Recent developments in Croatia and Scotland highlight a stark divide between Eastern and Western Europe on the topic of same-sex marriage. While several nations in Western Europe have made it legal for gay and lesbian couples to wed with broad public support, other countries across the continent are overwhelmingly opposed to such laws.
Voters in Croatia approved a constitutional amendment on Dec. 1 that defines marriage as a “union of man and woman,” with 66% of votes cast favoring the change. At the same time, Scotland’s government appears to be on track to join neighbors England and Wales, which legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year.
A May 2013 online poll conducted by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) found majorities in several Western European countries in favor of marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, with those in the Netherlands (85%), Germany (74%), Belgium and Spain (71% each) expressing the most support. In Scotland, the percentage of people who favor same-sex marriage has increased from 41% in 2002 t0 61% in 2010, according to the latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Read More →
After the horrific shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., a year ago claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, there was a sense in the country – especially among gun-control supporters – that the tragedy would be different from similar ones in the past and push the nation to action. But ultimately, a sustained change in public opinion did not materialize, and a bill to tighten gun laws died in the Senate.
The idea that Newtown might lead to a sea change in public opinion on gun control had some basis in a Pew Research Center survey conducted less than a week after the shootings. About half of Americans (49%) said it was more important to control gun ownership while 42% said it was more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns. Although the numbers added up to just a modest change, it was the first time during Barack Obama’s presidency that more Americans came down on the side of making gun control the priority.
Another survey conducted right after the shootings found that Americans viewed Newtown differently than they did the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo., in 2012 that left 12 dead and the Jan. 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shootings that killed six people and seriously wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others.
After Newtown, 47% of those surveyed said that the shootings reflected broader problems in American society, while 44% believed they were isolated acts of troubled individuals. In the two other mass shooting incidents, the public largely viewed them as isolated acts. Read More →
Topics: Gun Control
When asked about how stores should greet their customers over the holidays, 42% of Americans prefer “Merry Christmas,” 12% prefer “Happy Holidays” and 46% say it doesn’t matter.
Whether or not there is a “War on Christmas” in the United States, as some commentators believe, there’s plenty of discussion about the topic. In Texas earlier this week, for instance, a state legislator who sponsored a new law protecting traditional holiday greetings in public schools said he hoped other states would follow Texas’ example in standing “in defense of Christmas.”
Last December, the Pew Research Center asked Americans whether they prefer stores and businesses to greet their customers by saying “Merry Christmas,” or “less religious terms such as ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘Season’s Greetings.’” The survey asked the question in two different ways to two different groups:
• A random half of respondents were asked to choose a preference between “Merry Christmas” and the less religious terms.
• The other half were asked a version that included those two options, then added “or doesn’t it matter to you?” at the end.
When the question is presented as a choice between “Merry Christmas” and the less religious terms, 57% pick “Merry Christmas” and 27% select the less religious terms. (In this instance, even without “it doesn’t matter” presented as an option, 15% volunteer that they don’t have a preference.)
But when “it doesn’t matter” is added as an option, it draws roughly the same amount of support as “Merry Christmas”; 42% say they prefer “Merry Christmas,” 12% prefer the less religious terms and 46% say it doesn’t matter. There has been almost no change since 2005, when we asked the same question.
In either case, there is a significant split between Republicans and Democrats on the question; Republicans strongly prefer the Christmas greeting. For example, when “it doesn’t matter” is included as an option, 63% of Republicans or those who lean Republican say they prefer “Merry Christmas,” while 5% choose “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” and 32% say it doesn’t matter. Among Democrats or those who lean Democratic, 28% prefer “Merry Christmas,” 17% opt for the less religious terms and 55% say it doesn’t matter.
Category: Daily Number
Women’s labor force participation has surged in recent decades, driven largely by increases in labor force participation among women with young children, according to a new Pew Research Center report. At the same time, fathers—virtually all of whom are in the labor force—are also taking on more child care responsibilities, as fatherhood has grown to encompass far more than just bringing home the bacon.
Despite these transformations, the U.S. government support for working parents remains very limited, compared with 37 other nations, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The chart shows the number of weeks of federally-protected time off, as well as the amount of time off that is paid in full, available to employed new mothers in each country. The bars combine both maternity leave and parental leave (which is available to either a new mother or a new father).
The data do not address paid leave or other accommodations that individual employers make available to employees or guarantees provided by a few individual states.
Of the 38 countries represented, the U.S. is the only one that does not mandate any paid leave for new mothers. In comparison, Estonia offers about two years of paid leave, and Hungary and Lithuania offer one-and-a-half years or more of fully-paid leave. The median amount of fully-paid time off available to a mom for the birth of a child is about five-to-six months. Read More →
Pope Francis began this year as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentine archbishop. He finishes it as Time magazine’s Person of the Year, beating out contenders such as Edward Snowden after a whirlwind of activity that included news-making comments about homosexuality and other social issues, as well as an apostolic exhortation that focused on caring for the poor and inveighed against the “idolatry of money.”
Polls show Francis to be highly popular, especially among U.S. Catholics. A Washington Post-ABC poll, released today, finds that 92% of American Catholics have a favorable impression of him, including 63% who have a “strongly favorable” view. Similarly, 85% of Catholics in the United States say they approve of the direction in which Francis is leading the Catholic Church, including 54% who strongly approve. Read More →
When Mary Barra takes over next month as CEO of General Motors, the automaker will become the nation’s biggest company run by a woman (based on GM’s $152.3 billion in revenue last year). But Barra’s ascension won’t much change women’s overall representation in corporate America’s corner offices.
Currently, 45 Fortune 1000 companies have women as their chief executives. There will be 46 women CEOs in that elite group as of January, when Barra takes the reins at GM, Jacqueline Hinman becomes CEO of engineering giant CH2M Hill and Linda Lang is scheduled to step down as chief of Jack in the Box. Read More →
About six-in-ten of Americans say they want lawmakers to be more willing to compromise on budget issues even if it meant they “reached a deal you disagreed with.”
While it’s far from the “grand bargain” on the budget President Obama wanted to strike with Republicans, House and Senate negotiators agreed Tuesday on a deal that would end for now the cycle of partisan standoffs such as the one that led to October’s government shutdown.
The agreement has already drawn criticism from some conservative Republicans and still must be approved by Congress, but in reaching an agreement that would break the cycle of budget crises, negotiators were doing what the public has long said it wanted — to see lawmakers be willing to compromise.
Category: Daily Number
Women earned 84 cents for every $1 made by men in 2012, according to a new report released today by the Pew Research Center.
One reason is that our study estimates the gender gap in hourly earnings while the government estimates the gap in weekly earnings. We chose to use hourly earnings, estimated as usual weekly earnings divided by usual hours worked in a week, because it irons out differences in earnings due to differences in hours worked.
For example, women are twice as likely as men—26% versus 13%—to work part-time. Naturally, that has a significant impact on the relative earnings of women and men if one looks at weekly earnings. To account for the skew in hours worked, the government’s estimate of the gender pay gap is derived for full-time workers only, defined by the government as people who usually work at least 35 hours per week. Read More →
About half of Americans think the government hasn’t gone far enough in regulating financial institutions following the 2007-08 financial crisis.
Federal regulators today voted to approve the “Volcker Rule,” aimed at limiting risk-taking by big Wall Street banks. Under discussion for nearly five years, the rule (named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who proposed it), the rule is a prime example of the sort of tighter regulation that many — but by no means all — Americans support.
A previously released Pew Research Center survey in September found that about half (49%) of Americans say the government hasn’t gone far enough in regulating markets and financial institutions. But 43% said government regulations have gone too far, making it harder for the economy to grow.
As with so many other issues, views of financial regulation are sharply split along party lines, the Pew Research survey found. 64% of Republicans said regulations had gone too far, versus 32% who said they hadn’t gone far enough; Democrats were almost exactly the opposite, with 62% saying regulations hadn’t gone far enough and 26% saying they’d gone too far.
In its essence, the Volcker Rule bars banks from trading for their own gain and limits their ability to invest in hedge funds. But as regulators grappled with the complexities of modern banking, and banks fought back against what they saw as unwarranted restrictions on their activities, that seemingly simple rule grew and grew: The final version runs 71 pages, plus nearly 900 pages of interpretation.
Category: Daily Number
Many of the nation’s estimated 1,600 college newspapers are now experimenting with editorial and business innovations in the face of some of the same economic hardships that have hit the rest of the newspaper industry.
There is little hard data on the student newspaper field compared to that of the widely-studied commercial side, but these publications also struggle with issues ranging from the balance between print and digital to diminishing advertising revenue.