Jan 17, 2014 2:44 pm

On MLK Day, racial equality found wanting


Fewer than half of Americans said their country made a lot of progress toward racial equality in the past half century.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is widely viewed as a national hero for racial equality and justice, and Americans honored his legacy with the unveiling of a national memorial in Washington in 2011. Since 1986, three years after President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law, Americans have celebrated King’s legacy as a federal holiday on the third Monday of every year.

However, fewer than half (45%) of all Americans surveyed last year said they believe the U.S. has made substantial progress toward racial equality since 1963, when King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington. Roughly half of Americans (49%) said “a lot more” needs to be done to achieve racial equality. Broken down by race, a higher share of blacks (79%) than Hispanics (48%) and whites (44%) felt that way, according to a Pew Research Center report.

Economic gulfs have persisted between blacks and whites in the past few decades, according to our analysis. Blacks lagged behind whites in several measures, including both median household income and household wealth. In 2011, blacks were nearly three times as likely as whites to be living in poverty.

Yet, there are several racial gaps that have narrowed between blacks and whites, such as at-birth life expectancy and rates for high school completion and voter turnout. According to the latest Census Bureau estimates, the share of eligible blacks who cast ballots had been rising since 1996 and stood at about 66% for 2012 elections. That share is higher than the share of eligible whites who voted (64%) for the first time since the Census Bureau offered those numbers.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Race and Ethnicity

Jan 17, 2014 12:42 pm

Key findings about growing religious hostilities around the world

Pew Research Center has been tracking religious restrictions and hostilities around the world since 2007. Our new report found that a third of the 198 countries and territories studied in 2012 had a high or very high level of social hostilities involving religion, the highest share in the six years of the study. These hostilities – defined in the study as acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations or groups in society – increased in every major region of the world except the Americas. Here are some top findings: Read More

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

Jan 17, 2014 11:19 am

Data Feed: The future electoral map, smoking and children, optimism about New York’s mayor

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

What the U.S. electoral map may look like in 2060, The Washington Post
Our politics is polarized on more issues than ever before, The Washington Post
N.Y. optimistic about Mayor De Blasio; Poll on Bloomberg’s legacy out at 12pm, Quinnipiac
Americans rate economy as top priority for government, Gallup
American’s attitudes about abortion, American Enterprise Institute

4 million job openings at end of November, Bureau of Labor Statistics
50% wary of investing in stocks; and Satisfaction with economy sours, Gallup
Where are America’s millionaires? The Wall Street Journal
U.S. airline passenger numbers up 1.8%, Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Cold weather led to highest natural gas storage withdrawals, Energy Information Administration
Two-thirds of Americans say they go to movies less often, DemoMemo
Housing bubble was much worse for Hispanics, The Washington Post
New residential construction, Housing and Urban Development

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Jan 17, 2014 11:15 am

Chart of the Week: Many in the Americas say high joblessness can justify a coup


Coups d’etat have become a notably less common method of regime change since the end of the Cold War. According to the Center for Systemic Peace, which maintains extensive databases on various forms of armed conflict and political violence, there were just 13 coups worldwide between 2000 and 2012 (plus last year’s coup in Egypt), versus 21 since the 1990s. While most people would judge that an improvement, Vanderbilt University’s Latin American Public Opinion Project has found that, under the right circumstances, sizable shares of the population in several nations would countenance military takeovers of their countries. Read More

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: International Governments and Institutions

Jan 16, 2014 3:39 pm

The cost of giving birth varies widely


The median cost of an uncomplicated non-surgical delivery in California.

Recent reports have shown that hospital charges for the most common procedures can vary widely. A new report, published by BMJ Open and funded by the National Institutes of Health, looks at two of the most common procedures and finds wide variation in the cost of giving birth, both through normal delivery and Cesarean section.

Researchers compared data from over 100,000 uncomplicated births in California hospitals and found the charges for a vaginal delivery ranged from $3,296 to $37,227, with a median cost of $14,620. For uncomplicated births by c-section, the cost ranged from $8,312 to $70,908, with $27,481 median. Researchers Renee Y. Hsia, Yaa Akosa Antwi and Ellerie Weber found the highest hospital charge was 11 times higher than the lowest hospital charge for a vaginal birth. They found similarly large ranges for c-sections: The highest hospital charge was 8.5 times that of the lowest.

The study found that insurers pay on average 37% of the charges.

So, why the difference? Cost variables such as hospital ownership, case mix, the percent of uninsured in the county and market competitiveness each had a “significant impact” on the charges.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Health Care

Jan 16, 2014 11:19 am

Data Feed: Congress’s productivity, e-reading rises, alternative degree education

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Congress might be more productive and less partisan than you think, Sunlight Foundation
Our politics may be polarized, but that’s nothing new, The Washington Post
Are Christie’s political plans bottlenecked? With topline, NBC News/ Marist Poll
Ads attacking health laws stagger outspent Democrats, The New York Times
Prosecutorial discretion closures continue unabated in immigration courts, TRAC Syracuse

Minority women downsize their ambitions due to bias, Catalyst via Harvard Business Review
Paper or plastic? How Americans buy stuff, NPR
More Americans say they’re worse off financially than a year ago, Gallup
Bankers’ stock awards jet higher, The Wall Street Journal
Beige book on current economic conditions, Federal Reserve
Real average earnings fall 0.3%; and CPI increases 0.3%, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Jan 15, 2014 4:16 pm

In most states, jobless benefits capped at 26 weeks


Number of states where the maximum duration of unemployment benefits is 26 weeks.

Now that the effort to extend federal unemployment benefits appears dead, jobless Americans have only regular unemployment insurance to fall back upon. Those benefits are capped at 26 weeks in the great majority of states (as well as in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), acc0rding to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The regular unemployment insurance program is funded jointly by the states and the federal government, and within broad guidelines, each state can set its own benefit levels and eligibility rules. Two states allow people to collect benefits for longer periods: Massachusetts (30 weeks) and Montana (28 weeks); seven states, mainly in the Southeast, have set their maximum durations below 26 weeks.

UI_mapFlorida stands out as having among the tightest rules in the nation. Under a 2011 law, the maximum duration of benefits is tied to the state’s unemployment rate. The time limit was 19 weeks until this year, but because of falling unemployment (6.4% as of November) the maximum dropped to 16 weeks for new claims filed after Jan. 1.

The federal “emergency unemployment compensation” program, which made benefits available for as many as 47 weeks on top of the state maximums, expired at the end of 2013. One of the two proposals that failed Tuesday in the Senate would have extended the emergency program for three months; the other would have extended it for 11 months.

Jan 15, 2014 3:18 pm

The social life of health information

The online health community and the media lit up this week in a debate over whether it’s tasteful, appropriate or even beneficial to discuss one’s health problems with the world on social media.

While there’s been some discussion of the topic before, the news this week involved two prominent journalists who raised questions about one woman’s public approach to her life with stage IV breast cancer. Lisa Bonchek Adams, a 44-year-old mother of three, has lived with cancer for six years and developed a following among others diagnosed with cancer as well as clinicians, journalists and people who simply appreciate her perspectives.

Her tweets and blog posts address topics such as her approach to talking to her kids about her illness, her medical treatments and thoughts about facing the end of life. The Guardian’s Emma Keller wrote a column stating that “Adams was dying out loud.” A few days later, The New York Times’ Bill Keller (who is Emma’s husband) wrote a column relating his father-in-law’s “calm death” from cancer and asked whether Adams’ public updates about her health are the right approach.

We’ll leave the taste debate aside and instead look at the data about how many Americans gather and share health information online and whether there are any known benefits to doing so.

The Pew Research Center has studied the social life of health information since 2000 when we first measured how many people use online resources to find information or connect with others about health conditions.

Our latest national survey on the topic finds that seven-in-ten (72%) adult internet users say they have searched online for information about a range of health issues, the most popular being specific diseases and treatments. One-in-four (26%) adult internet users say they have read or watched someone else’s health experience about health or medical issues in the past 12 months. And 16% of adult internet users in the U.S. have gone online in the past 12 months to find others who share the same health concerns.


Read More

Topics: Health, Social Media

Jan 15, 2014 2:50 pm

College enrollment among low-income students still trails richer groups

collegeStudents_income2Higher education long has been seen as one of the best ways out of poverty, but connecting low-income students — even the high-achieving ones who presumably are best prepared for college-level work — with colleges and universities remains a challenge. On Thursday, President Obama is expected to meet with more than 100 college presidents at the White House to discuss ways of enrolling more low-income minority students and helping ensure more of them graduate.

College enrollment among low-income students has generally increased over the past several decades, according to data from the 2013 Digest of Educational Statistics (an arm of the federal Education Department). But the Great Recession and weak recovery have eroded the gains of recent years, and middle- and upper-income students remain far more likely to go to college. Read More

Topics: Education

Jan 15, 2014 1:56 pm

Pew Research increases share of interviews conducted by cellphone

Pew Research Center is making an important change in the way that we survey Americans by telephone. In the coming months, 60% of interviews in our national polls will be conducted via cellphones and 40% on landline phones. Over the past year, the ratio has been half cellphone, half landline.

We’re doing this because more Americans today no longer own landlines and rely only on cellphones. When we conduct our random-digit-dial phone surveys, we want to ensure that we’re reaching a sample of the population that is representative of the public. This shift has been gradual. When Pew Research started calling cellphones in 2008, they comprised 25% of our respondents. We increased that percentage to 33% in December 2009, to 40% in July 2011 and finally to 50% in January 2013.

According to the most recent report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, four-in-ten U.S. adults owned only a cellphone in 2013. Hispanics, African Americans, younger adults and the poor are more likely to use only a cell phone. By increasing the number of cellphone-only respondents, we can also ensure that we’re more accurately representing these groups.

In addition to capturing more of these “cell onlys”, this change also yields a better representation of the nearly one-in-five people (about 18%) who have both kinds of phones but rely primarily on their cellphones. These “dual users” who are contacted for surveys via cellphones are also demographically distinct and need to be properly represented in national samples. Among the people we interview on cellphones, about half only use cellphones and the remainder are “dual users.”

Cellphone interviewing costs more and takes more interviewer time than those conducted on landlines, but the improvement to the quality of our surveys is clear. For example, even with half of our interviews being conducted on cellphones, just 19% of respondents in our current surveys are under age 35; nationally this group comprises 31% of the adult population. We project that the share of young adults represented in our surveys will grow to 22% with our shift to more cellphone interviews.

Reaching the young adult population and ensuring they are properly represented in national surveys has always been a challenge for survey researchers. Our adjustments will still take us far short of the target of 31%, which means we will continue to make statistical adjustments to bring our samples into alignment with the population – not only on age, but other demographic characteristics through a process known as “weighting.”

And moving forward, we will continue to make adjustments to our survey methodology to address the changing technological landscape. Some have already suggested that in today’s mobile society, landline interviewing could be dropped entirely since nearly every American has a cell phone. But the current research suggests that we are not there–not yet, at least.

Some 7% of Americans have landline phones with no wireless access in their homes, and a significant number of people who have cellphones in their home are still not viably reachable over that device, either because another individual is the primary user, or because their cellphone is off most of the time, except for in emergencies. For the near future, we expect that a blend of cellphone and landline interviewing will continue to provide the broadest cross-section of the American population.

More information about our polling:
Why am I never called to be polled?
What good are polls?
Do pollsters have a code of ethics?
Why don’t you just conduct surveys on your website?
Other frequently asked questions

Topics: Research Methodology