May 4, 2017 3:04 pm

Though still conservative, young evangelicals are more liberal than their elders on some issues

Millennials are more likely than older adults to take liberal positions on social and political issues. This generation gap exists even among evangelical Protestants – who constitute one of the country’s most conservative religious groups – in areas including same-sex marriage, immigration and environmentalism.

The gap between younger and older evangelicals is perhaps most noticeable on LGBT issues. Evangelical Protestants who are Millennials (those born from 1981 to 1996) are considerably more likely than older evangelical Protestants to support same-sex marriage and to say homosexuality should be accepted by society, according to Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study.

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Topics: Religion and Society, Generations and Age, Religious Affiliation, Social Values, Political Issue Priorities

May 4, 2017 1:01 pm

Q&A: Political polls and the 2016 election

Voters cast their ballots at a fire station in Alhambra, California, on Nov. 8, 2016. (Ringo Chiu/AFP/Getty Images)
Voters cast their ballots at a fire station in Alhambra, California, on Nov. 8, 2016. (Ringo Chiu/AFP/Getty Images)

The outcome of the 2016 presidential election surprised a lot of people – not least the many political pollsters and analysts covering it. Today the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the nation’s leading organization of survey researchers, released a long-awaited report that examines polling during last year’s long primary and general election campaigns.

Courtney Kennedy, Pew Research Center director of survey research
Courtney Kennedy, Pew Research Center director of survey research

Courtney Kennedy, Pew Research Center’s director of survey research, chaired the AAPOR task force that produced the report. We sat down with Kennedy recently to discuss its findings and recommendations. The conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity and conciseness.

Ever since Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton last year, there’s been plenty of criticism of the performance and trustworthiness of polls. Was that the impetus for this report?

Actually, this committee was organized back in May 2016, months before any of us had the slightest inkling that last year would be a particularly unusual year for polling. The original intent was pretty straightforward: to evaluate the performance of polls, both in the primary season and the general election; to compare how they did relative to past years; and, to the extent the data would support it, assess whether certain types of polls – online versus telephone, live versus automated – did better or worse than others.

But as of midnight or so on Nov. 8it was clear that what the committee needed to do had changed. We couldn’t just do this very technical, “what was the average deviation” type of report. We needed to, in addition, consider another question: “Why did the polls seem to systematically underestimate support for Donald Trump?” There already were a number of hypotheses floating around – such as the so-called “shy Trump” effect (Trump supporters being less willing than others to disclose their support to an interviewer),  differential nonresponse (Trump supporters being less likely than others to participate in surveys), things of that nature – and we felt obligated to take on that additional piece.

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Topics: Research Methods, Voter Preferences, Elections and Campaigns, Polling, 2016 Election, Donald Trump

May 4, 2017 11:37 am

Asylum applications from unaccompanied minors fell sharply in Europe in 2016

The European Union, Norway and Switzerland received nearly 66,000 asylum applications from unaccompanied minor migrants in 2016, a decline of nearly 40% from 2015’s record total but still well above the total of prior years, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency.

From 2008 to 2016, the EU, Norway and Switzerland received some 274,000 total asylum applications from unaccompanied minors, or those younger than 18 applying without a parent or guardian. (Data are not available before 2008.) The annual number of unaccompanied minor applications remained relatively flat from 2008 to 2013 before nearly doubling to 25,000 in 2014. During the refugee surge in 2015, European countries received more than 104,000 applications from unaccompanied minors seeking asylum. Counting all age groups, the EU, Norway and Switzerland received more than 4.8 million first-time asylum applications from 2008 to 2016, with unaccompanied minors representing almost 6% of the total.
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Topics: Europe, International Threats and Allies, Immigration Trends, Migration, Middle Class

May 3, 2017 11:30 am

Key findings about U.S. immigrants

Immigrants listen to a speech as they wait to become U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony in Los Angeles. (Mark Ralson/AFP/Getty Images)
Immigrants listen to a speech as they wait to become U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony in Los Angeles. (Mark Ralson/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants in 2015. The population of immigrants is also very diverse, with just about every country in the world represented among U.S. immigrants.

View interactive charts and detailed tables on U.S. immigrants.

Pew Research Center regularly publishes statistical portraits of the nation’s foreign-born population, which include historical trends since 1960. Based on these portraits, here are answers to some key questions about the U.S. immigrant population.

How many people in the U.S. are immigrants?

The U.S. foreign-born population reached a record 43.2 million in 2015. Since 1965, when U.S. immigration laws replaced a national quota system, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. has more than quadrupled. Immigrants today account for 13.4% of the U.S. population, nearly triple the share (4.7%) in 1970. However, today’s immigrant share remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S.

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Topics: Education, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Population Trends, Population Geography, Business and Labor, Migration, Asian Americans

May 2, 2017 10:01 am

Why people are rich and poor: Republicans and Democrats have very different views

Beyond partisan differences over economic policies, there are stark divisions on a fundamental question: What makes someone rich or poor? Most Republicans link a person’s financial standing to their own hard work – or the lack of it. Most Democrats say that whether someone is rich or poor is more attributable to circumstances beyond their control.

The public overall is about evenly divided over which has more to do with why a person is rich: 45% say it is because he or she worked harder than most people, while 43% say it is because they had more advantages in life than others, according to a survey conducted April 5-11 among 1,501 U.S. adults. Opinion has shifted modestly on this question: In both 2015 and 2014, more attributed a person’s wealth to greater advantages than to a stronger work ethic.

In assessing why some people are poor, 53% think it is because of circumstances beyond their control, while 34% attribute it to a lack of effort. There has been little change in these opinions in recent years, according to a survey in December.

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Topics: Education, Gender, Individualism and Individual Opportunity, Work and Employment, Income, U.S. Political Parties, Political Attitudes and Values, Lifestyle, Socioeconomic Class, Income Inequality, Political Polarization

May 1, 2017 7:03 am

Democrats far more supportive than Republicans of federal spending for scientific research

There is a wide and growing partisan gap in the U.S. over how much government should spend for scientific research.

Six-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents back increased federal spending for scientific research, up from 46% four years ago. But just a third of Republicans and Republican leaners support increased spending for scientific research today, up modestly from 25% in 2013.

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Topics: U.S. Political Parties, Political Attitudes and Values, Government Spending and the Deficit, Science and Innovation, Political Polarization

Apr 28, 2017 11:30 am

Sub-Saharan Africa experienced largest increase in religious restrictions in 2015

While sub-Saharan Africa had fewer religious restrictions in 2015 than many other parts of the world, it experienced a larger increase that year than any other region, according to a recent Pew Research Center report that tracks these restrictions by both governments and private individuals and groups. Attacks by the Nigeria-based extremist group Boko Haram, along with subsequent government reactions to those incidents, played a role in this increase.

Government harassment of religious groups was reported in a total of 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (77%) in 2015, increasing from 25 countries (52%) the year before, and was at the highest level recorded for the region since 2007 – the first year for which data are available. Some of the government harassment included bans on religious attire tied to an increase in terrorist activity. For instance, in West Africa, the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Republic of the Congo banned wearing various forms of Islamic veils in public after Boko Haram suicide bombers used such veils to hide explosives.  Read More

Topics: Religion and Society, Religion and Government, Sub-Saharan Africa, Religious Affiliation, Restrictions on Religion

Apr 27, 2017 4:02 pm

Key facts about the U.S. H-1B visa program

President Donald Trump has ordered a comprehensive review of the H-1B visa program, the primary way that companies in the United States hire high-skilled foreign workers. The multiagency review is expected to result in suggested changes to ensure that the most skilled and highest-paid applicants receive H-1B visas. Though the order may be the first step in an overhaul of the program, only a handful of changes have been made for now to the way H-1B visas are awarded.

Almost 1.8 million H-1B visas have been distributed in fiscal years 2001 through 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The program, created by the Immigration Act of 1990, allows employers to hire foreigners to work on a temporary basis in jobs that require highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Visas are awarded to employers on a first-come, first-served basis, with applications accepted each year beginning in April. If the number of applications exceeds an annual cap set by Congress during the first five business days of April, visas are awarded through a lottery system.

Here are some key facts about the current H-1B visa program.

1Since 2005, H-1B visas have been capped at 65,000 a year, plus an additional 20,000 visas for foreigners with a graduate degree from a U.S. academic institution. Congress sets the annual cap, which has varied from a low of 65,000 (first set in fiscal 1990) to a high of 195,000 in 2002 and 2003. Currently, employers submit applications and pay between $1,710 and $6,460 in fees for each visa, depending on the employer’s size – a portion of which funds the National Science Foundation and the retraining of American workers through the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

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Topics: Education, Immigration, Work and Employment, Immigration Trends, Migration, Asian Americans

Apr 27, 2017 2:09 pm

5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S.

For the first time, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. was lower in 2015 than it was at the end of the Great Recession in 2009. The origin countries of unauthorized immigrants also shifted during that time, with the number from Mexico declining and the number from other regions rising, according to the latest Pew Research Center estimates.

Here are five facts about the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S.

1There were 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2015, a small but statistically significant decline from the Center’s estimate of 11.3 million for 2009.

The Center’s preliminary estimate of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2016 is 11.3 million, which is statistically no different from the 2009 or 2015 estimates because it is based on a data source with a smaller sample size and larger margin of error. Unauthorized immigrants represented 3.4% of the total U.S. population in 2015. The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.  Read More

Topics: Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration, Immigration Trends, Migration, Hispanic/Latino Demographics

Apr 27, 2017 12:05 pm

10 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2017

(John Stillwell/PA Images via Getty Images)
(John Stillwell/PA Images via Getty Images)

As demographers convene in Chicago for the Population Association of America’s annual meeting, here is a look at 10 of Pew Research Center’s recent findings on demographic trends, ranging from global refugee and migrant flows to changes to family life and living arrangements. They show how demographic forces are driving population change and reshaping the lives of people around the world.

1Millennials are the United States’ largest living generation. In 2016, there were an estimated 79.8 million Millennials (ages 18 to 35 in that year) compared with 74.1 million Baby Boomers (ages 52 to 70). The Millennial population is expected to continue growing until 2036 as a result of immigration.

By some measures, Millennials have very different lives than earlier generations did when they were young. They’re slow to adopt many of the traditional markers of adulthood. For the first time in more than 130 years, young adults are more likely to be living in their parents’ home than in any other living arrangement. In fact, a larger share of them are living with their parents than with a romantic partner – marking a significant historical shift. More broadly, young adult geographic mobility is at its lowest level in 50 years, even though today’s young adults are less likely than previous generations of young adults to be married, to own a home or to be parents, all of which are traditional obstacles to moving.

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Topics: Immigration, Religion and Society, Western Europe, Demographics, Work and Employment, Income, Immigration Trends, Generations and Age, Population Trends, Birth Rate and Fertility, Migration, Population Projections