Feb 7, 2019 10:00 am

Phone vs. online surveys: Why do respondents’ answers sometimes differ by mode?

Pew Research Center conducts public opinion surveys in the United States over the phone and, increasingly, online. But these two formats don’t always produce identical results. Respondents sometimes answer the same question differently depending on the format of the interview. This is known as a mode effect, and it’s a subject we’ve been studying for a few years now.

In our latest Methods 101 video, we look at mode effects in more detail and go over some of the ways in which survey answers can vary depending on whether respondents are talking to another person over the phone or filling out an online questionnaire by themselves.

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Topics: Telephone Survey Methods, Web Survey Methods, Research Methods

Feb 6, 2019 1:01 pm

Why we studied the possible links between religion and happiness, health and civic engagement

People who regularly attend a house of worship are more likely to be happy and civically engaged than those who do not, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of 35 countries. Whether actively religious people also are healthier is less clear.

Conrad Hackett, associate director for research and senior demographer, discusses the reasons for undertaking the study, why the subject is an important one and some of the challenges associated with trying to determine if and how religion impacts people’s well-being.

Q: How did this study come about?

Conrad Hackett, associate director of research and senior demographer at Pew Research Center

It began with a challenging question from a journal editor at Science. My colleagues and I had submitted an article to the magazine that projected the future size of religiously unaffiliated populations. The editor came back to us and asked why he or anyone should care if people identify with a religion. And I realized then that there actually isn’t much research about how people with and without a religion vary on important outcomes like health, happiness, voting and volunteering. Sure, there’s research specifically linking frequent worship attendance with some socially desirable outcomes. But in the United States and other similar nations, most people don’t regularly attend religious services. And these non-attenders include many Christians and Jews, as well as people who don’t identify with a religion. I realized answering the Science editor’s question about the consequences of religious identity would require a study comparing the actively religious, the inactively religious and “nones” on various measures of well-being across a mix of countries. So that’s what we set out to do.

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Topics: Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Life Satisfaction, Lifestyle

Feb 6, 2019 10:00 am

How highly religious Americans view evolution depends on how they’re asked about it

More than a century and a half after Charles Darwin published his groundbreaking thesis on the development of life, the subject of evolution remains a contentious one for Americans and, in particular, for those who are religious. But when it comes to exploring the views of highly religious groups – white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants – a new survey approach finds their responses vary depending on how the question is asked.

The share of white evangelical and black Protestants who say humans have evolved depend on how the question is askedOne approach in the Pew Research Center survey asked about evolution in a two-question “branched choice format.” First, survey respondents were asked if they believe humans have evolved over time. Those who said humans have evolved then branched to a second question which asked for their views about the processes behind evolution, including the role of God in those processes.

When asked this way, about two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants (66%) took a “creationist” stance, saying that “humans have always existed in their present form since the beginning of time,” consistent with past Center surveys using a branched choice format with somewhat different question wording.

How the single- and two-question formats of the evolution question differBut the results differed when the question was posed in single-question format to a random sample of respondents from the same survey. This approach asked about people’s views on whether or not human evolution has occurred, the processes behind evolution and the role of God in those processes together in one question. In this case, a 62% majority of white evangelical Protestants took the position that humans have evolved over time.

Similarly, 59% of black Protestants asked about this topic in the two-question format said humans have always existed in their present form. By contrast, with the single-question format, just 27% of black Protestants said this, while a 71% majority said humans have evolved over time.

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Topics: Religion and Society, Evolution, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Science and Innovation

Feb 5, 2019 10:00 am

Explore unauthorized immigration by state using our new interactive

Unauthorized immigrants make up a quarter of all U.S. foreign-born residents, but the share varies considerably among states. In 2016, they accounted for about a third of all immigrants in some states but fewer than one-in-ten in others, according to Pew Research Center’s recently released estimates.

The estimates also found notable differences among states in other measures, such as the share of unauthorized immigrants who are Mexican born, the share who arrived in the previous five years and the share of the labor force consisting of unauthorized immigrants.

The variations by state can be explored in a new interactive and downloadable series of a dozen maps and tables. Additional topics covered in the new maps and tables include the estimated number of unauthorized immigrants and change since 2007, their share of the population, the share of K-12 students with unauthorized immigrant parents and the top industries and occupations where unauthorized immigrants work. (Estimates are not available for states with smaller unauthorized immigrant populations because of the small sample sizes in the census survey data that are the basis for our numbers.)

Interactive: Unauthorized immigrants by state

Explore maps and tables showing detailed data on unauthorized immigrants across the country.

Also available is another previously released interactive graphic exploring population trends for states, birth countries and regions.

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Topics: Unauthorized Immigration, Global Migration and Demography, Migration, Immigration

Feb 5, 2019 7:00 am

Republicans and Democrats have grown further apart on what the nation’s top priorities should be

Republicans and Democrats have long held differing views about policy solutions, but throughout most of the recent past there was rough partisan agreement about the set of issues that were the top priorities for the nation.

Republicans and Democrats differ over key priorities for the president and Congress in 2019However, that is less and less the case. Republicans and Democrats have been moving further apart not just in their political values and approaches to addressing the issues facing the country, but also on the issues they identify as top priorities for the president and Congress to address.

For more than two decades, Pew Research Center has tracked the public’s priorities, including in our most recent survey.

While many issues are considered high priorities by majorities in both parties today, there is virtually no common ground in the priorities that rise to the top of the lists for Democrats and Republicans.

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Topics: Political Polarization, U.S. Political Parties, Political Issue Priorities

Feb 4, 2019 2:01 pm

State of the Union 2019: How Americans see major national issues

Trump delivering his first State of the Union address in 2018. His second is set for Tuesday. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead/Getty Images)

Following a political standoff that briefly delayed his annual speech to the nation, President Donald Trump will deliver his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night. The speech comes amid a debate between Trump and congressional Democrats over border security – one that recently led to the longest federal government shutdown in history.

As Trump’s speech takes the spotlight, here’s a look at public opinion on important issues facing the country, drawn from Pew Research Center’s recent surveys.

1Public's policy priorities for 2019Border wall: A majority of Americans (58%) continue to oppose substantially expanding the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January. While opinion on the wall was little changed from last year, partisan views were more divided than ever: Republican support for the wall was at a record high and Democratic support was at a new low.

A greater share of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (69%) said this year that expanding the wall would lead to a major reduction in illegal immigration than said so in 2017 (58%). Most Democrats and Democratic leaners, on the other hand, said a wall expansion would not have much impact on illegal immigration into the U.S.

2Immigration: A majority of Americans (58%) said they were not too or not at all confident in Trump’s ability to make wise decisions about immigration policy, according to the same January survey. Still, around half of U.S. adults (51%) said immigration should be a top priority for Trump and Congress this year, though Republicans (68%) were much more likely than Democrats (40%) to say this. Similarly, in a survey conducted in November, most Republicans and Republican leaners (68%) said reducing illegal immigration into the U.S. should be a top foreign policy priority, while just two-in-ten Democrats and Democratic leaners said this. Republicans were also more likely to view reducing legal immigration into the U.S. as a priority (41% vs. 14%).

The U.S. public’s views of immigrants remain largely positive, with 62% saying immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents. But while most Democrats (83%) hold that view, just 38% of Republicans said the same. Around half of Republicans (49%) and just 11% of Democrats said immigrants burden the country by taking jobs, housing and health care.

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Topics: Federal Government, Donald Trump, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Issue Priorities

Feb 1, 2019 1:33 pm

4 paths highly educated immigrants take to study and work in the U.S.

U.S. has more college-educated immigrants than other economically advanced countriesThe United States is home to more college-educated immigrants than any other country. As of 2015, there were 14.7 million immigrants ages 25 and older with a postsecondary diploma or college degree living in the U.S. – more than triple the number in Canada (4.4 million) and more than four times as many as in the United Kingdom (3.4 million), according to a recent Pew Research Center report.

But the U.S. stands out less when looking at college-educated immigrants as a share of its overall foreign-born population. About a third (36%) of all immigrants in the U.S. have a college degree, well below the shares in Canada (65%), the UK (49%) and other economically advanced countries with substantial numbers of immigrants.

President Donald Trump has expressed his support for the immigration of “talented and highly skilled people” to the U.S., and the American public appears to share that view. In a spring 2018 survey conducted as part of the Center’s recent report, 78% of U.S. adults said they support encouraging highly skilled people to immigrate to and work in the country. More than eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (83%) said this, as did 73% of Republicans and GOP leaners.

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Topics: Global Migration and Demography, Education, Migration, Work and Employment, Immigration

Feb 1, 2019 9:30 am

10 facts about Americans and Facebook

It’s been 15 years since the creation of Facebook, a platform that revolutionized social media in the United States and around the world. While Facebook remains immensely popular – and highly profitable – it has attracted scrutiny in the U.S. in recent years because of concerns over its ability to keep users’ personal information private and its role in the 2016 presidential election.

Here are 10 facts about Americans and Facebook, based on Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2018:

1Majority of Americans now use Facebook, YouTubeAround two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults use Facebook, according to a survey conducted in January 2018. That’s unchanged from April 2016, the previous time the Center asked this question, but up from 54% of adults in August 2012.

With the exception of YouTube – the video-sharing platform used by 73% of adults – no other major social media platform comes close to Facebook in terms of usage. Around a third of U.S. adults (35%) say they use Instagram, while smaller shares say they use Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp. Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.

2Among U.S. adults who use Facebook, around three-quarters (74%) visit the site at least once a day, according to the January 2018 survey. The share of adult users who visit Facebook at least once a day is higher than the shares who visit Snapchat (63%) and Instagram (60%) at least once a day. However, similar shares of Facebook and Snapchat users say they visit each site several times a day (51% and 49%, respectively).

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Topics: Online Communities, Social Media, Internet Activities, Technology Adoption, Social Networking

Jan 31, 2019 10:04 am

Are religious people happier, healthier? Our new global study explores this question

(Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images)

Studies have often credited religion with making people healthier, happier and more engaged in their communities. But are religiously active people better off than those who are religiously inactive or those with no religious affiliation? The short answer is that there is some evidence that religious participation does make a difference in some – but not all – of these areas, according to a new Pew Research Center report that looks at survey data from the United States and more than two dozen other countries.

To shed more light on this question, researchers divided survey-takers into three categories: the “actively religious,” who identify with a religion and attend a house of worship at least monthly; the “inactively religious,” who identify with a religion but attend less frequently; and the unaffiliated (or “nones”), who do not identify with any religion.

Here are five findings about the relationship between religion and health, happiness and civic engagement:

Actively religious people tend to be happier1 Actively religious people are more likely than their less-religious peers to describe themselves as “very happy” in about half of the countries surveyed.  Sometimes the gaps are striking: In the U.S., for instance, 36% of the actively religious describe themselves as “very happy,” compared with 25% of the inactively religious and 25% of the unaffiliated. Notable happiness gaps among these groups also exist in Japan, Australia and Germany.

2 There is not a clear connection between religiosity and the likelihood that people will describe themselves as being in “very good” overall health. Even after controlling for factors that might affect the results, such as age, income and gender, there are only three countries out of the 26 where the actively religious are likely to report better health than everyone else — the U.S., Taiwan and Mexico. Religiously active people also don’t seem to be any healthier by two other, more specific measures: obesity and frequency of exercise.

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Topics: Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Life Satisfaction, Lifestyle

Jan 31, 2019 7:00 am

Majority of Americans continue to say immigrants strengthen the U.S.

The American public’s views of the impact immigrants have on the country remain largely positive – and deeply partisan.

Partisan gap in views of immigrants as wide as at any point in at least 25 yearsAs in recent years, a majority (62%) say immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents. Just 28% say immigrants are a burden on the country because they take jobs, housing and health care, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.

These attitudes have changed little in the past few years, but they are very different from a quarter-century ago. In 1994, attitudes were nearly the reverse of what they are today: 63% of Americans said immigrants burdened the country and 31% said they strengthened it.

An estimated 45.1 million immigrants were living in the U.S. in 2016, accounting for 13.9% of the nation’s population. Most (76%) are in the country legally.

Republicans and Democrats have never been further apart in their views of immigrants than they are currently. Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party overwhelmingly say immigrants are a strength to the nation (83% say this); just 11% say immigrants burden the United States. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 38% say immigrants strengthen the country, while nearly half (49%) say they burden it.

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