Jan 7, 2016 7:00 am

The Middle East’s sectarian divide on views of Saudi Arabia, Iran

Wide variation in favorability of Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle EastThe recent execution of Shia leader Nimr al-Nimr, along with dozens of other prisoners, by the Saudi Arabian government has sparked a furor in the Middle East. The storming of the Saudi Embassy amid protests in Iran, a predominantly Shia Muslim nation with long-standing animosity toward predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia, has led to the cutting of diplomatic ties between the two powers. Saudi allies in the region, such as Bahrain, have followed suit.

The tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are often characterized as sectarian – that is, Iran and its Shia allies versus Saudi Arabia and its Sunni brethren. And this characterization plays out to a large degree in public attitudes toward the two countries in five Middle Eastern nations Pew Research Center surveyed in spring 2015. In Jordan, a predominantly Sunni Muslim nation, 78% of the public have a favorable view of Saudi Arabia, compared with only 8% who have a positive opinion of Iran.

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Topics: Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam

Jan 6, 2016 2:03 pm

Around half of newspaper readers rely only on print edition

This weekend, Boston Globe editorial employees received an unusual request: Could anyone run a paper route? Due to problems with the paper’s new distributor, some home subscribers had not received their print editions. About 200 Globe workers responded to the call, and hand-delivered copies to local residents.

Although the paper announced Tuesday that it was returning to its old distributor for help with home deliveries, the Globe situation is a reminder that even in the digital era, many local news consumers still rely on the print product for their news.

Around half of newspaper readers only read in print

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Topics: News Audience Trends and Attitudes, News Media Trends, News Sources, Newspapers

Jan 6, 2016 12:02 pm

A new estimate of the U.S. Muslim population

Total American Muslim population share projected to growPew Research Center estimates that there were about 3.3 million Muslims of all ages living in the United States in 2015. This means that Muslims made up about 1% of the total U.S. population (about 322 million people in 2015), and we estimate that that share will double by 2050.

Our new estimate of Muslims and other faiths is based on a demographic projection that models growth in the American Muslim population since our 2011 estimate and includes both adults and children. The projection uses data on age, fertility, mortality, migration and religious switching drawn from multiple sources, including the 2011 survey of Muslim Americans. Read More

Topics: Muslim Americans, Muslims and Islam, Population Projections, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation

Jan 5, 2016 1:11 pm

5 facts about guns in the United States

As President Barack Obama unveils a new initiative aimed at curbing gun violence this week, the public’s attitudes about gun policy will garner renewed attention. Here are some key facts about gun attitudes from recent Pew Research Center surveys:

1Partisan views of gun proposalsAmericans have shown broad and consistent support for expanded background checks for gun purchasers. In July, 85% of the public – including large majorities of both Republicans (79%) and Democrats (88%) – favored making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. There also was substantial bipartisan support for laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns.

And Pew Research isn’t the only polling organization with these findings. In 2013, a number of other polling organizations found similar results about public views of background checks, asking slightly different questions. A review of more recent polls on this question finds it’s still the case.

Other proposals were more contentious, however. Fully 85% of Democrats, but just 55% of Republicans, supported a federal database to track gun sales. And while 70% of Democrats favored a ban on assault-style weapons, only about half of Republicans (48%) did so. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Gun Control, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation

Jan 5, 2016 10:00 am

Pew Research Center will call 75% cellphones for surveys in 2016

As more Americans go mobile, Pew Research Center will conduct more survey interviews via cellphone

Pew Research Center will increase the percentage of respondents interviewed on cellphones from 65% to 75% in most of its 2016 telephone surveys. We’re making this change to ensure our survey samples properly represent the now roughly half (47%) of U.S. adults whose only phone is a cellphone.

Nine-in-ten Americans have a cellphone, and the share of adults who are cellphone-only has steadily increased since 2004, the year the government began tracking the size of this group. To keep pace with the public’s changing habits and lifestyle, we have increased the percentage of respondents interviewed by cellphone nearly every year since 2009.

Despite the prominence of cellphones in public opinion polling, many outside the field are still unclear what role these devices play in surveys. Here are some frequently asked questions: Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Polling, Research Methods, Technology Adoption

Jan 4, 2016 10:00 am

Millennials’ views of news media, religious organizations grow more negative

Millennials' ratings of news media, religious organizations declineYounger generations tend to have more-positive views than their elders of a number of institutions that play a big part in American society. But for some institutions – such as churches and the news media – Millennials’ opinions have become markedly more negative in the past five years.

Since 2010, Millennials’ rating of churches and other religious organizations has dipped 18 percentage points: 55% now say churches have a positive impact on the country compared with five years ago, when nearly three-quarters (73%) said this. Views among older generations have changed little over this time period. As a result, older generations are now more likely than Millennials – who are much less likely than their elders to be religious – to view religious organizations positively.  Read More

Topics: Business and Labor, Generations and Age, Millennials, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, Religion and Society

Dec 31, 2015 10:02 am

Your favorite Fact Tank data in 2015

When Pew Research Center started the Fact Tank data blog back in 2013, our goal was to present data that would help people better understand the news of the day. But in looking at our top blog posts of 2015, we realized that the pieces we published often made news, too. From Millennials in the workforce to religion in America, our most popular posts told important stories about trends shaping our world.

Here’s a look at some of the themes of 2015’s most popular Fact Tank posts.

1This year’s deadly attacks by radical Islamic groups sparked a hunger for information about Muslims and Islam, as evidenced by the amount of traffic reaching our posts via Web search.

Our five facts about the Muslim population in Europe answered the question: Just how large is Europe’s Muslim population, and how fast is it growing? Another post explored why Muslims are the world’s fastest-growing religious group. And our roundup of key findings about Muslims and Islam published shortly after the Paris attacks answered key questions about Muslims and the Islamic faith.

We also dug into our international polling and found that in nations we surveyed that have significant Muslim populations, there is much disdain for ISIS – but in a few countries, such as Pakistan, favorable views were not insignificant.  Read More

Topics: Education, Internet Activities, Middle Class, Millennials, Muslims and Islam, Religious Affiliation, Taxes, Unauthorized Immigration

Dec 30, 2015 12:06 pm

It’s no longer a ‘Leave It to Beaver’ world for American families – but it wasn’t back then, either

Photo credit: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
Photo credit: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

It’s less common today for American children to have a family like the ones portrayed on television in the 1950s and ’60s. One of the biggest reasons is a dramatic rise in kids living with a single parent.

How the American family has changedIn 2014, just 14% of children younger than 18 lived with a stay-at-home mother and a working father who were in their first marriage. This marks a dramatic decline from the height of the postwar baby boom, when these kinds of households were more common.

But even then, what some people hold up as the quintessential “traditional” family type was far from universal: In 1960, just half of children were living in this type of arrangement. By 1980, the share had dropped to 26%. It continued to decline until the 1990s, and has since remained fairly stable, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

One of the biggest changes has been the increase in kids living with single parents – up to 26% from 9% in 1960. An additional 7% of children today are living with two parents who are not married. This, in turn, relates to increases in divorce, as well as higher shares of births occurring outside of marriage; in 1960, 5% of births occurred to unmarried women, a share that has since increased eightfold to 40%.  Read More

Topics: Household and Family Structure, Marriage and Divorce, Population Trends, Race and Ethnicity, Work and Employment

Dec 30, 2015 7:00 am

Americans conflicted about sharing personal information with companies

A significant minority of American adults have felt confused, discouraged or impatient when trying to make decisions about sharing their personal information with companies. When asked if they felt confident they understood what would be done with their personal information as they were deciding whether or not to share it, 50% said they felt confident they understood – but 47% said they were not confident.

These new findings are from a Pew Research Center survey in early 2015 in which people were asked about their feelings as they considered sharing personal information with companies in the “last month” of when the survey was conducted.

People had different feelings on sharing personal info with companiesAs the chart illustrates, a sizable number of U.S. adults said they were confused over information provided in company privacy policies, discouraged by the amount of effort needed to understand the implications of sharing their data, and impatient because they wanted to learn more about the information-sharing process but felt they needed to make a decision right away.

These latest results add to the picture painted by several recent surveys about Americans’ views about privacy in a number of contexts.

For instance, one Pew Research Center poll found that 91% of adults “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they had lost control over how personal information was collected and used by companies. Another revealed that very few Americans felt they had a great deal of control over the data that had been collected about them and how it was used. Beyond that, the surveys showed that they had low levels of trust in the government and business sectors that they associate with data collection and monitoring; and that they had little confidence in ability of various commercial and governmental institutions to maintain the security of their personal information.

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Topics: Internet Activities, Online Privacy and Safety

Dec 29, 2015 2:33 pm

Congress’ productivity improves somewhat in 2015

Congressional ProductivityFollowing two remarkably unproductive years, Congress picked up the pace in 2015. More laws were enacted this year than in the first year of any two-year congressional term since 2009, and more substantive laws were enacted than in any first-session year since 2007.

As of Dec. 29, Congress has passed 113 measures that have been signed into law, compared with 72 in 2013 and 81 in 2011, according to the Library of Congress’ THOMAS database. (A few more still await President Obama’s signature.) Of that total, we deemed 87 to be “substantive” by our deliberately generous criteria – that is, any legislation other than renaming buildings, awarding medals, commemorating historic events and other purely ceremonial actions. By contrast, the previous two Congresses managed to pass just 63 (in 2011) and 61 (in 2013) substantive laws, respectively.

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Topics: Congress