Jan 16, 2015 11:25 am

Religious conversion in Latin America: How we surveyed people on their beliefs

Neha Sahgal, Senior Researcher, Pew Research Center
Neha Sahgal, Senior Researcher, Pew Research Center

Late last year, the Pew Research Center released a major survey on religion in 18 Latin American countries and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, finding that many Latin Americans are leaving Catholicism and joining evangelical Protestant churches.

Fact Tank sat down with Neha Sahgal, one of the study’s lead researchers, to learn more about how Pew Research was able to reach these conclusions:

In general, how do you manage to determine whether people have converted from one faith tradition to another?

The Pew Research Center routinely conducts surveys that, among other topics, address religious conversion. Typically, we do not ask respondents if they have changed their religious faith, because people may answer this question in different ways. For example, to one respondent, switching from Catholicism to Protestantism may constitute changing their faith, while to another it may not. Instead, in the Latin America survey, we asked all respondents about their current religion, and we also asked them how they were raised as a child. When childhood religion differed from current religion – for example, someone who said that he or she is currently Protestant but was raised Catholic – we considered this an instance of “religious switching.”

This approach captured substantial levels of religious switching in Latin America – in nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses.

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Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Latin America, Pentecostals and Pentecostalism, Religious Affiliation, Research Methodology

Jan 16, 2015 7:00 am

This year, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers

Millennials largest generation outnumber Baby BoomersThis year, the “Millennial” generation is projected to surpass the outsized Baby Boom generation as the nation’s largest living generation, according to the population projections released by the U.S. Census Bureau last month. Millennials (whom we define as between ages 18 to 34 in 2015) are projected to number 75.3 million, surpassing the projected 74.9 million Boomers (ages 51 to 69). The Gen X population (ages 35 to 50 in 2015) is projected to outnumber the Boomers by 2028.

The Millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand their ranks. Boomers – a generation defined by the boom in U.S. births following World War II — are older and shrinking in size as the number of deaths exceed the number of older immigrants arriving in the country. Read More

Topics: Baby Boomers, Generations and Age, Millennials, U.S. Census

Jan 15, 2015 12:28 pm

For most highly educated women, motherhood doesn’t start until the 30s

best time for women to have children career familyWhen should women who want to advance professionally have children? The public is split — 36% say that having kids early in her career is the way to go for a woman who wants to “reach a top executive position,” while 40% say it’s better for a woman to hold off until she’s well established in her career. And another one-fifth say that women who want to advance up the career ladder should not have kids at all, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

But what are U.S. women — particularly those well-positioned to pursue a career — actually doing when it comes to building their families? Read More

Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, Educational Attainment, Family and Relationships, Work and Employment

Jan 15, 2015 11:40 am

5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe

Recent violence in France and protest marches in Germany have drawn renewed attention to Europe’s Muslim population. In many European countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, concerns about growing Muslim communities have led to calls for restrictions on immigration. But just how large is Europe’s Muslim population, and how fast is it growing? Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Europe, Muslims and Islam

Jan 14, 2015 2:01 pm

Job shifts under Obama: Fewer government workers, more caregivers, servers and temps

With the unemployment rate down to 5.6% as of December (the lowest since mid-2008), Americans are at long last feeling better about the economy. According to a new Pew Research Center report, 27% of U.S. adults say economic conditions are excellent or good, about twice the percentage who said that at the beginning of 2014. 31% expect the economy to be better a year from now, versus 17% who expect it to be worse, and for the first time in five years, more Americans say President Obama’s economic policies have made conditions better (38%) than worse (28%).

With Obama likely to discuss the improving economy in his State of the Union address next week, we decided to compare the latest payroll figures with the data from January 2009, to get a sense of how the nation’s employment structure has changed since Obama took office.

jobsSectorThe takeaway: An overall gain of 6.4 million more non-farm payroll jobs last month than in January 2009, which represents a 4.8% increase. All of that growth came from the private sector, while the public sector shrunk: Private payrolls have added 7 million jobs over Obama’s presidency, while government payrolls (federal, state and local) have contracted by a combined 634,000 jobs.

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Topics: Barack Obama, National Economy, Work and Employment

Jan 14, 2015 9:55 am

Women have long history in Congress, but until recently there haven’t been many

The new Congress that convened this month includes a record 108 women — 88 in the House (including four nonvoting delegates) and 20 in the Senate. While women still account for only about a fifth of each chamber, that’s a considerable increase from where things stood not too long ago.

A new Pew Research Center report looks at American women in leadership roles, both in business and politics. Women have served in Congress almost continuously for nearly a century. Although in the early decades a common route for women to Capitol Hill was succeeding their deceased husbands, nowadays nearly all women in Congress were elected on their own. Recently, their ranks have surged: Of the 278 women who’ve served in the House, more than half have been elected since 1992, and 23 of the 46 women who’ve ever served in the Senate took office in 1996 or later.

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Topics: Congress, Gender

Jan 14, 2015 8:28 am

French have positive views of both Jews, Muslims

Europe France views of Muslims, JewsLast week’s killings in Paris at a kosher market have raised new fears among Jews of growing anti-Semitism in France and elsewhere on the continent. The recent violence, carried out by an Islamic radical apparently linked to a separate attack at the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, also has raised concerns among Europe’s Muslim community about reprisal attacks and Islamophobia.

A Pew Research Center survey conducted last year shows that the French held more favorable views of both Jews and Muslims than many other Europeans. Indeed, 89% of French adults held favorable views of Jews, while 72% felt similarly about Muslims.

In nearly every other European country surveyed, majorities rated Jews favorably, including Britain (83%) and Germany (82%). One outlier was Greece, where as many people said they have a favorable view of Jews (47%) as an unfavorable view of them (47%). In addition, roughly one-quarter of the general public had an unfavorable view of Jews in Poland (26%) and Italy (24%).

Positive views of Muslims were also common in Britain (64%) and Germany (58%). But elsewhere, fewer people had a favorable view of Muslims, including roughly a third of the public in both Poland (32%) and in Italy (28%).

Topics: Jews and Judaism, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society, Western Europe

Jan 12, 2015 5:11 pm

Many in U.S. followed Charlie Hebdo story closely, but past terrorist incidents abroad drew more attention

News interest in terrorist incidents abroad: 2001-2015
The attack on the offices of the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo claiming 12 lives was the most closely followed news in the U.S. last week, but interest in the story was not as high when compared with four previous terrorist incidents abroad.

About three-in-ten Americans (29%) say they had followed the news from Paris very closely, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Read More

Topics: News Interest, Terrorism

Jan 12, 2015 10:34 am

114th Congress is most diverse ever

Almost one-in-five members of the House and Senate are a racial or ethnic minority, making the 114th Congress the most diverse in history. However, Congress remains disproportionately white when compared with the U.S. population, which has grown increasingly diverse in recent decades, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

114th Congress, By RaceOverall, non-whites (including blacks, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans) make up 17% of the new Congress, but that is below these groups’ 38% share of the nation’s population. This difference also exists among the newly elected members of Congress, as minorities account for 11 of 71 (15%) new members of the House and Senate. (No new senators are a racial or ethnic minority.)

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Topics: Congress, Demographics, Race and Ethnicity

Jan 12, 2015 7:05 am

Will GOP-run Congress lead to more Obama vetoes? History suggests yes

veto_summaryFor the first time in his presidency, Barack Obama now must deal with a Congress completely controlled by Republicans. That’s led some political observers to predict that Obama will be using his veto pen a lot more in his last two years in office than he did in the first six. (The White House already has threatened to veto bills authorizing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, changing the Affordable Care Act’s definition of a full-time worker, and delaying certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law.)

A look at recent history indicates that presidents do, in fact, veto more bills when both houses of Congress are controlled by the opposing party. We examined more than four decades of legislative data, courtesy of the Library of Congress’ THOMAS website, and found that when presidents are of one party and Congress is controlled by the other, they vetoed 3.6% of all public bills presented to them, versus just 1% when both House and Senate were controlled by the president’s party. When control of Congress was divided, presidents vetoed 1.9% of the public bills that reached their desks. (Public bills are those of general applicability, and account for the overwhelming number of laws Congress makes.) Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Congress