-in-ten (58%) Americans expressed an unfavorable view of Putin compared with 27% who saw him favorably, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News survey.

The poll also found that just half of Americans have a favorable impression of this year’s event while 40% have an unfavorable view. By comparison, 72% of Americans had a favorable view of the 2012 summer Olympics held in London, the survey noted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) tries an Olympic volunteers uniform, visiting an equipment centre in Sochi on January 4, 2014. Credit: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) tries an Olympic volunteers uniform, visiting an equipment center in Sochi on January 4, 2014. Credit: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images

A  Pew Research Center survey conducted at about the same time as the Post/ABC News poll asked whether Americans thought it had been a mistake to award the games to Russia. The survey found that 44% of Americans thought it was a bad decision compared to 32% who saw it as a good one, with the rest expressing no opinion. Among those who thought it was a bad decision, 62% cited security concerns. (The New York Times showcased a front page story on Wednesday headlined, “An Olympics in the Shadow of a War Zone”).

Russia also had to deal with bad publicity about Russia’s anti-gay policies, although the Pew Research survey found that, among Americans who thought holding the games in Russia was a mistake, only 4% cited that country’s treatment of gays and lesbians.

As for Putin’s standing with Americans, he has presided over a chilly period of relations with the U.S. since his return to the presidency in 2012. A Pew Research survey conducted last Oct. 30-Nov.6 found Russia near the bottom of a list of 12 countries when it came to how Americans viewed them. Just 32% had a favorable view of Russia, putting it just ahead of the least positively viewed country, Saudi Arabia (27%) and about the same as China (33%).

Category: Daily Number

Feb 5, 2014 11:39 am

Data Feed: So-so on Sochi, higher-ed hiring, deregulation and fast food

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

Americans are so-so on Sochi; Perceptions of Putin don’t help, ABC News/Washington Post
More than half of Americans plan to follow Olympicstopline, AP/GFK
Majority want gov’t to reduce income gap, expect terrorist attack in Sochi, CNN/ORC
Republicans closing the money gap in Senate races, The Wall Street Journal
Media make us think we’re more polarized than we really are, The Washington Post
IRS criminal prosecutions rise 23% under Obama, TRAC Syracuse

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Category: Data Feed

Feb 4, 2014 1:23 pm

The countries that will be most impacted by aging population

FT_dependcy-agingAn aging population is a looming economic and social burden, particularly in Europe and Northeast Asia, and to a lesser extent in the United States. In many of these societies, the public recognizes the problem. How this recognition affects the emerging politics of global aging — the allocation of scarce fiscal resources to pay for the pensions and health care of the elderly – could prove a defining issue in graying economies around the world for decades to come.

In their views about their own aging population, Americans, in particular, stand out. They are less worried than most Europeans and Asians, reflecting the demographic reality that the U.S. population is aging more slowly. Nevertheless, Americans’ degree of concern mirrors that in much younger societies, suggesting they may not fully appreciate their aging challenge. Read More

Topics: Population Projections

Feb 4, 2014 11:46 am

Data Feed: Olympic skepticism, consumer confidence, Super Bowl tweets

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

Public skeptical of decision to hold Winter Olympics in Russia, Pew Research Center
Deficit projected to fall in 2014 and 2015, then start rising again, CBO
Partisan voting trends in Congress, 1953-2013, CQ Roll Call
Why you shouldn’t blame polarization on partisan news, The Washington Post
Christie’s loss appears to be Clinton’s gain, CNN/ORC
Midwest business leaders back comprehensive immigration reform, Chicago Council
More House incumbents facing challenging primaries, Center for Responsive Politics
Voters prefer internet as source of election information, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Recent gains keep confidence warm in January, Reuters/University of Michigan
Federal job cuts aren’t just biting inside the Beltway, Tax Policy Center
Why more educated workers enjoy greater employment stability, Federal Reserve
Computer and electronic products are top U.S. exports to Mexico, Census Bureau
If car culture is really dying, it’s a long, slow, complicated death, Quartz

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Category: Data Feed

Feb 4, 2014 11:02 am

Facebook is a news source for many, but only incidentally

Over the past decade, Facebook has evolved from a social network for college students to a source of information, connection, entertainment — and, sometimes, news — for 1.2 billion people around the world. But according to a Pew Research Center report from last year, most Americans who get news via Facebook do so as a byproduct of their other activities there — what one might call “drive-by news”.

About half (47%) of adult U.S. Facebook users said they had ever gotten news via the service — equivalent to 30% of the adult population, the survey found. But the overwhelming majority (78%) of that subgroup said they picked up news from Facebook when they were on the site for some other reason; just 4% said Facebook was their most important news source. Read More

Topics: News Sources, Social Media, Social Networking

Feb 4, 2014 10:05 am

Overseas users power Facebook’s growth; more going mobile-only


The number of Facebook users who log into the social-networking service or share content through it on any given day.

Facebook-Growth_1Ten years ago today, a little website called thefacebook.com was launched. Initially restricted to Harvard undergraduates, the site had 1 million users by the end of 2004. Today, Facebook (“the” was dropped in 2005) has more than 1.2 billion “monthly active users” around the world. As of December, the company says 757 million people used the social-networking service on any given day.

These days, Facebook’s strongest growth is coming from overseas. The monthly user base (defined as those who accessed the site at least once in the previous 30 days) grew just 4.1% in the U.S. and Canada last year, according to the company’s annual 10-K report. In Europe, it grew by 8%; in Asia, 23.5% (including Australia and New Zealand); and in the rest of the world, it grew by 23.7%. American and Canadian users, in fact, now make up less than a sixth of Facebook’s total user base. Read More

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Social Media, Social Networking

Feb 3, 2014 5:44 pm

Coke, “America the Beautiful,” and the language of diversity

Coca-Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” ad, that aired during Sunday night’s Super Bowl, sought to portray ethnic diversity in the U.S. by featuring “America the Beautiful” sung in several languages. The many different kinds of people in the ad – Hispanics, cowboys, Muslims, Jews and Asians – were all implicitly united by their identity as “American.”

But not everyone was happy with Coke’s celebration of diversity in the country. After the ad was aired, Twitter lit up with commentary  under various hashtags (such as #SpeakAmerican) critical of the company. Some commenters found it disrespectful to sing “America the Beautiful” in any language other than English, while others said immigrants need to learn English to live in the United States.

FT_Coke_LanguageSo how linguistically diverse is the United States? Data from the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) show that 21% of Americans age five or older  speak a language other than English at home. Among this group, a majority say they speak English “very well” (58%), and 19% say they speak English “well.” Roughly one-in-seven (15%) of those who speak a language other than English at home say they do not speak English well, and 7% report having no English language skill at all.

Other than English, the language most commonly spoken by Americans is Spanish. ACS data show that 37.6 million Americans age five or older speak Spanish in their home. Other languages, including ones highlighted by the Coke commercial, have a much more limited presence. Chinese is spoken by 2.8 million Americans, Tagalog by 1.7 million Americans and Korean by 1.1 million Americans age five or older.

The eight languages shown in the accompanying chart account for 83% of those Americans who speak a language other than English at home. In all,  there are 381 languages spoken in the U.S. that are counted by the Census Bureau, and detailed information is available for 106 of them.

Topics: Demographics, Internet Activities, Language, Television

Feb 3, 2014 1:08 pm

10 projections for the global population in 2050

A new Pew Research Center report examines global public opinion on the challenges posed by aging populations and analyzes projections for the populations in the U.S. and in 22 other countries. Here are 10 major findings regarding the demographic future of the world’s population in 2050.

1The global population is getting older: The number of people 65 and older is projected to triple by mid-century, from 531 million in 2010 to 1.5 billion in 2050. In the U.S., the population of seniors is expected to slightly more than double, from 41 to 86 million.


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Topics: Population Geography, Population Projections, Population Trends