Oct 6, 2015 1:12 pm

GOP speaker hopefuls have served far less time in House than predecessors

Speakers’ Prior House ExperienceThe first wave of Republicans who set out to succeed Speaker John Boehner all had less experience serving in the House than any lawmaker who rose to speaker in modern times. But the candidates’ relatively short tenures put them in the company of many of their fellow House Republicans today, more than half of whom were elected in 2010 or later.

The initial field of GOP candidates for speaker included Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California, who is in his fifth term; Jason Chaffetz of Utah, in his fourth term; and Daniel Webster of Florida, now in his third. (Update: McCarthy announced Thursday he was dropping out of the race.)

Long years of service have been the norm for past speakers, most of whom had accumulated twice as much time in the House as today’s candidates before wielding the gavel. Boehner was not elected speaker until his 11th term in the House, nor was his immediate predecessor, Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

Previous speakers with the most prior House experience include John McCormack (D-Mass.), who was the last speaker without a high school degree, with 18 terms; the recently deceased Jim Wright (D-Texas) with 17 terms; and Joe Cannon (R-Ill.), the powerful 19th-century statesman with the ubiquitous cigar, with 15 terms.

The shorter tenures of today’s Republican class continue a congressional experience gap between GOP lawmakers and Democrats, which has persisted since the 1960s and widened after the 2010 elections.  Read More

Topics: Congress, Election News, Elections and Campaigns

Oct 6, 2015 6:45 am

How abortion is regulated around the world

The regulation of abortion may vary widely from country to country, but nearly all nations – 96% – allow women to terminate their pregnancies in order to save their lives, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of 196 countries based on 2013 United Nations data. Indeed, only six countries do not allow women to receive abortions under any circumstances.

About a quarter of the countries in the analysis (50 countries, or 26%) only allow abortions to save the life of the mother. An additional 82 nations (42%) allow abortions when the mother’s life is at risk as well as for at least one other specific reason, such as to preserve a woman’s physical or mental health, in cases of rape or incest, because of fetal impairment or for social or economic reasons. And three-in-ten countries (58) allow abortions on request or for any reason, although many of these states do not allow women to terminate their pregnancies after a certain point (e.g., 20 weeks).

Explore an interactive map of worldwide abortion policies

The six countries that do not allow abortions under any circumstances are the Latin American nations of Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua as well as Vatican City (represented in the U.N. by the Holy See) and Malta, both of which are in Europe.

The Vatican and Malta are exceptions to the norm in Europe, where about three-quarters of countries allow abortions for any reason (73%). France, Germany, Greece and Russia are among the 32 European nations where this is the case. Read More

Topics: Abortion, Foreign Affairs and Policy

Oct 5, 2015 5:00 pm

California legalizes assisted suicide amid growing support for such laws

In a huge victory for the right-to-die movement, California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that legalizes doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in the nation’s most populous state. Brown’s action ends a yearlong saga prompted in part by the case of the late Brittany Maynard.

Maynard was a California native suffering from terminal brain cancer who made national headlines last year when she moved to Oregon (the first U.S. state to legally allow physician-assisted suicide) in order to be able to end her life. Before her death at age 29 on Nov. 1, 2014, she lobbied for California and other states to legalize doctor-assisted suicide, and her family has continued to advocate for the cause.

The California legislation initially stalled amid opposition from the Catholic Church and other opponents. However, it was reintroduced and passed on Sept. 11 in a special legislative session.

Increasing Support for Doctor-Assisted SuicideThe action in California comes at a time when Americans’ opinions on assisted suicide are changing dramatically, according to a Gallup survey conducted in May of this year. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) say doctors should be allowed by law to assist patients who are terminally ill and living in severe pain to commit suicide. That’s an increase of 10 percentage points in just one year, and 17 points over two years.

More Americans View Assisted Suicide as Morally AcceptableThe rise in support for legal assisted suicide has been especially dramatic among younger adults, like Maynard. Indeed, about eight-in-ten Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 (81%) favor such laws, a rise from 62% in a 2014 Gallup survey.

Gallup also has found that an increasing share of Americans say doctor-assisted suicide, in general, is morally acceptable. In 2015, 56% say it is morally OK, up from 45% two years prior.

Pew Research Center most recently asked Americans about their views on end-of-life medical issues – including whether a person has a moral right to end his or her own life in certain circumstances – in 2013. Most Americans said this moral right does exist in cases where a person has a disease that is incurable (56%) or when the person is suffering great pain and has no hope of improvement (62%); both figures have increased in recent decades. Read More

Topics: Church-State Law, Death and Dying, Health, Health Care, Religion and Government, Religion and Society, Religion and U.S. Politics

Oct 5, 2015 12:00 pm

Today’s newly arrived immigrants are the best-educated ever

Today's Newly Arrived Immigrants Are More Educated Than EverThe immigrants who have recently come to the United States are the most highly educated in history. A new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that 41% of immigrants arriving here in the past five years had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. By comparison, only 20% of newly arrived immigrants in 1970 were similarly educated.

Educational attainment has also risen over the past 50 years for adults born in the U.S. For example, in 2013, three-in-ten U.S.-born adults had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, triple the share of U.S.-born adults that had done the same in 1970.

But newly arrived immigrants remain more likely than the U.S. born to have earned a degree, and that gap is now at its biggest since 1970. In that year, new arrivals had a 9-percentage-point advantage over U.S.-born adults in the share completing a bachelor’s degree (20% versus 11%). That advantage narrowed to 6 points in 1990. But the advantage in college completion held by recently arrived immigrants has since widened, to about 12 points as of 2013 (41% versus 30%). Read More

Topics: Education, Educational Attainment, Immigration, Immigration Trends

Oct 5, 2015 10:00 am

Future immigration will change the face of America by 2065

A snapshot of the United States in 2065 would show a nation that has 117 million more people than today, with no racial or ethnic majority group taking the place of today’s white majority, according to new Pew Research Center projections. About one-in-three Americans would be an immigrant or have immigrant parents, compared with one-in-four today.

Share of Immigrants and Their Children on the RiseThese projections show that new immigrants and their descendants will drive most U.S. population growth in the coming 50 years, as they have for the past half-century. Among the projected 441 million Americans in 2065, 78 million will be immigrants and 81 million will be people born in the U.S. to immigrant parents.

The projected changes in population makeup could have implications in a variety of realms, changing the face of the electorate, raising the education levels among the foreign-born population and altering the nation’s birth patterns. Read More

Topics: Asian Americans, Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Population Projections, Population Trends

Oct 1, 2015 12:09 pm

Women more than men adjust their careers for family life

For working parents in the U.S., the challenge of juggling careers and family life continues to be a front-burner issue – one that is being recognized by a growing number of employers who have adopted family-friendly policies such as paid leave. But while few Americans want to see a return to traditional roles of women at home and men in the workplace, one reality persists: Women most often are the ones who adjust their schedules and make compromises when the needs of children and other family members collide with work, Pew Research Center data show.

In a 2013 survey, we found that mothers were much more likely than fathers to report experiencing significant career interruptions in order to attend to their families’ needs. Part of this is due to the fact that gender roles are lagging behind labor force trends. While women represent nearly half of the U.S. workforce, they still devote more time than men on average to housework and child care and fewer hours to paid work, although the gap has narrowed significantly over time. Among working parents of children younger than 18, mothers in 2013 spent an average of 14.2 hours per week on housework, compared with fathers’ 8.6 hours. And mothers spent 10.7 hours per week actively engaged in child care, compared with fathers’ 7.2 hours.

Very Few Americans Say Full-Time Working Mom Is Ideal for Young Children

Another factor is the way that society views the bond between mothers and their children. In a 2012 Pew Research survey, the vast majority of Americans (79%) rejected the notion that women should return to their traditional role in society. Yet when they were asked what is best for young children, very few adults (16%) said that having a mother who works full time is the “ideal situation.” Some 42% said that having a mother who works part time is ideal and 33% said what’s best for young children is to have a mother who doesn’t work at all. Even among full-time working moms, only about one-in-five (22%) said that having a full-time working mother is ideal for young children.

When asked what’s best for women themselves, the public expressed a similar sentiment. Only 12% of adults said the ideal situation for women with young children is to work full time. About half (47%) said working part time is ideal for these women, while 33% said not working at all would be the best situation.

The public applies a much different standard to fathers. When we asked about the ideal situation for men with young children, fully seven-in-ten adults said working full time would be ideal for these fathers. One-in-five adults said part-time work would be ideal and only 4% said it would be best for these dads not to work at all.

In reality, the “ideal” situation is not always the most practical, nor is it always attainable. In fact, according to U.S. government data, 64% of mothers with children younger than 6 are in the labor force, and among working mothers, 72% work full time. Read More

Topics: Gender, Work and Employment

Oct 1, 2015 10:00 am

6 facts about teen romance in the digital age

Developing relationships, especially the romantic kind, are a fundamental part of growing up. Social media and mobile technology now permeate the lives of many teens, including their romantic relationships. A new Pew Research Center survey of 13- t0 17-year-olds examines how teens flirt, date and even break up in the digital age.

Here are six key findings:

1When it comes to meeting romantic partners, most teens do this offline. Only 8% of teens say they have met a romantic partner online. For the small share of teen daters who have met a romantic partner over the internet, Facebook was cited more than any other social media site as a way that teens connect with potential partners.

2Aside from in-person flirting, social media is the most common way teens express interest in someone they have a crush on. Although most teen romantic relationships do not start online, digital platforms serve as an important tool for flirting and showing romantic interest. Half of teens (50%) say they have friended someone on Facebook or another social media site as a way to show romantic interest, while 47% have expressed attraction by liking, commenting on or interacting with that person on social media. Additionally, 55% of teens say they show interest in someone by flirting with them in person. Teens also flirt by sharing something funny or interesting with their crush online (46%) or sending flirtatious messages (31%). Less popular flirting tactics include making their crush a music playlist (11%), sending flirty or sexy pictures or videos of themselves (10%) or making a video (7%). Read More

Topics: Family and Relationships, Online Dating, Teens and Technology, Teens and Youth

Sep 30, 2015 1:00 pm

How U.S. immigration laws and rules have changed through history

The United States began regulating immigration soon after it won independence from Great Britain, and the laws since enacted have reflected the politics and migrant flows of the times. Early legislation tended to impose limits that favored Europeans, but a sweeping 1965 law opened doors to immigrants from other parts of the world. In more recent years, laws and presidential actions have been shaped by concerns about refugees, unauthorized immigration and terrorism.

A 1790 law was the first to specify who could become a citizen, limiting that privilege to free whites of “good moral character” who had lived in the U.S. for at least two years. In 1870, the right of citizenship was extended to those of African origin.

Starting in 1875, a series of restrictions on immigration were enacted. They included bans on criminals, people with contagious diseases, polygamists, anarchists, beggars and importers of prostitutes. Other restrictions targeted the rising number of Asian immigrants, first limiting migration from China and later banning immigration from most Asian countries. Read More

Topics: Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Immigration Trends

Sep 30, 2015 11:00 am

On views of immigrants, Americans largely split along party lines

When it comes to how Americans view the impact of immigration on U.S. society and life, there’s a big partisan gap – a gap once again reflected in the nation’s politics, particularly in the Republican presidential campaign.

Nearly 59 million immigrants have come to the U.S. since Congress passed the nation’s 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which reshaped the face of America. Three-quarters of immigrants in this current wave come from Latin America and Asia. Today, there are 45 million immigrants in the U.S. who make up a near-record 14% of the U.S. population, including an estimated 11.3 unauthorized immigrants.

U.S. Views of Immigrants, by PartyOverall, Americans have mixed views about the impact immigrants have had on American society, with 45% saying they are making society better in the long run and 37% saying they are making it worse, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March and April.

But the partisan divide on this question is more pronounced. About half of Republicans (53%) say immigrants coming to the U.S. make society worse in the long run, compared with just 24% of Democrats.

On specific issues, the survey also found:

Read More

Topics: Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Immigration Trends, U.S. Political Parties

Sep 30, 2015 7:00 am

Europe’s asylum seekers: Who they are, where they’re going, and their chances of staying

FT_15.09.29_asylum_420pxThe European Union is still struggling to come up with a systematic way to both manage the unprecedented numbers of refugees streaming across its borders and try to keep more from coming. But even as tens of thousands of Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and others continue flooding into Europe, they’ll likely find that applying for asylum and getting permission to stay are two very different things.

We looked at data compiled by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency, on asylum applications to the 28 nations in the bloc (along with four other European countries that follow the EU’s rules for handling asylum requests). So far this year, according to the data, migrants have their best chance of gaining asylum if they (a) are from Syria, Eritrea or Iraq, and (b) apply in Bulgaria, Denmark or Malta.

Although the Eurostat data run only through part of August, they show that more than 600,000 people have applied for asylum in EU countries so far this year – 58% more than applied in the first eight months of 2014, and just shy of last year’s total of 662,000. (It’s important to note that the Eurostat figures only count people who have formally applied for asylum. Under EU law, asylum seekers generally are supposed to apply in the first EU country they enter, but thousands upon thousands are crossing southern and eastern Europe trying to reach more preferred destinations, such as Germany or Sweden, that have a more welcoming stance toward migrants and offer more benefits and job prospects.)  Read More

Topics: Europe, Migration