May 7, 2014 2:49 pm

Opting out? About 10% of highly educated moms are staying at home

Credit: Igor Demchenkov / Getty Images
Credit: Igor Demchenkov / Getty Images

About one-in-ten mothers with a Master’s degree or more are staying at home in order to care for their family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data. Among mothers with professional degrees, such as medical degrees, law degrees or nursing degrees, 11% are relatively affluent and are out of the workforce in order to care for their families. This is true for 9% of Master’s degree holders and 6% of mothers with a Ph.D.

These so-called “opt-out moms” (roughly 10% of all highly educated mothers) make up just 1% of the nation’s 35 million mothers ages 18 to 69 who are living with their children younger than 18. For our purposes, “opt-out moms” are mothers who have at least a Master’s degree, an annual family income of $75,000 or more; a working husband; and who state that they are out of the workforce in order to care for their family.

Lisa Belkin first coined the term “opting out” in 2003, to describe highly educated, high-achieving women who seemingly chose to “opt out, ratchet back, and redefine work” after becoming mothers.  Ever since then, the phenomenon of “opt-out” mothers has been a subject of much media fascination—the idea that such ambitious, professionally-successful women would put their careers aside, for the opportunity to focus exclusively on  their families seemed to really strike a chord. Read More

Topics: Parenthood, Work and Employment

May 7, 2014 12:02 pm

Fewer Hispanics are Catholic, so how can more Catholics be Hispanic?

For more than 25 years, the Catholic Church in the United States has made a special effort to reach the Hispanic community, with programs and resources that flow from archbishops’ offices to local parishes.

In many ways, that effort has paid off. In 1970, Archbishop Patrick Flores became the first U.S. Hispanic bishop. Today, there are 26 active Hispanic bishops (roughly 10% of all active bishops) and about 450 Hispanic seminarians at the graduate level of training for the priesthood (about 14% of all seminarians at that level), according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. But the degree to which the church has succeeded in keeping Latinos in the pews is less clear.

On the one hand, the percentage of Latinos in the U.S. who are Catholic is declining, according to a major new Pew Research Center report. A majority (55%) of the nation’s estimated 35.4 million Latino adults – or about 19.6 million Latinos – identify as Catholic, but that’s down from two-thirds (67%) as recently as 2010. Today, nearly one-in-four Latino adults (24%) are now former Catholics. (We also asked about the reasons Latinos are leaving Catholicism.) Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Identity, Religious Affiliation

May 6, 2014 4:35 pm

Mother’s Day beats Valentine’s Day in Google ‘flowers’ search

google searches for flowers

When the U.S. House of Representatives issued its first Mother’s Day resolution in 1913, it called on all federal government officials to wear a “white carnation or some other white flower” to honor the nation’s moms. But even before the Congressional proclamation of an official day, mothers have been celebrated with flowers.

Today, more Americans search for “flowers” around Mother’s Day than Valentine’s Day, according to Google Trends data for the last 10 years. While the volume of searches for “flowers” in the United States are stable through most of the year, searches peak on the Friday before Mother’s Day and on Valentine’s Day. Google’s Trends tool measures the popularity of a search term relative to all searches in the United States. Data are reported on a scale from 0 to 100.

Topics: Internet Activities

May 6, 2014 12:26 pm

Americans still sour on the economy despite falling unemployment

Hires as a percentage of total employmentThe falling unemployment rate (6.3% in April) hasn’t done much to dent Americans’ pessimism about the economy. In a Pew Research Center survey released Monday, 65% of people say jobs in their community are difficult to find — down from the record levels seen in early 2010, but far above pre-Great Recession levels. Only 27% say jobs are plentiful.

The disconnect between public attitudes and the official joblessness data supports the idea that the unemployment rate — one of the most widely reported economic statistics, along with inflation and GDP  — isn’t fully capturing what’s happening in the U.S. economy. Part of the reason is simple arithmetic: Much of the decline in the unemployment rate comes not from more people finding work but from fewer people actively looking for it, and thus not counted as being in the labor force. (The labor-force participation rate last month, 62.8%, was as low as it’s been since early 1978.) Read More

Topics: National Economy, Work and Employment

May 6, 2014 11:13 am

Proposed law would clarify who gets access to a deceased person’s digital accounts

When Facebook turned 10 recently, many users were amused by the “Look Back” videos that compiled the highlights of their life on the social media network. But one father, John Berlin, couldn’t watch the video he most wanted to see – that of his deceased son, Jesse. Facebook hadn’t enabled the videos for “memorialized” accounts, profiles with modified settings when a user dies. So Berlin posted a video on YouTube pleading with Facebook to make him Jesse’s video.

In response, Facebook now takes requests for “Look Back” videos of users who have passed away. The company also modified the administration of memorial accounts to honor the original visibility settings of the deceased’s profile. Both of these changes are yet another example of how technology companies are writing the rules as they go in the largely unfamiliar territory of managing one’s digital life after death.  Read More

Topics: Blogs, Death and Dying, Future of the Internet, Social Media

May 6, 2014 8:51 am

Democrats find themselves divided on Keystone pipeline

On Capitol Hill, some Democratic senators may join with Republicans as early as this week to mandate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry Canadian oil from Alberta to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Public backing for building the pipeline is high, with 61% of Americans favoring it in a Pew Research Center poll conducted Feb. 27-March 16. That level of support was about the same as in the previous year.

The issue has put Obama on the spot in the debate between environmentalists warning of the damage it could cause and supporters of the pipeline, who say the pipeline will create thousands of jobs and could provide secure energy resources to the United States. Last month, the Obama administration delayed its decision on whether to approve the project, raising the possibility that a decision on the politically contentious issue could be put off until after the 2014 midterms. Whether the issue is taken up in Congress and how it fares could have an impact on some of the Democratic senators facing tough re-election races.

While Republicans and independents strongly support the pipeline (84% and 61%, respectively), Democrats find themselves divided on whether it should be built.

About half (49%) of Democrats support Keystone compared to 38% who oppose it. Democratic liberals are against its construction by a 46% to 40% margin, while conservative and moderate Democrats back it by 56% to 32%. In addition, highly educated Democrats – as well as those with higher family incomes – are more likely to oppose construction of the pipeline than those with less education and lower incomes. 

Read More

Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Energy and Environment

May 5, 2014 3:02 pm

Supreme Court affirms town council’s right to prayer

The Supreme Court brought some clarity to the role of prayer in civic life today by reaffirming that prayer before legislative bodies is not only constitutional, but that it can contain Christian and other faith-specific language. At the same time, today’s 5-4 ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway largely upheld existing case law rather than significantly breaking new ground.

The high court said that it does not violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause to begin a legislative body’s meeting or session with a prayer, even one that uses explicit Christian or other religious language. The allowance of prayer that includes language specific to a particular religious tradition builds on a 1983 Supreme Court ruling, Marsh v. Chambers, which first found legislative prayer to be constitutional.  Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Religion and Government, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

May 5, 2014 2:48 pm

More women than men earn the federal minimum wage

Substantially more women than men are in jobs that pay the minimum wage or less, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. Men make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force than women (53%-47%). But among those who earn the minimum wage or less, 62% are women and 38% are men.

More women than men have jobs paying them minimum wage or lessCongress is debating a hike to the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour), an idea that has strong support among the American public. Last week, a bill backed by the White House that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 failed to advance in the Senate. (Meanwhile, 21 states and some cities have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum.)

In 2012, women’s hourly wages were 84% those of men – meaning that women earned about 84 cents for every $1 made by men, a gender pay gap of 16 cents, according to a Pew Research Center report.

Among those paid by the hour, some 5.4% of women (2.1 million workers) made the federal minimum wage or less in 2013. For men, that share is 3.3%, or 1.2 million workers. (Some people may be paid below the federal minimum wage, including those who make tips.) The difference has narrowed since 1979, when the share of hourly workers who earned federal minimum wage or less was 20.2% for women and 7.7% for men.  Read More

Topics: Economic and Business News, Economic Policy, Gender

May 5, 2014 12:37 pm

Millions of Americans changed their racial or ethnic identity from one census to the next

2010censusraceMillions of Americans counted in the 2000 census changed their race or Hispanic-origin categories when they filled out their 2010 census forms, according to new research presented at the annual Population Association of America meeting last week. Hispanics, Americans of mixed race, American Indians and Pacific Islanders were among those most likely to check different boxes from one census to the next.

The researchers, who included university and government population scientists, analyzed census forms for 168 million Americans, and found that more than 10 million of them checked different race or Hispanic-origin boxes in the 2010 census than they had in the 2000 count. Smaller-scale studies have shown that people sometimes change the way they describe their race or Hispanic identity, but the new research is the first to use data from the census of all Americans to look at how these selections may vary on a wide scale. Read More

Topics: Race and Ethnicity, U.S. Census

May 2, 2014 12:46 pm

Chart of the Week: How America’s poor can still be rich in stuff

chart of 30-year price changes for various goods and services

In 21st-century America, it’s entirely possible for poor people to have much of the same material comforts — cars, TVs, computers, smartphones — as more affluent people, yet be trapped in low-paying jobs with little prospect of improvement.

That’s the takeaway from this eye-opening chart, produced by The New York Times. As it and the accompanying story make clear, prices for a wide range of manufactured goods have plummeted in recent years, making yesterday’s luxuries widely affordable despite stagnating wages for most workers. (Though the chart only covers 2005-2014, the larger trend extends back to at least the 1980s.) As the Times put it, “the differences in what poor and middle-class families consume on a day-to-day basis are much smaller than the differences in what they earn.”

The differences, though, show up in services — particularly the sort of services (education, health care, child care) that enable people to find and keep better-paying jobs and, over time, move themselves and their families up the socioeconomic ladder.

“Without a doubt, the poor are far better off than they were at the dawn of the War on Poverty,” James Ziliak, director of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Poverty Research, said in the Times story. But relative to middle- and upper-income Americans, he added, “they have also drifted further away.”

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: Income Inequality, Poverty, Socioeconomic Class