The share of Americans who do not identify with a religious group is surely growing: While nationwide surveys in the 1970s and ’80s found that fewer than one-in-ten U.S. adults said they had no religious affiliation, fully 23% now describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.”
But there are differing ideas about the factors driving this trend – and its implications for society. While it appears the U.S. is becoming less religious, some contend that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, they say, the growth of the “nones” may simply indicate that people who are not religious are becoming more forthright and willing to say they have no religious affiliation, perhaps because being a “none” has become more socially acceptable.
Do survey data support this notion? The answer is yes – but only partly. Two, or even three, closely related things seem to be going on. Americans who are not religiously active and who don’t hold strong religious beliefs are more likely now than similar people were in the past to say they have no religion. But that’s not the whole story, because the share of Americans with low levels of religious commitment (on a scale combining four common measures) also has been growing.
Digital news continues to evolve, pushed by a variety of innovations in recent years, from groundbreaking new technologies like virtual reality and automated reporting to experiments on social platforms that have altered campaign coverage. As journalists and media practitioners gather for the annual Online News Association Conference, here are 10 key findings from recent Pew Research Center surveys and analyses that show how these rapid digital shifts are reshaping Americans’ news habits:
1 About four-in-ten Americans now often get news online. Digital is currently second only to TV news as the most prominent news platform. Nearly twice as many adults (38%) often get news online than get news in print (20%). Younger adults are especially likely to turn to the web for their news, while older Americans rely heavily on TV for their news. Print newspapers are still relatively popular among older Americans, but very few younger Americans say they read them often.
2 Mobile is becoming a preferred device for digital news. The portion of Americans who ever get news on a mobile device has gone up from 54% in 2013 to 72% today. Two-thirds (66%) of Americans get news on both desktop/laptop and mobile, but more of those prefer mobile (56%) than desktop (42%). Read More →
Category: 5 Facts
For millennia, humans have been dreaming about vaulting past our biological limits, from natural constraints on our intellect and physicality to our very mortality. But now, according to some researchers and futurists, we may be on the cusp of a scientific revolution that could give each of us an opportunity to cross these boundaries and live longer and stronger than any human being before us.
And yet, a pair of Pew Research Center surveys on life extension and human enhancement show that many U.S. adults are not ready to embrace these possibilities, whether it be in their own lives or in society more broadly.
In our 2013 survey on radical life extension, 56% of adults said they would not want to live at least 120 years, which is considered the current upper limit of the human life span. Likewise, roughly two-thirds of adults in our 2016 poll on human enhancement said they would not want a brain chip implant to improve their cognitive abilities (66%) or synthetic blood to augment their physical abilities (63%). American adults were somewhat more open to the possibility of using gene editing to reduce the risk of serious disease in babies, with 48% saying they would be interested, but a similar share (50%) said they would not want to use the technology on their baby.
Almost all of the world’s nations have laws specifying at what age a couple can marry, and in most of these countries, those under the age of 18 are allowed to wed. Indeed, at least 117 nations (including the United States) allow children to marry, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data on 198 countries and territories from the U.S. State Department and United Nations.
While in many countries the age of 18 legally marks the end of childhood, marriageable age does not always correspond – legally or otherwise – with the age of majority. Ostensibly, most countries (153 of 198) require that people who want to marry be adults (18 years or older). But many of these same nations have some kind of exemption to this requirement. For instance, in Australia, if a person is at least 18, their spouse can (with judicial approval) be as young as 16. And in many other countries, such as Iraq, Jamaica and Uruguay, children can marry with parental permission. Read More →
Voter satisfaction with the choice of presidential candidates, already at a two-decade low, has declined even further. A new survey finds that just a third of registered voters say they are very or fairly satisfied with the choices, while 63% say they are not too or not at all satisfied. That represents a 7-percentage-point drop since June in the share of voters expressing satisfaction with their candidate choices.
This marks the first time in six presidential contests since 1992 that positive views of the choice of candidates have shown a significant decline over the course of the campaign (no comparative data are available for the 2000 campaign).
The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Aug. 23-Sept. 2 among 1,201 adults, including 947 registered voters, finds that unhappiness with this year’s choices crosses partisan lines: Just 36% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters, and 35% of Democrats and Democratic leaners, say they are satisfied with their choices. Read More →
The U.S. Hispanic population reached 57 million in 2015, but a drop-off in immigration from Latin America and a declining birth rate among Hispanic women has curbed overall growth of the population and slowed the dispersion of Hispanics through the U.S.
From the onset of the Great Recession in 2007 through 2014, the U.S. Hispanic population had an annual average growth rate of 2.8%, compared with an average 4.4% growth each year from 2000 to 2007. As a result, in terms of growth rate, Hispanics – once the nation’s fastest-growing population – have now slipped behind Asians, whose population grew at an average annual rate of 3.4% between 2007 and 2014.
Here are key takeaways from our new report on the geography of the U.S. Hispanic population, which includes fact sheets and interactive county, metropolitan and state maps. (Data on Hispanic eligible voters are available in our state and congressional district interactives and fact sheets.)
1Despite slowing growth rates, Latinos still accounted for more than half (54%) of total U.S. population growth from 2000 to 2014. Hispanics drove at least half of overall population growth in 524 counties that had at least 1,000 Latinos in 2014. In these counties, Hispanic population growth accounted for 54% or more of total growth. The South accounted for 46% of these counties, compared with 24% in the West, 18% in the Midwest and 12% in the Northeast. Read More →
Category: 5 Facts
Many news organizations have recently ramped up their use of mobile news alerts – notifications that pop up on mobile phones, alerting people of breaking news or major headlines. They see this as an opportunity to both inform and reconnect with audiences over the course of the day. And, with about seven-in-ten Americans (72%) getting news on mobile devices, these organizations clearly see a potential audience for alerts.
More than half (55%) of U.S. smartphone users get news alerts on their phones’ screens, but getting them frequently is still fairly rare. Just 13% of smartphone users say they often receive news alerts, according to new Pew Research Center data. And only about half of those who ever get them click through to the full story or search for more information (47%, or 26% of smartphone users overall).
Those who follow the news all or most of the time are somewhat more likely to get smartphone news alerts, but the differences are not huge. Nearly six-in-ten smartphone users who follow the news closely (58%) ever get news alerts, compared with 52% of those who follow the news less often. There is a somewhat greater difference in the tendency of these two groups to seek out the details of a story upon receiving an alert: 53% of those who closely follow the news say they do so, compared with 42% of those who follow the news less closely.
In presidential elections, even the smallest changes in horse-race poll results seem to become imbued with deep meaning. But they are often overstated. Pollsters disclose a margin of error so that consumers can have an understanding of how much precision they can reasonably expect. But cool-headed reporting on polls is harder than it looks, because some of the better-known statistical rules of thumb that a smart consumer might think apply are more nuanced than they seem. In other words, as is so often true in life, it’s complicated.
Here are some tips on how to think about a poll’s margin of error and what it means for the different kinds of things we often try to learn from survey data.
1What is the margin of error anyway?
Because surveys only talk to a sample of the population, we know that the result probably won’t exactly match the “true” result that we would get if we interviewed everyone in the population. The margin of sampling error describes how close we can reasonably expect a survey result to fall relative to the true population value. A margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level means that if we fielded the same survey 100 times, we would expect the result to be within 3 percentage points of the true population value 95 of those times.
The margin of error that pollsters customarily report describes the amount of variability we can expect around an individual candidate’s level of support. For example, in the accompanying graphic, a hypothetical Poll A shows the Republican candidate with 48% support. A plus or minus 3 percentage point margin of error would mean that 48% Republican support is within the range of what we would expect if the true level of support in the full population lies somewhere 3 points in either direction – i.e., between 45% and 51%. Read More →
Category: 5 Facts
For many Americans, going online is an important way to connect with friends and family, shop, get news and search for information. Yet today, 13% of U.S. adults do not use the internet, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of survey data.
The size of this group has changed little over the past three years, despite recent government and social service programs to encourage internet adoption. But that 13% figure is substantially lower than in 2000, when Pew Research Center first began to study the social impact of technology. That year, nearly half (48%) of American adults did not use the internet. (The 2015 figure of 15% is not statistically different from the current figure.)
A 2013 survey from the Center found some key reasons that some people do not use the internet. A third of non-internet users (34%) did not go online because they had no interest in doing so or did not think the internet was relevant to their lives. Another 32% of non-internet users said the internet was too difficult to use, including 8% of this group who said they were “too old to learn.” Cost was also a barrier for some adults who were offline – 19% cited the expense of internet service or owning a computer.
The latest Pew Research Center analysis also shows that internet non-adoption is correlated to a number of demographic variables, including age, educational attainment, household income and community type.
With Election Day 2016 a little over two months away, many political analysts are projecting Democrats to gain seats in both the House and Senate. But winning the 30 seats they need to wrest control of the House from the Republicans is generally seen as a longer shot than the four or five Senate seats they’d need to lead that chamber (depending on whether or not Hillary Clinton is elected president and Tim Kaine, as vice president and president of the Senate, has a tie-breaking vote).
Shifts of that magnitude are uncommon but not unprecedented: In three of the past 12 two-year election cycles, one party has racked up a net gain of 30 seats or more (most recently in 2010, when the Republicans had a net gain of 63 seats). So we thought it was worthwhile to take a closer look at the circumstances under which House seats do, and don’t, switch from Republican to Democratic or vice versa. (In redistricting years, we excluded House districts that were either newly created and those so radically redrawn that no incumbent ran in them.)