Jul 14, 2015 12:08 pm

5 key takeaways about Twitter, Facebook and news use

Twitter and Facebook News Use More Americans get news on Twitter and Facebook than in the past, according to a new report by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The survey of 2,035 U.S. adults sheds light on Americans’ evolving news and information habits on the two platforms.

Here are five key takeaways from the report:

1More users are getting news on both sites than in the past. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Facebook users and the same share of Twitter users get news via each of the social media sites. This is up substantially from 2013, when about half of each social network’s users (47% for Facebook, 52% for Twitter) reported getting news there. (In both studies, we defined news as “information about events and issues beyond just friends and family.”) This increase in exposure to news among users emerges even as overall usage of each site has remained steady since 2013: 17% of U.S. adults use Twitter and two-thirds (66%) use Facebook. Overall, 10% of all U.S. adults get news on Twitter, and 41% get news on Facebook. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: News Audience Trends and Attitudes, Social Media, State of the News Media

Jul 14, 2015 11:11 am

5 facts about Americans’ views on space exploration

New Horizons Approaches Pluto
Artist’s rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft as it approaches Pluto.
(Image by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

If all went according to plan, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft swept past Pluto this morning just before 8 a.m. Eastern time, offering scientists and the public a glimpse at the previously unexplored edge of the solar universe. New Horizons launched in 2006 and has traveled 3 billion miles to get to within 7,800 miles of the icy dwarf planet. The spacecraft is expected to check in with mission control later today and send back photos and information about Pluto.

This major milestone in space travel is a reminder of the special place that America’s space program has in the public imagination and in scientific circles. Here are five key takeaways from Pew Research Center and other surveys about Americans’ views toward space exploration:

1U.S. Continuing to be World Leader in pace Exploration Is...Americans are supportive of the space program and space exploration. In a 2011 Pew Research survey, 58% of Americans said it is essential that the U.S. be a world leader in space exploration.

Some 38% said they think the space program contributes “a lot” to scientific advancements that Americans can use, and another 36% said the program contributes “some” to such advancements.  Most also said that the space program contributes a lot (34%) or some (34%) to America’s national pride and patriotism. More broadly, in a 2009 Pew Research survey, 74% said that space exploration does more good than harm, while only 17% said it does more harm than good. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Science and Innovation

Jul 14, 2015 7:00 am

Black child poverty rate holds steady, even as other groups see declines

Child Poverty Rate Stable Among Blacks, Drops Among Other Groups

Year Asian White Hispanic Black
1976 9.8% 30.2% 40.6%
1977 9.9% 28.3% 41.8%
1978 9.6% 27.6% 41.5%
1979 10.1% 28.0% 41.2%
1980 11.8% 33.2% 42.3%
1981 12.9% 35.9% 45.2%
1982 14.4% 39.5% 47.6%
1983 14.8% 38.1% 46.7%
1984 13.7% 39.2% 46.6%
1985 12.8% 40.3% 43.6%
1986 13.0% 37.7% 43.1%
1987 23.5% 11.8% 39.3% 45.1%
1988 24.1% 11.0% 37.6% 43.5%
1989 19.8% 11.5% 36.2% 43.7%
1990 17.6% 12.3% 38.4% 44.8%
1991 17.5% 13.1% 40.4% 45.9%
1992 16.4% 13.2% 40.0% 46.6%
1993 18.2% 13.6% 40.9% 46.1%
1994 18.3% 12.5% 41.5% 43.8%
1995 19.5% 11.2% 40.0% 41.9%
1996 19.5% 11.1% 40.3% 39.9%
1997 20.3% 11.4% 36.8% 37.2%
1998 18.0% 10.6% 34.4% 36.7%
1999 11.9% 9.4% 30.3% 33.2%
2000 12.7% 9.1% 28.4% 31.2%
2001 11.5% 9.5% 28.0% 30.2%
2002 11.7% 9.4% 28.6% 32.3%
2003 12.5% 9.8% 29.7% 34.1%
2004 9.9% 10.5% 28.9% 33.7%
2005 11.1% 10.0% 28.3% 34.5%
2006 12.2% 10.0% 26.9% 33.4%
2007 12.5% 10.1% 28.6% 34.5%
2008 14.6% 10.6% 30.6% 34.7%
2009 14.0% 11.9% 33.1% 35.7%
2010 14.4% 12.3% 34.9% 39.0%
2011 13.5% 12.5% 34.1% 38.8%
2012 13.8% 12.3% 33.8% 37.9%
2013 10.1% 10.7% 30.4% 38.3%

Pew Research Center

The share of American children living in poverty has declined slightly since 2010 as the nation’s economy has improved. But the poverty rate has changed little for black children, the group most likely to be living in poverty, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. Read More

Topics: Poverty, Race and Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Class, Teens and Youth

Jul 13, 2015 1:29 pm

Learning a foreign language a ‘must’ in Europe, not so in America

Foreign Language Study Requirements in EuropeA popular stereotype of Americans traveling abroad is the tourist who is at a loss when it comes to coping with any language other than English. Fair or not, the fact is that while the U.S. does not have a national requirement for students to learn a foreign language in school, the typical European pupil must study multiple languages in the classroom before becoming a teen.

Studying a second foreign language for at least one year is compulsory in more than 20 European countries. In most European countries, students begin studying their first foreign language as a compulsory school subject between the ages of 6 and 9, according to a 2012 report from Eurostat, the statistics arm of the European Commission. This varies by country and sometimes within a country, with the German-speaking Community of Belgium – one of the three federal communities of Belgium– starting its 3-year-olds on a foreign language, but parts of the United Kingdom (excluding Scotland) waiting until age 11.

Ireland and Scotland are two exceptions that do not have compulsory language requirements, but Irish students learn both English and Gaelic (neither is considered a foreign language); Scottish schools are still obligated to offer at least one foreign-language option to all students ages 10-18. English is the most-studied foreign language across almost all European countries and at all education levels. Fully 73% of primary students in Europe and more than nine-in-ten secondary students were learning English at school in 2009-10, the most recent years with available data. Read More

Topics: Education, Europe, Language

Jul 13, 2015 12:09 pm

Where teens are finding summer jobs: More food service, less retail

more teens serving food, fewer in retail

Far fewer U.S. teens are working during the summer compared with years past, as we reported last month. But it turns out that teens who are finding work these days are more likely to be busing tables or tending a grill than staffing a mall boutique or T-shirt stand.

To get a sense of the kinds of jobs teens are working and how that’s changed, we looked at Bureau of Labor Statistics data from July 2000 through July 2014. (Pre-2000 data aren’t comparable.) One trend jumped out immediately: a dropoff in teens working retail.  Read More

Topics: Teens and Youth, Work and Employment

Jul 13, 2015 7:00 am

Some major U.S. religious groups differ from their members on the death penalty

When the Nebraska Legislature voted in May to ban the death penalty in the state – overriding the governor’s veto – supporters of the ban shared some of the credit with religious leaders who had spoken out on the issue, including several Catholic bishops. In fact, many large religious groups have taken positions in opposition to the death penalty even though that stance is sometimes at odds with the opinions of their adherents.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the death penalty is acceptable if it is “the only possible way of effectively defending human lives.” In recent years, however, both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope Francis have spoken firmly against capital punishment.

Where Religious Groups Stand on the Death PenaltyThey are not the only religious leaders to take this position; when it comes to the official teachings of large U.S. religious groups, opposition to the death penalty is more common than support for capital punishment. This is in contrast with public opinion: A majority of U.S. adults (56%) still favor the death penalty, although support has been dropping in recent years.

There also is a disparity between religious groups’ positions and the views of their adherents, particularly among mainline Protestants. Two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (66%) favor the death penalty, but several of the biggest mainline churches are against it. This includes the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the American Baptist Churches USA, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and many others. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Death Penalty, Hindus and Hinduism, Jews and Judaism, Mormons and Mormonism, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Government, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Jul 10, 2015 9:55 am

‘Mestizo’ and ‘mulatto’: Mixed-race identities among U.S. Hispanics

A Third of Hispanics Identify as Mixed RaceFor many Americans, the term “mixed race” brings to mind a biracial experience of having one parent black and another white, or perhaps one white and the other Asian.

But for many U.S. Latinos, mixed-race identity takes on a different meaning – one that is tied to Latin America’s colonial history and commonly includes having a white and indigenous, or “mestizo,” background somewhere in their ancestry.

When asked if they identify as “mestizo,” “mulatto” or some other mixed-race combination, one-third of U.S. Hispanics say they do, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey of Hispanic adults.

The term mestizo means mixed in Spanish, and is generally used throughout Latin America to describe people of mixed ancestry with a white European and an indigenous background. Similarly, the term “mulatto” – mulato in Spanish – commonly refers to a mixed-race ancestry that includes white European and black African roots.

Across Latin America, these are the two terms most commonly used to describe people of mixed-race background. For example, mestizos represent a racial majority in Mexico, most of Central America and the Andean countries of South America. Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Identity, Race and Ethnicity

Jul 10, 2015 7:00 am

How Bosnian Muslims view Christians 20 years after Srebrenica massacre

Bosnia Srebrenica War Crimes Genocide Commemoration
Family members mourn over coffins in Srebrenica on July 9. One hundred thirty-six bodies found in mass grave sites in eastern Bosnia will be reburied on 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. (Photo by Dimitar Dilkoff/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

This weekend marks 20 years since the Srebrenica massacre – the killing of 7,000-8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces in a Bosnian town that had been designated a United Nations safe haven.

The worst atrocity to take place in Europe since World War II occurred during a brutal three-year war following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. The war was fought largely along ethno-religious lines, among predominantly Orthodox Christian Serbs, Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats.

The massacre continues to stir political passions today. On Wednesday, Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have condemned the action as a “crime of genocide”; 10 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution. Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Eastern Europe, Europe, Muslims and Islam, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Russia

Jul 9, 2015 11:59 am

Where do the oldest Americans live?

Counties With the Largest, Smallest Shares of Seniors

As the oldest Baby Boomers reach retirement age and older generations live longer, more counties across America are graying. A new Pew Research Center analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2014 population estimates finds that 97% of counties saw an increase in their 65-and-older population since 2010.

On average, a U.S. county’s 65-and-older population grew by 12.4% from 2010 to 2014. (Our analysis of population change over time included only counties or county equivalents with a population of 1,000 or more adults ages 65 and older in 2014.)

And some counties are “aging” much more rapidly than others. Several counties in Colorado are among them. Douglas County, Colo., just south of Denver, led the nation with a 53.7% increase in the 65-and-older group from 2010 to 2014. Two other Colorado counties, Routt, on the Wyoming border, and Elbert, southeast of Denver, rounded out the top three, with growth rates above 50%. Read More

Topics: Demographics, Generations and Age, Population Geography

Jul 9, 2015 8:55 am

How Americans compare with the global middle class

56% of Americans Are High-Income

By some key measures, the typical American household has slipped behind economically since the beginning of the 21st century.

In 2013, the median income of U.S. households was $51,939, down substantially from $55,562 in 2001 (figures in 2013 dollars). In addition to two recessions – in 2001 and from 2007 to 2009 – longer-run trends such as globalization, the decline of unions, technological change and the rising cost of benefits such as health care are factors that limit prospects for many Americans.

But how does the well-being of the American family compare with the well-being of people in other countries? Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, World Economies