Apr 15, 2014 11:00 am

Data Feed: Tax Day facts, Americans’ Putin dilemma, global morality

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

Category: Data Feed

Apr 15, 2014 10:05 am

What’s morally acceptable? It depends on where in the world you live

The Pew Research Center asked people in 40 countries about what is morally unacceptable, morally acceptable or not a moral issue. The issues included: married people having an affair, gambling, homosexuality, having an abortion, sex between unmarried adults, drinking alcohol, getting a divorce and using contraceptives. Our new Global Morality Interactive highlights the findings and allows users to sort the data in a variety of ways.

Visit the interactive →

Here are 5 key takeaways from the survey:

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Category: 5 Facts

Apr 15, 2014 7:00 am

On Tax Day, Americans’ views of taxes and the IRS

Yes, it’s that day again — the April 15 deadline for filing your taxes. Many of you are not sweating it because you’re among the almost 100 million Americans who had filed their returns as of April 4 or the estimated 12 million who have requested extensions, according to the IRS. (Last year, the IRS said 148 million returns had been filed.)

So whether you’re ahead of the game or not, here are five facts about Americans’ views of taxes and the IRS:

1  A third (34%) of Americans liked or loved doing their taxes, according toSome Americans like doing their income taxes as April 15 deadline nears the survey we conducted at this time last year. Of course, that left 56% who didn’t like the annual exercise including 26% who hated doing their taxes. Among those who liked doing taxes, the largest share said it was to get a refund followed by those who said they didn’t mind or prided themselves for being good at. The IRS says the average refund so far this year is $2,792. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Taxes

Apr 14, 2014 12:00 pm

SpaceX launch illustrates NASA’s growing use of private companies

The Falcon 9 rocket at SpaceX’s launch site at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (Credit: SpaceX)

Later this month, a company called SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Falcon 9 rocket on a routine supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). But if all goes as planned, this mission could herald the beginning of something decidedly not routine: the use of private, reusable rockets to service America’s space program.

SpaceX and another private launch company, Orbital Sciences, are the beneficiaries of a recent shift in the American space program toward privatizing more routine missions – such as the transport of supplies and eventually people to and from the ISS. While this upcoming mission is only a preliminary test, SpaceX eventually hopes to dramatically reduce the cost of launching cargo and people into space by eventually making both the first and second stages of its rockets reusable. Last year, the company estimated that once its rockets are able to land back on earth and, after re-fueling, quickly be re-launched, the cost for a trip to the ISS could drop to as low as from $5 million to $7 million. Read More

Topics: Science and Innovation

Apr 14, 2014 11:15 am

Data Feed: Google’s campaign donations, tax day facts, world military spending

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

Category: Data Feed

Apr 14, 2014 11:00 am

U.S. workforce more concentrated in large — and largely low-paid — occupations

Chart showing largest U.S. occupations, and average salaries, for 2013 and 1999

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that the 10 largest occupations (as of May 2013), accounting for more than a fifth of all U.S. wage and salary jobs, are predominantly low-paid ones — cashiers, sales clerks, fast-food workers and the like. That’s broadly been the pattern in U.S. employment for many years. But overall employment has become more concentrated in those largest occupational categories over the past decade or so, and well-paying jobs account for a smaller share of them. Read More

Topics: Work and Employment

Apr 14, 2014 9:00 am

Attending a Seder is common practice for American Jews


Percentage of U.S. Jews who say they participated in a Seder last year.

Jewish participation in SederThe Jewish festival of Passover begins at sundown tonight, when many Jews will gather with family and friends for the first of two Seders. While the exact nature of a Seder varies, Jews traditionally read from a book known as the Haggadah – or “telling” in Hebrew – and retell the story of the exodus from slavery in Egypt before eating a festive meal.

Among several common traditions are a Seder plate with symbolic foods, a reading of the “four questions” to explain the uniqueness of Passover and a search by children for a hidden afikoman (a broken piece of matzah, the unleavened bread that is eaten during the holiday).

A 2013 Pew Research survey of Jewish Americans found that attending a Seder is an extremely common practice for the group. While only 23% of U.S. Jews said they attend religious services at least monthly, 70% said they participated in a Seder last year. That includes 42% of Jews of no religion (those who consider themselves Jewish in some way, were raised Jewish or had a Jewish parent, but say they are atheist or agnostic or have no particular religion.)

Participation in a Seder is more common among Jewish Americans than any of the other practices we asked about, including fasting for all or part of Yom Kippur (53%) – often considered the holiest day of the Jewish calendar – and always or usually lighting Sabbath candles (23%).

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Religious Beliefs and Practices

Apr 14, 2014 7:00 am

More online Americans say they’ve experienced a personal data breach

FT_online-privacy-breaches3As news of large-scale data breaches and vulnerabilities grows, new findings from the Pew Research Center suggest that growing numbers of online Americans have had important personal information stolen and many have had an account compromised.

Findings from a January 2014 survey show that:

  • 18% of online adults have had important personal information stolen such as their Social Security Number, credit card, or bank account information. That’s an increase from the 11% who reported personal information theft in July 2013.
  • 21% of online adults said they had an email or social networking account compromised or taken over without their permission.The same number reported this experience in a July 2013 survey.

Last week’s discovery of the Heartbleed security flaw is the latest in a long string of bad news about the vulnerabilities of digital data. The bug, which affects a widely-used encryption technology that is intended to protect online transactions and accounts, went undetected for more than two years. Security researchers are unsure whether or not hackers have been exploiting the problem, but the scope of the problem is estimated to affect up to 66% of active sites on the Internet.

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Topics: Internet Activities, Privacy and Safety

Apr 11, 2014 12:38 pm

Chart of the Week: Making sense of the Medicare data dump

Wall Street Journal chart on Medicare spending

This weeks’ massive release of 2012 Medicare billing and payment data stimulated a rush of creativity among data visualizers. But the sheer size of the data dump — covering $77 billion paid in 2012 to 880,000 doctors and other health care providers — posed challenges in deciding what to chart and how to display it, from high-level overviews to detailed interactive maps to graphics focusing on the biggest recipients of Medicare reimbursements.

Among the trove of charts, we chose this one, from The Wall Street Journal, for conveying a great deal of nuance in a reasonably simple, straightforward graphic. It not only makes the point that Medicare reimbursements are gross, not net, income, but that specialties differ considerably on overhead costs. Oncologists, for example, use expensive chemotherapy drugs, while many ophthalmologists administer pricey drugs such as Lucentis (for macular degeneration) in their offices.

Overall, according to The Washington Post’s analysis, 43% of the roughly $64 billion paid by Medicare to doctors in 2012 went to office overhead, while 13% went to drugs and other costs and 3% paid for malpractice insurance. That still left 41%, or $26.2 billion, as compensation for the doctors.

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: Health Care

Apr 11, 2014 11:19 am

Data Feed: Congress’ shrinking middle ground, internet ad revenue, U.S. global leadership

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

Category: Data Feed