Apr 17, 2015 1:48 pm

5 facts about the BP oil spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and sending oil gushing into the water. By the time the well was sealed months later, about 5 million barrels of oil had spilled into the Gulf. Here are five key facts about the oil spill and its aftermath:

Favor or Oppose the Government Allowing More Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling in U.S. Waters?1Support for offshore drilling plummeted after the 2010 spill, but has largely recovered since. Between February and May of 2010, the share of Americans who favored more offshore oil and gas drilling fell from 63% to 54%. By June, support dropped another 10 percentage points and more people opposed increased drilling (52%) than favored it (44%). But support rose subsequent years, though not to the same heights. Last December, 56% said they favored the government allowing more offshore drilling and 40% opposed the practice. In that survey, about three-quarters of Republicans (77%) favored more drilling, as did 55% of independents. Only 41% of Democrats favored more drilling, including just one-in-three liberal Democrats (33%). Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Energy and Environment, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, News Interest

Apr 17, 2015 9:00 am

Running for president, and announcing it with a tweet

In today’s digital era, what’s the best way to announce that you’re running for president: a tweet, a speech or a media appearance?

Historically, speeches have been by far the most popular way to announce a candidacy. But so far in the 2016 race, two candidates (Hillary Clinton on Sunday and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in March) went online to make their big announcements, while two others (GOP Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida on Monday and Rand Paul of Kentucky on April 7) took the traditional approach with a speech.

Clinton made her announcement with an online video posted on her campaign website (as she did for the 2008 election), while Cruz declared in a midnight tweet: “I’m running for president and I hope to earn your support!” Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Campaign Outreach and Strategy, Internet Activities, Social Media, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties

Apr 17, 2015 7:00 am

Despite lower crime rates, support for gun rights increases

For most of the 1990s and the subsequent decade, a substantial majority of Americans believed it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun owners’ rights. But in December 2014, the balance of opinion flipped: For the first time, more Americans say that protecting gun rights is more important than controlling gun ownership, 52% to 46%.

A shift in favor of gun rightsWhy has public opinion shifted about gun control? As my colleagues at Pew Research Center have documented elsewhere, some of this is related to politics, as Republicans have become far more supportive of gun rights during the Obama years. The rise in support for gun rights has also spanned many other regional and demographic groups.

But there may be another factor behind this shift: Americans’ changing perceptions about crime. Over the past 25 years or so, there has been a divergence between American perceptions about crime and actual crime rates. And those who worried about crime had favored stricter gun control; now, they tend to desire keeping the laws as they are or loosening gun control. In short, we are at a moment when most Americans believe crime rates are rising and when most believe gun ownership – not gun control – makes people safer. Read More

Topics: Gun Control, Violence and Society

Apr 16, 2015 11:04 am

Car, bike or motorcycle? Depends on where you live

Last year, we asked people in 44 countries whether they owned certain household items such as microwaves, televisions or radios. We did this in part to explore whether owning more household goods has an effect on life satisfaction – and, indeed, owning more key items increases happiness by a substantial amount.

We also asked whether people have a car, bicycle or motorcycle in their home, and we found major variations of ownership by region around the world. One caveat: We didn’t ask about whether people used these items, just whether they had one in working order. People might primarily use other forms of transportation, such as public transit or walking, in their daily lives. Nevertheless, we found notable differences between economically advanced nations, emerging markets and developing countries:

Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Socioeconomic Class, World Economies

Apr 15, 2015 12:01 pm

Europe projected to retain its Christian majority, but religious minorities will grow

In the coming decades, Europe is expected to have fewer Christians and more Muslims and other religious minorities, according to Pew Research Center projections. But while these changes will be significant, they will not radically alter the continent’s religious composition.

Largely due to low fertility rates across the continent, Europe is the only region of the world where the overall population is projected to decline in total number (by almost 50 million) between 2010 and 2050. The number of Christians in Europe is forecast to drop by about 100 million, from about 553 million to 454 million, and an increasingly small share of the world’s Christians will live in Europe.

Still, in 2050, almost two-thirds of all Europeans (65%) are expected to identify as Christian (this does not imply that most will be regular churchgoers). By contrast, roughly three-quarters of Europeans identified as Christian in 2010. Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Europe, Muslims and Islam, Population Projections, Religious Affiliation

Apr 15, 2015 7:00 am

For the U.S. and Japan, legacy of WWII is still painful

When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Washington this month, he will become the first Japanese leader to speak before a joint session of Congress, seven decades after the end of World War II, in which the two countries were enemies.

U.S., Japan, WWIINearly a third of Americans cite World War II as the event that stands out when they think about relations between the United States and Japan, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. By contrast, only 17% of Japanese say WWII is the most significant occurrence in modern bilateral ties.

Nonetheless, the devastating event of the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 has long divided Americans and Japanese. Today, 56% of Americans believe the use of nuclear weapons was justified; 34% say it was not. In Japan, only 14% say the bombing was justified versus 79% who say it was not. Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Wars and International Conflicts

Apr 14, 2015 1:00 pm

Why some Americans have not changed their privacy and security behaviors

A string of revelations over the past two years about the National Security Agency’s domestic and international surveillance efforts have brought new awareness to many Americans about online privacy and security concerns. Yet most American adults have not made significant changes to their digital behavior, and 54% say that it would be “somewhat” or “very” difficult to find the tools and strategies that would enhance their privacy online and when using cellphones, according to a Pew Research Center report.

Majority Think Enhancing Their Privacy Protections Would Be Difficult

Why haven’t most Americans taken a more aggressive approach to protecting their digital data? When we asked respondents to tell us in their own words, several possible – and sometimes overlapping – reasons emerged: Read More

Topics: Federal Government, Internet Activities, Online Privacy and Safety, Surveillance

Apr 14, 2015 12:00 pm

6 facts about marijuana

Attitudes about marijuana have undergone a rapid shift in public opinion, paralleled by few other trends in the U.S. Our recent data, along with historical figures from Gallup and the General Social Survey, reveal how views have shifted about the drug over time. Our most recent survey, conducted in March 2015, finds that many more Americans now favor shifting the focus of the nation’s overall drug policy. Here are six key facts about public opinion and marijuana:

FT_15.04.14_marijuanaLegalization1Support for marijuana legalization is rapidly outpacing oppositionA slim majority (53%) of Americans say the drug should be made legal, compared with 44% who want it to be illegal. Opinions have changed drastically since 1969, when Gallup first asked the question and found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use. Much of the change in opinion has occurred over the past few years — support rose 11 points between 2010 and 2013 (although it has remained relatively unchanged since then).  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Drugs

Apr 14, 2015 10:35 am

On Equal Pay Day, key facts about the gender pay gap

Today marks “Equal Pay Day,” the date that symbolizes how far into the new year the average American woman would have to work to earn what the average American man did in the previous year.

Both men and women see inequalities in the workplace – 77% of women and 63% of men said “this country needs to continue making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace,” according to a Pew Research Center survey last fall.

According to the White House, full-time working women earn 77% of what their male counterparts earn. This means that women have to work approximately 60 extra days, or about three months, to earn what men did by the end of the previous year. However, our own estimate, which is based on hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers, finds women earn 84 percent of what men earn. Based on our estimate, it would take approximately 40 days, or until the end of February, for women to earn what men had by the end of last year. Read More

Topics: Gender, Work and Employment

Apr 14, 2015 10:05 am

Muslims expected to surpass Jews as second-largest U.S. religious group

Two trends that are already well underway – the decline of Christians and the growth of religiously unaffiliated people as a share of the U.S. population – are expected to continue in the decades ahead, according to the Pew Research Center’s projections of major religious groups around the world.

But, if current demographic trends hold, there also will be other significant changes in the U.S. religious landscape: Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion in the country and, by 2050, Muslims are projected to be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.

Due in part to their continued migration into the country, Muslims are forecast to make up 2.1% of the U.S. population in 2050, up from 0.9% in 2010. Two other major factors are driving Muslim growth: They currently have the highest fertility rate and the youngest median age of any major religious group in the U.S. Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Jews and Judaism, Muslims and Islam, North America, Population Projections, Religious Affiliation