Apr 13, 2017 7:03 am

6 facts about the U.S. military and its changing demographics

Troops assemble at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar in December 2013. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Troops assembled at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar in December 2013. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As the size of the active-duty U.S. military has edged downward, its demographic makeup has changed, largely in ways that reflect trends in the broader society.

There were 1,340,533 active-duty troops in 2015 (including those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard). This marks the smallest active-duty force since 2001, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). In addition, the share of Americans serving in the active-duty military has declined marginally to 0.4% of the population in 2015 (down from 0.5% in 2009).

Here are some key facts about today’s military.  Read More

Topics: Demographics, Federal Government, Military and Veterans

Apr 12, 2017 11:35 am

Share of married Americans is falling, but they still pay most of the nation’s income taxes

While the share of U.S. adults who are married has been falling steadily over the past 40 years, married people continue to earn most of the nation’s income and pay the vast majority of income taxes, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of IRS tax administration data.

In 1970, 69% of adults were married, and they paid 80% of all federal income taxes. As of 2014, the share of married adults had dropped to half of the adult population (50%) but the share of income taxes paid by them fell much less, to 74%.

The same period saw a sharper decline in the share of all tax returns filed as married (either “married, filing jointly” or “married, filing separately”). In 1970, married returns accounted for 60% of all returns, but fell to just 38% in 2014 – the most recent year that complete tax data are available.

The fact that married Americans continue to pay roughly three-quarters of the nation’s income taxes, in spite of their dwindling share of the adult population, is in part a result of the changing demographics and economics of marriage. Marriage is increasingly linked with higher levels of education, which are in turn linked to higher incomes.

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Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Marriage and Divorce, Taxes

Apr 12, 2017 7:06 am

Muslims, Jews faced social hostilities in seven-in-ten European countries in 2015

Europe in 2015 saw a rise in social hostilities involving religion, particularly against the continent’s Muslims, according to a new Pew Research Center study on global religious restrictions. Muslims faced social hostilities in seven-in-ten (71%) countries in Europe, an increase from 58% the year before.

Along with sub-Saharan Africa, Europe experienced the sharpest year-over-year increase in social hostilities targeting Muslims, with both regions registering increases of 13 percentage points. But the share of sub-Saharan African countries with hostilities toward Muslims was the second lowest (38%) of five regions evaluated, while Europe had the largest share of any region.

Social hostilities toward Jews, meanwhile, remained at high levels in Europe: In 2015, 33 of the continent’s 45 countries (73%) had incidents of social hostilities aimed at Jews, a slight increase from 32 countries (71%) the previous year.

Social hostilities are defined as actions aimed at members of religious groups by private individuals and social groups. These actions can include hostile rhetoric, vandalism and physical assaults. They differ from government restrictions on religion, which also increased in Europe in 2015.

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Topics: Europe, Religion and Society, Religion and Government, Sub-Saharan Africa, Religious Affiliation, Restrictions on Religion, Muslims and Islam, Discrimination and Prejudice, Jews and Judaism

Apr 11, 2017 12:33 pm

U.S. private prison population has declined in recent years

After a period of steady growth, the number of inmates held in private prisons in the United States has declined modestly in recent years and continues to represent a small share of the nation’s total prison population.

In 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, about 126,000 prisoners were held in privately operated facilities under the jurisdiction of 29 states and the federal Bureau of Prisons. That’s an 83% increase since 1999, the first year with comparable data, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). By comparison, the total U.S. prison population increased 12% during that span.

In more recent years, however, both the private and overall U.S. prison populations have declined at modest rates. The private prison population has shrunk by 8% since its peak in 2012, while the overall prison population has fallen by 5% since its peak in 2009. (The state private prison population peaked in 2012 with 96,774 prisoners, while the federal private prison population reached its peak a year later in 2013, with 41,159 prisoners.)

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Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Criminal Justice, Federal Government, State and Local Government

Apr 11, 2017 10:18 am

Government harassment, use of force against religious groups increased sharply in Europe in 2015

Government harassment and use of force against members of religious groups surged around the world in 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center study on global religious restrictions. But nowhere was this trend more pronounced than in Europe, where over half of countries (53%) saw an increase from the previous year.

More specifically, governments of 38 European countries (84%) harassed religious groups in limited or widespread ways in 2015, while the governments of 24 countries in Europe (53%) used some type of force against religious groups.

The increase in Europe in 2015 occurred as a record 1.3 million migrants applied for asylum on the continent. Over half of the asylum-seekers came from the Muslim-majority countries of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. While many of the government incidents involved long-standing tensions between religious communities and European governments, some were focused on this new, incoming population.

In addition to recording the biggest increase in government harassment and use of force against religious groups, Europe also had the second-largest overall share of countries (89%) that exhibited these types of actions. Only the Middle East-North Africa region (95%) had more governments that harassed or used force against religious groups. Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region had lower shares of government harassment or use of force against religious groups, although over seven-in-ten countries in each region had these types of government restrictions.  Read More

Topics: Europe, Religion and Society, Religion and Government, Religious Affiliation, Restrictions on Religion

Apr 10, 2017 11:30 am

Americans have mixed views on policies encouraging broadband adoption

As the Federal Communications Commission continues to address broadband infrastructure and access, Americans have mixed views on two policies designed to encourage broadband adoption, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

A substantial majority of the public (70%) believes local governments should be able to build their own broadband networks if existing services in the area are either too expensive or not good enough, according to the survey, conducted March 13-27. Just 27% of U.S. adults say these so-called municipal broadband networks should not be allowed. (A number of state laws currently prevent cities from building their own high-speed networks, and several U.S. senators recently introduced a bill that would ban these restrictions.)

At the same time, fewer than half of Americans (44%) think the government should provide subsidies to help lower-income Americans pay for high-speed internet at home. A larger share (54%) says high-speed home internet service is affordable enough that nearly every household should be able to buy service on its own.  Read More

Topics: Federal Government, Technology Adoption, Broadband, Emerging Technology Impacts

Apr 10, 2017 7:00 am

Immigration offenses make up a growing share of federal arrests

Federal law enforcement agencies are making more arrests for immigration-related offenses and fewer arrests for other types of offenses – including drug, property and gun crimes – than they were a decade ago, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Half (50%) of the 165,265 total arrests made by the federal government in fiscal 2014 – the most recent year for which statistics are available – were for immigration-related offenses, such as crossing the border illegally or smuggling others into the United States. A decade earlier, immigration-related offenses accounted for 28% of all federal arrests.

At the same time, arrests for drug crimes fell from 23% of the total in 2004 to 14% in 2014. Those for supervision violations, such as probation or parole infractions, fell from 17% to 14%. Arrests for property crimes, including fraud and embezzlement, declined from 11% to 8%. And arrests for weapon offenses, such as possession of an unregistered firearm, fell from 7% to 4%.  Read More

Topics: Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration, Criminal Justice, Federal Government

Apr 7, 2017 9:30 am

Why people with no religion are projected to decline as a share of the world’s population

For years, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has been rising, a trend similar to what has been happening in much of Europe (including the United Kingdom). Despite this, in coming decades, the global share of religiously unaffiliated people is actually expected to fall, according to Pew Research Center’s new study on the future of world religions.

To be clear, the total number of religiously unaffiliated people (which includes atheists, agnostics and those who do not identify with any religion in particular) is expected to rise in absolute terms, from 1.17 billion in 2015 to 1.20 billion in 2060. But this growth is projected to occur at the same time that other religious groups – and the global population overall – are growing even faster.

These projections, which take into account demographic factors such as fertility, age composition and life expectancy, forecast that people with no religion will make up about 13% of the world’s population in 2060, down from roughly 16% as of 2015.

Read More

Topics: Religious Affiliation, Population Projections, Religiously Unaffiliated

Apr 7, 2017 7:02 am

Disabled Americans are less likely to use technology

This is the second in a series of posts about how different demographic groups in the U.S. have fared in the digital age.

More than 56 million people in the United States are living with a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But even as a growing share of these Americans report going online or owning a smartphone, the digital divide between those who have a disability and those who don’t remains large.

Disabled Americans are about three times as likely as those without a disability to say they never go online (23% vs. 8%), according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in the fall of 2016. When compared with those who do not have a disability, disabled adults are roughly 20 percentage points less likely to say they subscribe to home broadband and own a traditional computer, a smartphone or a tablet.

Adults who report having a disability are also less likely to have multiple devices that enable them to go online. One-in-four disabled adults say they have high-speed internet at home, a smartphone, a desktop or laptop computer and a tablet, compared with 42% of those who report not having a disability.  Read More

Topics: Health, Technology Adoption, Digital Divide, Mobile

Apr 6, 2017 12:00 pm

Why Muslims are the world’s fastest-growing religious group

In the next half century or so, Christianity’s long reign as the world’s largest religion may come to an end, according to a just-released report that builds on Pew Research Center’s original population growth projections for religious groups. Indeed, Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2015 and 2060 and, in the second half of this century, will likely surpass Christians as the world’s largest religious group.

While the world’s population is projected to grow 32% in the coming decades, the number of Muslims is expected to increase by 70% – from 1.8 billion in 2015 to nearly 3 billion in 2060. In 2015, Muslims made up 24.1% of the global population. Forty-five years later, they are expected to make up more than three-in-ten of the world’s people (31.1%).

The main reasons for Islam’s growth ultimately involve simple demographics. To begin with, Muslims have more children than members of the seven other major religious groups analyzed in the study. Muslim women have an average of 2.9 children, significantly above the next-highest group (Christians at 2.6) and the average of all non-Muslims (2.2). In all major regions where there is a sizable Muslim population, Muslim fertility exceeds non-Muslim fertility.  Read More

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