Nov 17, 2015 7:00 am

How Americans are – and aren’t – making eco-friendly lifestyle changes

FT_15.11.16_climateChangeAction_householdEnergy_310Nearly three-quarters of Americans see global climate change as a “very serious” (45%) or “somewhat serious” (29%) threat, and two-thirds (66%) say people will have to make major changes in the way they live to reduce the effects of climate change, according to a Pew Research Center report released earlier this month.

People have received all sorts of advice over the past few decades about how to reduce their climate impact – from driving less to recycling more to insulating their homes. Actual changes in behavior, though, have been very much a mixed bag.

Using the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change website for suggestions on ways people can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we analyzed available data to gauge the extent to which Americans are heeding advice on living more climate-friendly lives. Among the indicators we looked at, actual changes ranged from significant to minimal to nonexistent. Here’s what we learned: Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Lifestyle

Nov 16, 2015 11:00 am

Church involvement varies widely among U.S. Christians

While most Americans still identify as Christian, there are big differences when it comes to how involved they are with a congregation – or whether they’re involved at all. Indeed, some of the largest Christian denominations in the U.S. have relatively low levels of involvement among their members.

Among all Christian religious traditions in the U.S., Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have the largest shares of members who are highly involved in their congregations, according to a new analysis of data from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study.

How Involved Are Christians in Their Congregations?Our analysis uses a scale we created drawing on the survey’s three measures of congregational involvement: membership in a congregation, frequency of attendance at worship services and frequency of attendance at small group religious activities. While these three measures don’t encompass all the potential ways people might be involved in their congregations, they represent common and broad categories of congregational engagement.

Those who are members of a congregation, attend religious services at least weekly and attend a prayer or scripture group weekly or monthly are categorized as having a “high” level of congregational involvement, while those who are not members of a congregation and who seldom or never attend religious services and small group prayer or scripture-reading groups are in the “low” category. All other respondents are categorized as having a “medium” level of congregational involvement.

Among U.S. adults who are Christian, three-in-ten have a high level of congregational involvement, while 58% have a medium level and 12% fall into the low category.

Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Mormons and Mormonism

Nov 12, 2015 12:30 pm

In China, 1980 marked a generational turning point

China's Population Today Is Less Youthful Than Under Past Regimes

The year 1980 in China is well known as the beginning of the country’s one-child policy. But what may be overlooked is how that year also marked a turning point in China’s generational experiences: Roughly half (47%) of China’s current population were born under the policy (ages 0 to 34 today), and they lived through a very different China than the half who were born before.
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Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, China, Gender, Generations and Age

Nov 11, 2015 11:08 am

Religious ‘nones’ are not only growing, they’re becoming more secular

Religious “nones” are not only growing as a share of the U.S. population, but they are becoming more secular over time by a variety of measures, a fact that also is helping to make the U.S. public overall somewhat less religious, according to surveys done as part of our Religious Landscape Study.

The “nones,” a category that includes people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular,” now make up 23% of U.S. adults, up from 16% in 2007. But there is more to the story. To begin with, this group is not uniformly nonreligious. Most of them say they believe in God, and about a third say religion is at least somewhat important in their lives. Read More

Topics: Religion and Society, Religiously Unaffiliated

Nov 11, 2015 6:50 am

Record share of young women are living with their parents, relatives

Not Leaving the Nest: Women Living With Family Returns to 1940 Level

A larger share of young women are living at home with their parents or other relatives than at any point since the 1940s.

A new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that 36.4% of women ages 18 to 34 resided with family in 2014, mainly in the home of mom, dad or both. The result is a striking U-shaped curve for young women – and young men – indicating a return to the past, statistically speaking.

You’d have to go back 74 years to observe similar living arrangements among American young women. Young men, too, are increasingly living in the same situation, but unlike women their share hasn’t climbed to its level from 1940, the highest year on record. (Comparable data on living arrangements are not available from before then.)

Read More

Topics: Educational Attainment, Gender, Household and Family Structure, Marriage and Divorce

Nov 10, 2015 11:15 am

5 facts about Republicans

Presidential candidates take the stage at the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorados Coors Events Center October 28, 2015 in Boulder, Colorado. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Presidential candidates take the stage at the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorado’s Coors Events Center on Oct. 28. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The state of Republicans and their party has been very much in focus this year, with a large field of presidential candidates battling it out in a series of debates and continuing divides among Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill that led to a change in their leadership.

Here are some key points about Republicans from our polling and other surveys:

1Republicans More Satisfied With Their Field Than in 2007 or 2011Republican voters give the current field of presidential candidates higher ratings than at comparable times in the past two nomination contests. Nearly six-in-ten Republican and Republican-leaning voters (59%) say they have an excellent or good impression of their party’s hopefuls, according to a September survey. In August 2011, half (49%) of Republican voters viewed the GOP presidential field positively; in October 2007, it was similar (50%).

2A majority of Republicans want a candidate with “new ideas” rather than experience and a proven record. About two-thirds (65%) of GOP voters held this view when asked in September. This number surged since March, when 36% said having new ideas was more important, compared with 57% who preferred an experienced candidate. The data suggest that Republicans are more open to a candidate who’s new to politics. A mid-October Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 57% of Republican primary voters are enthusiastic about or comfortable with a person who is not a politician. That poll found the opposite to be true among non-Republican primary voters – 76% have reservations or are uncomfortable with a lack of experience. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Political Issue Priorities, Political Party Affiliation, U.S. Political Parties

Nov 10, 2015 10:00 am

Key takeaways on mobile apps and privacy

As smartphone adoption continues to climb in the U.S., mobile applications, or apps, are becoming increasingly important tools that offer access to everything from news and social networking sites to online banking and maps. But even free apps can involve potential tradeoffs when it comes to permitting access to personal devices and information.

A new Pew Research Center report examines more than 1 million apps available in the Google Play Store from June to September 2014 and explores the wide range of permissions that Android apps require as a condition of use. (In the Android operating system, “permissions” are what app developers use to inform users about how the app will interact with the device and personal information.)

Additionally, Pew Research surveyed Americans about their privacy concerns relating to apps and found many are cautious when it comes to how apps use their personal data.

Our analysis of permissions focused on Android apps, which are not representative of all apps on all platforms. We used Android apps for the study because data for them are more readily available to the public.

Here are five takeaways from the report:

16-in-10 Smartphone App Users Have Chosen Not to Install an App Because of Concerns About Personal InformationAmong all smartphone app users, six-in-ten downloaders have chosen not to install an app when they discovered how much personal information the app required in order to use it. Separately, 43% have uninstalled an app for the same reason after initially downloading it.

2Among all smartphone owners who have downloaded apps before, a majority cited concerns about how their personal data are used as a reason why they would or would not download an app. Nine-in-ten app downloaders say that having clear information about how their data will be used is “very” or “somewhat” important when choosing whether or not to download an app. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Mobile

Nov 10, 2015 7:00 am

Most Americans believe in heaven … and hell

It’s natural for people to want things to turn out well in the end, both in life and, apparently, afterwards. Roughly seven-in-ten (72%) Americans say they believe in heaven — defined as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded,” according to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study.

But at the same time, 58% of U.S. adults also believe in hell — a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”

Belief in Heaven and Hell Among U.S. Adults, 2014These percentages are little changed from 2007, when Pew Research Center’s first Religious Landscape Study found that 74% of Americans believed in heaven, and 59% believed in hell.

Among religiously affiliated Americans, the belief that there is a heaven is even more widespread, with 82% holding this view, about the same as in 2007. Belief in hell has held relatively steady in this group.

Compared with non-Christians and the unaffiliated, U.S. Christians are more likely to believe in both afterlife destinations. The existence of heaven is almost universally accepted by Mormons (95%) and members of historically black Protestant denominations (93%), as well as by about eight-in-ten or more evangelical Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and mainline Protestants.

Meanwhile, 82% of evangelical Protestants and members of historically black Protestant churches say they believe in hell. Somewhat fewer Catholics, Mormons, mainline Protestants and Orthodox Christians also hold this view. Read More

Topics: Death and Dying, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Nov 9, 2015 11:45 am

As American homes get bigger, energy efficiency gains are wiped out

U.S. Homes More Energy-Efficient, But They Are Now Larger, TooU.S. homes have become considerably more energy-efficient over the past four decades, according to government data. But homes also are a lot bigger than they used to be, and their growing girth wipes out nearly all the efficiency gains.

According to preliminary figures from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the average U.S. home used 101,800 British thermal units (Btu) of energy per square foot in 2012, the most recent year with available data. That’s 31% less than in 1970, after adjusting for weather effects and efficiency improvements in electricity generation.

And while the total number of housing units rose by 80% over the past four decades, collectively they used just 45% more Btu than in 1970. (The government uses Btu – the amount of heat needed to raise a pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit – as a single common measure for electricity, heating fuel and other forms of household energy.)

All of this is good news for energy conservation. After all, a new Pew Research Center survey found that two-thirds of Americans say people will have to make major changes in the way they live to reduce the effects of global climate change. And many such changes can be made right at home.

But like Americans’ waistlines, U.S. homes have been expanding steadily over the years: The average home in 2012 was estimated at 1,864 square feet, 28% bigger than in 1970.

Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Lifestyle

Nov 9, 2015 7:00 am

Majority of Americans say scientists don’t have an ideological slant

Most Americans say they think of scientists as neither politically liberal nor conservative, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Overall, Most Americans View Scientists as Neither Liberal Nor ConservativeThe sharp political divide between Republicans and Democrats on issues such as climate change raises the question of whether a wide range of Americans’ attitudes about science – and scientists – are viewed through a political lens.

Our survey of 2,002 adults nationwide, conducted in August 2014, suggests that’s not the case.

Some 64% of Americans perceive scientists as neither liberal nor conservative. Another 24% of adults think scientists are politically liberal and 7% say scientists are politically conservative. While the perception of scientists as politically liberal outnumbers the share saying scientists are conservative, these perceptions are roughly the same as in a 2009 Pew Research survey. Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Science and Innovation