Apr 15, 2016 9:55 am

Many Americans don’t argue about religion – or even talk about it

Half of U.S. adults seldom or never discuss religion with non-familyAccording to Miss Manners, polite people do not bring up religion in social conversations. Of course, if Americans stayed away from all the topics the etiquette columnist deems taboo in polite company – including politics, money, sex, illness and what people are wearing – a lot of dinners would pass by in silence.

But, judging by the results of our recently released survey on religion in everyday life, religion does indeed seem to be a subject many people avoid. About half of U.S. adults tell us they seldom (33%) or never (16%) talk about religion with people outside their family. And roughly four-in-ten say they seldom (26%) or never (13%) discuss religion even with members of their immediate family. Read More

Topics: Generations and Age, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Apr 15, 2016 7:00 am

Americans’ views of immigrants marked by widening partisan, generational divides

Wide partisan gap in views of immigrants' impact on U.S.Republicans and Democrats continue to disagree deeply over immigration policies, including how to deal with undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. and whether to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Underlying these differences is a substantial – and growing – partisan divide over whether immigrants generally are a strength or burden on the country.

For more than 20 years, Pew Research Center has been asking whether immigrants in the U.S. “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents,” or whether they “are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care.”

In that time period, opinions about immigrants have shifted dramatically. In our latest national political survey, released in March, 59% of the public say immigrants strengthen the country, while 33% describe them as a burden. In 1994, opinions were nearly the reverse: 63% said immigrants were a burden and 31% said they strengthened the country.

Between 1994 and 2005, Republicans’ and Democrats’ views of immigrants tracked one another closely. Beginning around 2006, however, they began to diverge. In October that year, the partisan gap between Republicans and Democrats grew to 15 percentage points. Since then, the share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents saying that immigrants strengthen the country steadily increased, from 49% then to 78% now, while the share with this view among Republicans and Republican leaners has shown little change (34% then, 35% today). Read More

Topics: Generations and Age, Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Political Attitudes and Values, Unauthorized Immigration

Apr 14, 2016 12:00 pm

Candidates who don’t win on first convention ballot usually go on to lose

The floor of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago is jammed with cheering delegates on July 24,1952, after the name of Gov. Adlai Stevenson is placed in nomination for the presidency. Photo: AP
Cheering delegates jam the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on July 24, 1952, after Gov. Adlai Stevenson’s name is placed in nomination for the presidency. It was the last major-party convention to go more than one ballot. (AP Photo)

Republicans opposed to Donald Trump as their party’s nominee are pinning most of their hopes on stopping him at this summer’s national convention in Cleveland. Although Trump has more delegates than his two remaining rivals (760 or so by our count), he needs at least 1,237 to win the nomination on the first ballot. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are hoping to win enough delegates in the remaining primaries to keep Trump from reaching that magic number. After the first ballot, the thinking goes, most delegates become “unbound” and can vote for other candidates. They could even draft a completely new candidate (though House Speaker Paul Ryan, a frequently mentioned “dark horse” alternative, ruled himself out earlier this week).

If all that sounds a bit like a Hail Mary pass, bear in mind that these situations have happened before. Not recently, mind you (the last time was at the 1952 Democratic convention), but they have happened. Since the Civil War there have been eight Republican and 10 Democratic conventions that took more than one ballot to pick a nominee. In only seven of those 18 instances did the first-ballot leader win the nomination.

Bearing in mind that until the 1970s most convention delegates were chosen by party insiders rather than in primaries, here’s a look back at the cases in which someone came from behind to win the nomination from the first-ballot leader. They illustrate the machinations, sudden shifts in momentum and general unpredictability of contested conventions. (By the way, only four of these 11 men ended up winning the presidency, the last one more than a century ago.) Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties, Voting Issues

Apr 14, 2016 10:00 am

Apprehensions of Mexican migrants at U.S. borders reach near-historic low

The number of Mexican migrants apprehended at U.S. borders in fiscal 2015 dropped to the lowest levels in nearly 50 years, according to U.S. Border Patrol data. This change comes after a period in which net migration of Mexicans to the U.S. had fallen to lows not seen since the 1940s.

This decline in apprehensions coincides with recently released estimates by Mexico’s top statistical agency, which show that the rate at which Mexicans migrated to the U.S. and other countries – including both legal and unauthorized immigrants – has held steady for the past five years, after a dramatic drop during the Great Recession.

Apprehensions of Mexicans at U.S. borders fall to near historic lows in 2015Apprehensions of Mexican migrants declined to near-historic lows last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 2015, according to data released earlier in the year by the U.S. Border Patrol. (U.S. border apprehension data are commonly used as an indicator of the flows of migrants entering the U.S. illegally, though they are only a partial measure.) In fiscal 2015, the Border Patrol made 188,122 apprehensions of Mexican migrants at U.S. borders, an 18% decline from the previous year – and the lowest number of apprehensions on record since 1969, when there were 159,376 apprehensions. The decline suggests unauthorized immigration flows from Mexico could be falling. Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Latin America, Mexico, Migration, Unauthorized Immigration

Apr 13, 2016 9:25 am

High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’?

Corporations paying fewer taxes

Tax-deadline season isn’t many people’s favorite time of the year, but most Americans are OK with the amount of tax they pay. It’s what other people pay, or don’t pay, that bothers them.

Just over half (54%) of Americans surveyed in fall by Pew Research Center said they pay about the right amount in taxes considering what they get from the federal government, versus 40% who said they pay more than their fair share. But in a separate 2015 survey by the Center, some six-in-ten Americans said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that “some wealthy people” and “some corporations” don’t pay their fair share. Read More

Topics: Economic Policy, Economics and Personal Finances, Taxes

Apr 13, 2016 7:00 am

Americans divided on how much they trust their neighbors

Whites, seniors, wealthy among those most likely to trust their neighborsGood neighbors can be a blessing, whether they’re people you can trust to water the plants or watch the kids. But building that trust can be hard: Just half of Americans (52%) say they trust all or most of their neighbors, while a similar share (48%) say they trust some or none of their neighbors, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey.

Not surprisingly, those who say they feel unsafe in their neighborhoods are less likely to trust their neighbors. Just 17% of respondents who feel “not at all safe” from crime when walking in their neighborhoods after dark say they trust all or most of their neighbors, compared with 71% of those who feel “very safe.” Urban residents – who are less likely than suburban or rural residents to say they feel very safe in their neighborhoods – are also less likely to say they trust all or most of their neighbors.

The demographic differences on neighborly trust are largely related to economic class, at a time of rising residential segregation by income. Our survey finds that Americans who can afford to live in more affluent neighborhoods are generally more trusting of their neighbors: 67% of those with household incomes of $75,000 or more say they trust all or most of their neighbors, compared with just 37% of those earning less than $30,000 per year. Read More

Topics: Race and Ethnicity, Social Values, Socioeconomic Class, Violence and Society

Apr 12, 2016 10:00 am

How highly religious Americans’ lives are different from others

Plenty of attention has been paid to the political disagreements between highly religious and less religious Americans, including on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion. But there has been less talk about how these groups differ – when they do – in how they live their everyday lives.

Pew Research Center set out to explore this topic from a number of different angles in a new report that is part of our U.S. Religious Landscape Study. Here are three areas where the highly religious – defined in this study as the 30% of U.S. adults who say they pray daily and attend religious services at least once a week – are different from the remaining 70% of the population, and three areas where they are not:

Ways in which the highly religious and less religious are different:

  • On average, Americans who say they attend religious services weekly and pray daily also report being happier than those who are less religiously committed. Four-in-ten highly religious adults say they are generally “very happy,” compared with 29% of those who are less religious. Those who are not highly religious are somewhat more likely than the most devout to say they are “pretty happy” (54% vs. 46%) or “not too happy” (14% vs. 12%).
  • Highly religious Americans see their extended families more often. Nearly half (47%) say they do this at least once or twice a month, while only 30% of less religious adults get together with extended family as often. Americans who are not highly religious are twice as likely as those who are highly religious to say they seldom or never attend gatherings with extended family (31% vs. 16%).
  • Volunteerism and donations to the poor are especially common practices for those who are highly religious. Among people who pray daily and attend services weekly, 45% also say they volunteered in the past week (including 23% who did so mainly through a church or other religious organization). Just 28% of Americans who are not highly religious say they volunteered in the past seven days. The gap is even bigger when it comes to helping the poor: 65% of the highly religious say they donated money, time or goods to help the poor in the past week, compared with 41% of all other U.S. adults.

Read More

Topics: Religion and Society

Apr 11, 2016 2:00 pm

Among developed nations, Americans’ tax bills are below average

US Americans pay less in taxes than Europeans

With the April 18 tax-filing deadline rapidly approaching, some U.S. taxpayers may be thinking a lot about just how much they are forking over to (or getting from) Uncle Sam. A Pew Research Center report last year found that the public sees the nation’s tax system as deeply flawed: 59% of people surveyed agreed that “there is so much wrong with the federal tax system that Congress should completely change it,” while just 38% said the system “works pretty well” and requires “only minor changes.”

We wondered how Americans’ tax bills compare with those of people in other countries. While cross-national comparisons of tax burdens are complicated and tricky, most research has concluded that, at least among developed nations, the U.S. is on the low end of the rangeRead More

Topics: Taxes

Apr 8, 2016 1:32 pm

From multiracial children to gender identity, what some demographers are studying now

When two people of different races have a child together, how do they choose to identify the race of their child on census forms? This was one of the topics explored by researchers at this year’s annual Population Association of America meeting. (Photo credit: Steven C. De La Cruz/Getty Images)
When two people of different races have a child together, how do they choose to identify the race of their child on census forms? This was one of the topics explored by researchers at this year’s annual Population Association of America meeting. (Photo credit: Steven C. De La Cruz/Getty Images)

The nation’s largest annual demography conference, held in Washington, D.C., last week, featured new research on topics including couples who live in separate homes, children of multiracial couples, transgender Americans, immigration law enforcement and how climate change affects migration. Here is a roundup of five of the many innovative posters and papers from the Population Association of America meeting, some based on preliminary work. They give insight into the questions on researchers’ minds. (To see the conference presentations by our own Pew Research Center experts, check out this page.)

Living Apart Together

As marriage declines in popularity and other kinds of relationships replace it, a category of couple known as Living Apart Together is the focus of new research in the U.S. These LAT couples, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, say they are in a long-term relationship but do not live together. They include older couples who each own homes as well as people who work in different cities. There’s been some research on these LAT couples in Europe, but until recently, less in the U.S.

Read More

Category: Social Studies

Topics: Demographics, Energy and Environment, Family and Relationships, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Gender, Generations and Age, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Intermarriage, Lifestyle, Migration, Population Geography, Population Trends, Race and Ethnicity, Unauthorized Immigration

Apr 8, 2016 12:02 pm

Pope’s proclamation, like views of U.S. Catholics, indicates openness to nontraditional families

Pope Francis today issued a 256-page proclamation exhorting Catholic clergy to be more welcoming to those involved in what the church considers nontraditional relationships, including people who have been divorced and remarried, gay couples and unmarried men and women living together in romantic relationships. While the document – titled “Amoris Laetitia” or “The Joy of Love” – is largely aspirational (it doesn’t change any church rules), its words and tone may be more in line with what many American Catholics already think, according to our surveys.

Indeed, a 2015 Pew Research Center survey of Catholic views on family life found that U.S. Catholics want the church to be welcoming to people living in a variety of nontraditional arrangements. For example, six-in-ten Catholics say they think the church should allow those who are divorced and have remarried without obtaining an annulment to receive Communion. And a similar share of Catholics think cohabiting couples should be permitted to receive the Eucharist. In addition, nearly half of American Catholics say the church should recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

The data also show that many Catholics believe that in the near future the church will make key changes in its handling of family matters. Indeed, about six-in-ten U.S. Catholics say they think the church will reverse its ban on birth control in the coming decades, while more than half say they think the church will soon allow cohabiting Catholics and those who have remarried without an annulment to receive Communion. Fewer Catholics think the church will recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples in the near future. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Marriage and Divorce, Religion and Society, Religious Leaders