Apr 29, 2014 11:40 am

Kaiser: Majority of Americans back health law mandate on contraceptive coverage

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments on two challenges to the health care law’s mandate that requires many employers to include contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans. But whatever the justices decide, the mandate has the support of a majority of the public, according to a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll released today.

Over four-in-ten (44%) Americans said they followed news coverage of the cases “very” or “fairly closely,” which was a higher percentage than some other issues that have come before the court in Pew Research’s own polling.  Read More

Topics: Health Care, Religion and Society

Apr 28, 2014 12:30 pm

Americans agree inequality has grown, but don’t agree on why

Chart listing some of the reasons Americans give for economic inequalityIssues of economic inequality (however one defines it) are a part of the public discussion in a way they haven’t been for a long time, driven both by economists such as Thomas Piketty and people’s own experiences since the 2007-09 global financial panic. Americans have few doubts that inequality has grown: In a Pew Research Center survey from January, about two-thirds of respondents (65%) said the gap between the rich and everyone else has increased over the past decade, versus just 8% who said it’s decreased.

But ask people why the gap has grown, and their answers are all over the place.

Among people who said the gap between the rich and everyone else has grown, we asked an “open-ended question” — what, in their own words, the main reason was. About a fifth (20%) said tax loopholes (or, more generally, tax laws skewed to favor the rich) were the main reason. Ten percent pinned the blame on Congress or government policies more broadly; about as many (9%) cited the lackluster job market, while 6% named corporations or business executives. Read More

Topics: Income Inequality, National Economy

Apr 28, 2014 11:15 am

Data Feed: More low-wage jobs, political implications of immigration reform, the rising retirement age

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Poll shows problems for Obama, peril for Senate Democrats, National Journal/Allstate
Democrats’ midterm turnout problem is worst in North Carolina, The Upshot/NYT
How immigration reform could change political landscape, Washington Post
Colorado voters feel good about legalized marijuana, Quinnipiac
Legislative Explorer: Visualizing the lawmaking process, U. of Washington via FlowingData
A history of Maine gubernatorial rematches, University of Minnesota

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Apr 25, 2014 12:33 pm

The facts and figures behind proposed trans-Pacific trade deal

Chart of U.S. trade in 2013 with Pacific Rim countries

One of the biggest and most difficult items on President Obama’s Asia agenda has been trade — in particular, unsnarling negotiations for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade agreement. The TPP would remove trade barriers among 12 nations on both sides of the Pacific that together account for about 40% of the global economy. But as might be expected, the ambitious deal has run into resistance abroad (especially from the Japanese agricultural and auto industries) and has revived long-running debates in the U.S. about the benefits and risks of such trade deals. (Two of the four countries on Obama’s schedule, Japan and Malaysia, are participating in the talks; the other two, South Korea and the Philippines, have expressed interest in joining.) Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Globalization and Trade

Apr 25, 2014 11:43 am

Data Feed: Housing market shifts, Latin American economic outlook, who likes their state best

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Even in 2012, young voters still underrepresented at polls, Washington Post
53% of Va. voters oppose Medicaid expansion, Christopher Newport U.

Consumer sentiment up in April to nine-month high, University of Michigan/Reuters
Demand for home loans plunges, The Wall Street Journal
Price of new homes is surging, in part because houses are getting bigger, Washington Post
Optimism for rising U.S. home value is highest since 2007, Gallup
Why the housing market is still stalling the economy, The Upshot/NYT
Fewer Americans carrying a balance on their credit cards, Gallup
Debit, credit cards much more popular than checks for noncash payments, Atlanta Fed
New data on GDP and value-add by industry for 2013, Bureau of Economic Analysis
For women in tech, pay gap is unusually small, The Upshot/NYT

Read More

Apr 25, 2014 9:00 am

Chart of the Week: U.S. middle class no longer the world’s richest


Economic inequality is in the news in a way it hasn’t been for a long time. Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the 21st Century, which argues that the innate dynamics of capitalism cause income gaps to widen, has become a surprise best-seller (so much so that Amazon listed it as “temporarily out of stock”). President Obama has called for raising the federal minimum wage as one measure to help narrow inequality, but in the absence of Congressional action, many states and cities are raising their own (or at least putting the question on this fall’s ballots). And, as The New York Times reported this week, the American middle class is no longer the world’s most affluent.

This week’s chart of the week (our screenshot doesn’t capture the interactive version) shows how after-tax incomes at different levels grew between 1980 and 2010 in the U.S. and 10 other advanced economies. (The data come from the Luxembourg Income Study Database.) Besides showing how steep income growth was at the upper levels relative to the lowest ones, the graphic shows how much different tiers of Americans have fallen behind their peers in other countries.

For instance, Americans in the 20th income percentile earned less in 2010 than Norwegians, Canadians, Dutch, Germans, Swedes and Finns in those countries’ respective 20th percentiles. Three decades earlier, 20th-percentile Americans earned more than everyone except Canadians. American and Canadian median per capita incomes were about equal in 2010, at $18,700, according to the LIS data. But other, more recent income surveys, “suggest that since 2010 pay in Canada has risen faster than pay in the United States and is now most likely higher,” the Times wrote.

But the American rich still make considerably more than other countries’ rich. At the 95th percentile, U.S. per-capita income was nearly $60,000, more than $10,000 ahead of Canada’s top earners.

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: Income Inequality, World Economies

Apr 25, 2014 7:00 am

As digital ad sales grow, news outlets get a smaller share

digital advertising revenues 2011-2013Digital advertising in the U.S. accounted for $42.6 billion in revenue in 2013, an increase of 16% over 2012, according to the financial analysis firm eMarketer. But while that digital ad pie is growing, the numbers show that news organizations are competing for an increasingly smaller share of those dollars.

While Google’s recent announcement of a 26% increase in ad volume in the first quarter of 2014 disappointed Wall Street investors who thought the number might be higher, it highlights the problem for the journalism business. Big tech companies that largely aren’t in the business of creating news content continue to dominate the digital ad space, often because they are able to reach much larger audiences than news organizations can. Read More

Topics: Advertising, Digital Media

Apr 24, 2014 3:04 pm

Cameron’s ‘Christian country’: What the numbers say about religion in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom “should be more confident about [its] status as a Christian country,” Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in a recent opinion piece published before Easter.

FT_14.04.23_UKreligionHis statement has since drawn strong opposition, including a letter to a British newspaper from a group of more than 50 scientists, writers and others. Cameron’s comments “foster alienation and division,” the letter says, asserting that they are also not true. “Surveys, polls and studies show that most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.” Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Western Europe

Apr 24, 2014 1:11 pm

5 facts about the NRA and guns in America

The National Rifle Association, one of the most politically powerful advocacy groups in the U.S., begins its annual convention today in Indianapolis, featuring a lineup of Republican governors and senators as speakers and also a planned rally. NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre said the organization, with its focus on protecting rights of gun owners, had more than 5 million members last May, although such claims in the past by the group had been questioned by the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” blog.

Here are five facts related to the NRA and the issue of gun rights and gun control:

1The reasons Americans give for owning funsJust as the NRA’s focus has shifted over time from its start as an organization focused on training and marksmanship to one that is a major player in the battle over gun control, the reasons why Americans own guns also have changed. About half (48%) of gun owners said the main reason they owned a gun was for protection, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in February 2013. About three-in-ten (32%) said they owned a gun for hunting. That was a turnaround from 1999 when 49% said they owned a gun for hunting and 26% said they had a gun for protection in an ABC News/Washington Post poll.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Gun Control

Apr 24, 2014 12:14 pm

Papal saints: Once a given, now extremely rare

On Sunday, Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will become the 79th and 80th heads of the Roman Catholic Church to become saints, an event that has become a rarity in modern times.

Canonized popes in the Catholic church. How rare? Roughly 30% of all popes are saints. Starting with St. Peter, traditionally regarded as the first leader of the church after Christ’s death, 52 of the first 55 popes became saints during Catholicism’s first 500 years. In the last 1,000 years, just seven popes have been made saints, including the two being canonized on Sunday. It will be the first time in the 2,000-year history of the church that two popes will be declared saints at one time.

John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, and the hundreds of thousands packing St. Peter’s Square chanted “Santo, subito!” or “Sainthood, now!” in Italian on the day of his funeral. Pope Benedict XVI soon waived the five-year waiting period after a person’s death and officially began the canonization process for his predecessor. (John Paul himself had shortened the waiting period to five years from the traditional 50.)

Nine years later – a lightning flash in Vatican time – John Paul II will be made a saint. To put that in perspective, since 1588, when the Catholic Church created an office called the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the average time between the death of an eventual saint and canonization is 181 years. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Religious Leaders