Mar 19, 2015 11:31 am

How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago

The past five decades – spanning from the time when the Silent generation (today, mostly in their 70s and 80s) was entering adulthood to the adulthood of today’s Millennials – have seen large shifts in U.S. society and culture. It has been a period during which Americans, especially Millennials, have become more detached from major institutions like political parties, religion, the military and marriage. At the same time, the racial and ethnic makeup of the country has changed, college attainment has spiked, and women have greatly increased their participation in the nation’s workforce and their representation on college campuses.

Our new interactive graphic (above) compares the generations today and in the years that each generation was young (ages 18 to 33) to demonstrate this sea change in the activities and experiences of young adults that has occurred over the past 50 years.

Our analysis finds several key distinctive ways that Millennials stand out when compared with the Silent generation, a group of Americans old enough to be grandparents to many Millennials:

Millennials On Track to be the Most Educated Generation to Date1Today’s young adults (Millennials ages 18 to 33 in 2014) are much better educated than the Silent generation. The educational trajectory of young women across the generations has been especially steep. Among Silent generation women, only 7% had completed at least a bachelor’s degree when they were ages 18 to 33. By comparison, Millennial women are nearly four times (27%) as likely as their Silent predecessors to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Educational gains are not limited to women, as Millennial men are also better educated than earlier generations of young men. About 21% of Millennial men have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with only 12% of their young Silent counterparts. These higher levels of educational attainment among those ages 18 to 33 suggest that Millennials, especially Millennial women – while not currently ahead of Gen Xers and Boomers in 2014 – are on track to be our most educated generation by the time they complete their educational journeys. Read More

Topics: Educational Attainment, Generations and Age, Millennials, Work and Employment

Mar 19, 2015 9:55 am

Key takeaways on technology use in emerging and developing nations

A new Pew Research Center report of 32 emerging and developing countries looks at how the increasing use of the internet affects people’s daily lives in places around the globe. A picture emerges from the survey of how people perceive the internet’s impact on their lives, how many people access it and who they are, and what people are doing online. We also looked at smartphone and cell phone ownership rates, as well as the types of activities people do on their mobile devices.

Here are five key takeaways from this report, which is based on a survey of 36,619 people from spring 2014:

Internet Influence Seen as Positive in Emerging and Developing Nations; Morality an Exception1People see the internet as a good influence on education, but are skeptical of its effect on morality. Overall, people in the emerging and developing countries surveyed see the internet as having a positive effect on education, personal relationships and the economy. But they are wary about its impact on politics and especially on morality. A median of 42% across 32 countries say that the internet is a bad influence on morality.

2The young, well-educated and English speakers use the internet more frequently. The internet is not pervasive everywhere. In fact, less than half of people in 19 of the 32 countries surveyed say they access the internet at least occasionally or own a smartphone. But young people (18-34 years old), the better educated (secondary or more education) and those who have at least some ability to read and speak English are consistently much more likely than others to be online. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Internet Activities, Technology Adoption

Mar 18, 2015 2:04 pm

Americans (especially Republicans) distrustful of Iran as nuclear deal looms

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Switzerland this week to try to reach a framework deal on the future status of Iran’s nuclear program. The two are joined by negotiators from the other P5+1 countries (Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia) in an attempt to break a years-long impasse.

It is difficult to predict how the public might react to an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. But polls conducted over the past two years portray a public deeply concerned over the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran and distrustful of Iran’s leaders. And when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program, as with so many other issues, there are deep divisions in the way that Republicans and Democrats view the situation.

Partisan Differences in Views of Iran

A poll last August showed that 59% of Americans saw Iran’s nuclear program as a major threat to the United States. Concern was especially strong among Republicans (74% major threat), while 56% of Democrats and 54% of independents agreed. Read More

Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy, Middle East and North Africa, Nuclear Threats, U.S. Political Parties

Mar 18, 2015 12:04 pm

Where Christian churches, other religions stand on gay marriage

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) joined other religious groups Tuesday in a vote that formally sanctions same-sex marriage. The 1.7 million-member church voted to amend its constitution to allow gay marriage ceremonies, a move widely anticipated after a step the church took last summer to allow its clergy to marry same-sex couples.

The debate within the church has already led some congregations to break away and join other, more conservative Presbyterian denominations, and the vote could prompt even more defections. At the same time, the church’s decision could influence other centrist and liberal mainline Protestant churches that have grappled with the issue but have not formally agreed to allow same-sex unions.

Where Major Religions Stand on Same-Sex Marriage

In the past two decades, several other religious groups 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: Christians and Christianity, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Mar 17, 2015 11:58 am

The fading of the green

In the U.S., Irish ancestry is decliningOn this St. Patrick’s Day, here’s news that might dampen the party: The ranks of Americans who trace their ancestry back to Ireland – long one of the most prominent subgroups in American society – are slowly declining.

In 2013, 33.3 million Americans, or one-in-ten, identified themselves as being of Irish ancestry, making it the second-largest ancestry group in the U.S. after Germans. In addition, nearly 3 million Americans claimed Scotch-Irish ancestry, or just under 1% of the entire population. (The Scotch-Irish were mainly Ulster Protestants who migrated to the British colonies in the decades before independence, while Irish Catholics didn’t begin arriving in large numbers until the 1840s.) By comparison, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have a combined population of about 6.5 million. Read More

Topics: Demographics, Race and Ethnicity

Mar 16, 2015 7:00 am

Stock market leads recovery, but inflation cuts into gains

Has the Nasdaq Really Recovered?

Stocks have been the most robust component of the nation’s up-to-recently spotty recovery from the Great Recession. Broad indices such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 have long since surpassed their pre-crash highs. Even the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite, which plunged during the dot-com bust and remained depressed for years afterward, is close to the all-time high it set back in March 2000.

Small wonder, then, that 31% of Americans say the stock market has fully recovered from the recession, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, and 47% say it has partially recovered. Overall, more Americans see full or partial recovery in stocks than in any other aspect of the economy we asked about (jobs, incomes, real estate). Read More

Topics: National Economy

Mar 13, 2015 9:30 am

Study finds racial, ethnic divide in attention to crime news

Crime consistently ranks as one of the most followed and discussed topics by the public, and it receives more attention in local news media than almost any other subject. A recent Pew Research Center report reinforces these findings but also suggests that certain groups of residents pay closer attention to local crime than others in the three cities studied. A difference that particularly stands out is between racial and ethnic groups.

A deep analysis of local news in Denver, Macon, Ga., and Sioux City, Iowa, finds that in each city at least three-in-ten people follow crime very closely and more than half of residents often discuss crime with others.

Blacks in Macon and Hispanics in Denver More Likely than Whites to Follow and Discuss Local CrimeInterest in crime, though, is not equal across all residents in these cities, as seen in Denver and Macon, where racial and ethnic subgroups were large enough to analyze.

In Denver, Hispanics (19% of the city’s population) follow crime news very closely at nearly twice the rate of whites, 49% versus 26%. And seven-in-ten Hispanics in Denver often discuss crime news, compared with 49% of whites. Read More

Topics: News Interest, News Media Trends, Race and Ethnicity

Mar 13, 2015 7:00 am

Pope Francis’ popularity extends beyond Catholics

As Pope Francis approaches the second anniversary of his election to the papacy, he is riding a growing wave of popularity in the United States – not just among Catholics, but also in the eyes of non-Catholics, including those who have no religious affiliation.

Trends in Papal Favorability, by ReligionIn a Pew Research Center survey conducted last month, Pope Francis enjoyed a 90% favorability rating among U.S. Catholics. In addition, Francis now is rated favorably by 70% of all Americans, up from 57% in March 2013.

Francis is popular even among those without a religious affiliation. Fully two-thirds of religious “nones” (68%) in the most recent Pew Research poll say they view the current pontiff favorably, up from just 39% in March 2013. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Religious Affiliation, Religious Leaders

Mar 12, 2015 1:59 pm

How do Americans stand out from the rest of the world?

Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville (Theodore Chasseriau/Wikimedia Commons)

The differences between America and other nations have long been a subject of fascination and study for social scientists, dating back to Alexis de Tocqueville, the early 19th century French political thinker who described the United States as “exceptional.”

Nearly 200 years later, Americans’ emphasis on individualism and work ethic stands out in surveys of people around the world. When Pew Research Center surveyed people in 44 countries last spring, 57% of Americans disagreed with the statement “Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,” a higher percentage than most other nations and far above the global median of 38%. Read More

Topics: Religion and Society, Social Values

Mar 11, 2015 7:00 am

Jobs situation looks brighter as employers seek to fill more positions

Since Recession's End, Fewer Unemployed and More Job Openings

While two-thirds of Americans see at least some improvement in the jobs situation from the depths of the Great Recession, most (60%) say the jobs recovery has been only partial, according to a Pew Research Center report earlier this month. But by at least one measure – the number of unemployed people per job opening – things are just about back to normal.

In January, there were 1.8 unemployed people per open position, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (or JOLTS) and jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that may sound disheartening, it’s actually well within pre-recession norms: Between January 2005 and December 2007, the number of unemployed people per opening varied between 1.45 and 2.17, and averaged 1.68 over the entire three-year period. Read More

Topics: Economic Recession, National Economy, Work and Employment