Nov 9, 2015 11:45 am

As American homes get bigger, energy efficiency gains are wiped out

U.S. Homes More Energy-Efficient, But They Are Now Larger, TooU.S. homes have become considerably more energy-efficient over the past four decades, according to government data. But homes also are a lot bigger than they used to be, and their growing girth wipes out nearly all the efficiency gains.

According to preliminary figures from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the average U.S. home used 101,800 British thermal units (Btu) of energy per square foot in 2012, the most recent year with available data. That’s 31% less than in 1970, after adjusting for weather effects and efficiency improvements in electricity generation.

And while the total number of housing units rose by 80% over the past four decades, collectively they used just 45% more Btu than in 1970. (The government uses Btu – the amount of heat needed to raise a pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit – as a single common measure for electricity, heating fuel and other forms of household energy.)

All of this is good news for energy conservation. After all, a new Pew Research Center survey found that two-thirds of Americans say people will have to make major changes in the way they live to reduce the effects of global climate change. And many such changes can be made right at home.

But like Americans’ waistlines, U.S. homes have been expanding steadily over the years: The average home in 2012 was estimated at 1,864 square feet, 28% bigger than in 1970.

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Topics: Energy and Environment, Lifestyle

Nov 9, 2015 7:00 am

Majority of Americans say scientists don’t have an ideological slant

Most Americans say they think of scientists as neither politically liberal nor conservative, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Overall, Most Americans View Scientists as Neither Liberal Nor ConservativeThe sharp political divide between Republicans and Democrats on issues such as climate change raises the question of whether a wide range of Americans’ attitudes about science – and scientists – are viewed through a political lens.

Our survey of 2,002 adults nationwide, conducted in August 2014, suggests that’s not the case.

Some 64% of Americans perceive scientists as neither liberal nor conservative. Another 24% of adults think scientists are politically liberal and 7% say scientists are politically conservative. While the perception of scientists as politically liberal outnumbers the share saying scientists are conservative, these perceptions are roughly the same as in a 2009 Pew Research survey. Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Science and Innovation

Nov 6, 2015 11:00 am

The U.S. isn’t the only nation with big partisan divides on climate change

Climate change negotiators who will gather in Paris later this month enjoy broad public backing for their efforts, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. People polled in 40 nations that account for 76% of the world’s population say global warming is a very or somewhat serious problem, and they overwhelmingly want action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

But such broad support masks significant partisan differences in some key countries that may complicate implementation of any climate accord. Several wealthy nations, including those among the top 20 carbon dioxide-emitting nations, have strong political divisions on the issue.

Stark U.S. Partisan Differences on Climate Change

Nowhere is this partisan divide potentially more consequential for the success of any international effort to slow global warming than in the United States. Just 45% of Americans express intense concern about global warming. But Democrats (68%) are much more concerned than Republicans (20%) about climate change, a 48-percentage-point differential. And Democrats (82%) are more willing than GOP adherents (50%) to support government efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, a 32-point gap. Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, International Governments and Institutions

Nov 5, 2015 1:02 pm

Who does more at home when both parents work? Depends on which one you ask

Mothers More Likely to See an Uneven Division of Labor at HomeMoms and dads don’t necessarily see eye to eye when it comes to how certain tasks are divided at home.

More fathers than mothers in families with two full-time working parents say they and their partner share responsibilities about equally when it comes to managing the children’s schedules and activities, caring for sick kids and handling household chores, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Mothers in these families see it differently: Many say they are doing more when it comes to these tasks.

For example, in families with two full-time working parents overall, 59% of parents overall say they and their partners share household chores about equally, while 31% say the mother does more and 9% say the father does. Moms, however, are twice as likely as dads to say they handle more of these tasks. For their part, most dads see a more even division of household chores: 64% say they and their partner share this about equally.  Read More

Topics: Gender, Household and Family Structure, Parenthood, Work and Employment

Nov 5, 2015 9:45 am

7 facts about atheists

Estimating the number of atheists in the U.S. is complicated. Some adults who describe themselves as atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit. At the same time, some people who identify with a religion (e.g., say they are Protestant, Catholic or Jewish) also say they do not believe in God.

But one thing is for sure: Along with the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans (many of whom believe in God), there has been a corresponding increase in the number of atheists. Here are a few facts about this group and their beliefs:

1The share of Americans who identify as atheists has roughly doubled in the past several years. Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that 3.1% of American adults say they are atheists when asked about their religious identity, up from 1.6% in a similarly large survey in 2007. An additional 4.0% of Americans call themselves agnostics, up from 2.4% in 2007.

2Atheists, in general, are more likely to be male and younger than the overall population; 68% are men, and the median age of atheist adults in the U.S. is 34 (compared with 46 for all U.S. adults). Atheists also are more likely to be white (78% are Caucasian vs. 66% for the general public) and highly educated: About four-in-ten atheists (43%) have a college degree, compared with 27% of the general public.

3Self-identified atheists tend to be aligned with the Democratic Party and with political liberalism. About two-thirds of atheists (69%) identify as Democrats (or lean in that direction), and a majority (56%) call themselves political liberals (compared with just one-in-ten who say they are conservatives). Atheists overwhelmingly favor same-sex marriage (92%) and legal abortion (87%). In addition, three-quarters (74%) say that government aid to the poor does more good than harm.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

Nov 4, 2015 1:15 pm

How American parents balance work and family life when both work

In Nearly Half of Two-Parent Households, Both Mom and Dad Work Full-Time

Today’s American families are more likely than those of past decades to feature two full-time working parents. A new Pew Research Center report looks at how working moms and dads in two-parent households are balancing their jobs with their family responsibilities and how they view the dynamics of sharing child care and household responsibilities.

Here are some key findings from the report:

1Two-parent households with a mother who does not work outside the home have grown much less common in the U.S. since 1970. Today, both parents work full time in 46% of these households. Only about a quarter of two-parent households now consist of a full-time working father and a mother who is not employed. By comparison, in 1970, both parents worked full time in just 31% of two-parent homes, while a full-time working dad and a stay-at-home mom made up a 46% plurality of them. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Family Roles, Household and Family Structure, Parenthood, Work and Employment

Nov 4, 2015 7:00 am

Americans’ faith in God may be eroding

Declining Share of Americans Express Absolutely Certain Believe in GodGod is frequently invoked in American public life. Indeed, there is no shortage of instances of official acknowledgement of the divine, from the appearance of “In God We Trust” on our currency to the phrase “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

To be sure, the vast majority of Americans still believe in God. But there are strong signs that many are less certain about this belief than in years past. And a small but growing minority of Americans say they do not believe in God at all.

When asked if they believe in “God or a universal spirit” in the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, 89% of U.S. adults say yes – down from 92% from the previous RLS  in 2007. Nearly one-in-ten (9%) now say they don’t believe in God, up from 5% in 2007.

The changes have been even more substantial when it comes to certainty of belief in God: 63% of Americans are absolutely certain that God exists, down 8 percentage points from 2007, when 71% said this.

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Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Jews and Judaism, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Nov 3, 2015 10:00 am

A closer look at Seventh-day Adventists in America

Seventh-Day Adventists: A Small and Diverse Faith

Ben Carson’s religion has been in the spotlight in recent weeks after Donald Trump, one of Carson’s leading rivals in the Republican presidential primary, mentioned it at a Florida rally. “I’m Presbyterian,” Trump said, according to media reports. “Boy, that’s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, known for its observance of the Sabbath on Saturdays and some other unique beliefs and practices, traces its origins to the United States in the first half of the 19th century, when preacher William Miller built a religious movement around his prediction that Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1844. Since then, the church has transitioned from being seen as a cult by some Americans to a more mainstream evangelical Christian denomination.

Here are a few facts about Seventh-day Adventists in the United States today, based on the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study:


Seventh-day Adventists make up one-half of 1% of the U.S. adult population (0.5%), little changed from 2007 (0.4%). That stability stands in contrast to U.S. Christians overall, whose share of the population has dropped by nearly 8 percentage points (from 78.4% to 70.6%) over that same period.

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Topics: Christians and Christianity, Demographics, Political Attitudes and Values, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Nov 3, 2015 7:00 am

5 key findings about religiosity in the U.S. – and how it’s changing

On one level, the story of how Americans’ religious affiliations are changing is well known and straightforward: More and more U.S. adults say they do not identify with any religion, while a shrinking majority describe themselves as Christians,  according to  the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study we published in May.

But whether the country is actually becoming less religious is a more complicated question. Are its religious beliefs and practices changing beyond the declining shares of people who choose to identify with a religion?

Our second report from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study examines Americans’ religious beliefs and finds that the question of whether adults in the U.S. are becoming more or less religious depends, in part, on how religious observance is measured.

Here are five key takeaways from the report:

1Overall, Americans have become slightly less religious – based on some key traditional gauges of religiosity – since the last Religious Landscape Study was conducted in 2007. For instance, 53% of U.S. adults now say religion is very important in their lives, down from 56% in 2007. Over the same seven-year period, the share of Americans who say they are absolutely certain that God exists has dropped from 71% to 63%. And 36% of adults report attending religious services at least weekly, down 3 percentage points since 2007.  Read More

Topics: Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

Nov 2, 2015 12:31 pm

African immigrant population in U.S. steadily climbs

Immigration From Africa Surges Since 1970African immigrants make up a small share of the U.S. immigrant population, but their numbers are growing – roughly doubling every decade since 1970, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data.

There were 1.8 million African immigrants living in the U.S. in 2013, up from 881,000 in 2000 and a substantial increase from 1970, when the U.S. was home to only 80,000 foreign-born Africans. They accounted for 4.4% of the immigrant population in 2013, up from 0.8% in 1970.

The growth is evident among recently arrived immigrants. When compared with other major groups who arrived in the U.S. in the past five years, Africans had the fastest growth rate from 2000 to 2013, increasing by 41% during that period. (Africans are also a rapidly growing segment of the black immigrant population in the U.S., increasing by 137% from 2000 to 2013.)

The transatlantic slave trade beginning in the 16th century brought hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans to the U. S., but significant voluntary migration from Africa is a relatively new trend.  Read More

Topics: African Americans, Immigration Trends, Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa