May 14, 2015 7:00 am

Dim public awareness of Supreme Court as major rulings loom

SPOILER ALERT: This post is based in part on Pew Research Center’s latest News IQ Quiz. If you haven’t taken the quiz yet, you might want to do so now before reading on.

Supreme Court's Members Are Little-KnownIn the next few weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue rulings that could potentially affect same-sex marriage, health care and capital punishment in the United States.

Yet it remains an institution whose members – and even the facts about some of its most important decisions – are a mystery to many Americans.

In Pew Research Center’s most recent knowledge quiz, just 33% knew that there are three women on the Supreme Court – Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. A higher percentage (39%) said that there are two women on the high court, while 14% said there is one and 4% said four.

It was by far the lowest correct response percentage for any of the 12 questions in the quiz. But lack of awareness about the Supreme Court’s members is nothing new. In fact, Americans have fared no better when asked other questions about the court’s members in recent years. Read More

Topics: Public Knowledge, Supreme Court

May 13, 2015 7:00 am

A closer look at America’s rapidly growing religious ‘nones’

Religiously unaffiliated people have been growing as a share of all Americans for some time. Pew Research Center’s massive 2014 Religious Landscape Study makes clear just how quickly this is happening, and also shows that the trend is occurring within a variety of demographic groups – across genders, generations and racial and ethnic groups, to name a few.

Religiously UnaffiliatedReligious “nones” – a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” – now make up roughly 23% of the U.S. adult population. This is a stark increase from 2007, the last time a similar Pew Research study was conducted, when 16% of Americans were “nones.” (During this same time period, Christians have fallen from 78% to 71%.)

Overall, religiously unaffiliated people are more concentrated among young adults than other age groups – 35% of Millennials (those born 1981-1996) are “nones.” In addition, the unaffiliated as a whole are getting even younger. The median age of unaffiliated adults is now 36, down from 38 in 2007 and significantly younger than the overall median age of U.S. adults in 2014 (46). Read More

Topics: Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

May 12, 2015 12:45 pm

Millennials increasingly are driving growth of ‘nones’

Generational Replacement and the Rise of the Unaffiliated

For years, surveys have indicated that members of the youngest generation of adults in the U.S. are far less likely than older Americans to identify with a religious group. But a major new Pew Research Center survey finds that, as time goes on, the already-large share of religiously unaffiliated Millennial adults is increasing significantly.

A high percentage of younger members of the Millennial generation – those who have entered adulthood in just the last several years – are religious “nones” (saying they are atheists or agnostics, or that their religion is “nothing in particular”). At the same time, an increasing share of older Millennials also identify as “nones,” with more members of that group rejecting religious labels in recent years. Read More

Topics: Generations and Age, Millennials, Religious Affiliation, Religiously Unaffiliated

May 12, 2015 7:00 am

5 key findings about the changing U.S. religious landscape

Pew Research Center’s new Religious Landscape Study, the first since our 2007 study, draws on a massive sample size of more than 35,000 Americans to offer a detailed look at the current religious composition of U.S. adults. The size of the sample enables us to explore relatively small religious groups (including specific Christian denominations) as well as state- and metropolitan area-level data.

In addition to the full report, the findings of the study can be explored at a new interactive website. Here are a few of the key findings: Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Hindus and Hinduism, Muslim Americans, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

May 11, 2015 1:57 pm

Census Bureau decides to keep marriage questions on survey

American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau
(American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau)

Under pressure from academics and advocates, the U.S. Census Bureau has abandoned plans to delete a series of questions about marriage and divorce from its largest household survey. The agency also is toning down the tactics it uses to encourage people to answer the survey because of complaints that it is too aggressive.

The bureau had proposed eliminating questions from the American Community Survey that asked respondents whether they have been married, widowed or divorced within the past year. Also proposed for removal were questions on how many times a person has been married and when he or she last got married, which can be used to measure marital stability. Agency officials announced their about-face on the marriage questions, in part because of criticism from researchers, in a Federal Register notice published last month. Read More

Topics: Federal Government, Marriage and Divorce, U.S. Census

May 11, 2015 11:59 am

Americans and Germans differ on approach to Russia

Not since the end of the Cold War has Russia loomed so large in German-American relations, due in large part to recent developments in Ukraine. Germany’s geographic proximity and economic ties to Russia give Berlin and Washington different stakes in the current confrontation with Moscow.

Majority of Germans Prefer Strong Ties with U.S.According to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in association with the Bertelsmann Foundation, a majority of Germans (57%) believe it is more important for Germany to have strong ties with the United States than with Russia. Just 15% prefer strong ties with Russia, and another 21% volunteer that it is best to have an equally close relationship with both.

However, the legacy of World War II lives on in public opinion: East and West Germans differ on how they view ties with the U.S. While 61% of Germans living in the West prefer a strong affiliation with America, just 44% of people living in the East agree. And while 23% of people in the East voice support for strong ties with Russia, only 12% of those in the West agree. Read More

Topics: Global Balance of Power, International Governments and Institutions, International Threats and Allies, Russia, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism, World Economies

May 11, 2015 10:05 am

Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force

U.S. Labor Force by Generation, 1995-2015

More than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015), and this year they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Read More

Topics: Generations and Age, Millennials, Work and Employment

May 8, 2015 12:47 pm

For young Americans, unemployment returns to pre-recession levels

Young People Make Large Share of Unemployed

At 5.4%, April’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was the lowest it’s been in seven years, though essentially unchanged from March, according to Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a 4.6-percentage-point drop since October 2009, when it peaked at 10%. No doubt, this trend should be good news for job seekers.

But if you’re a teenager or young adult, you’re much less likely to have seen significant job market improvement compared with older adults. Our analysis of the latest employment data finds that last month, more than half (50.9%) of the nation’s nearly 8 million unemployed people are between the ages of 16 and 34 – even though that group makes up just over a third of the civilian labor force. Read More

Topics: Economic Recession, Generations and Age, National Economy, Work and Employment

May 8, 2015 7:00 am

Americans’ ideal family size is smaller than it used to be

Half of Americans Say Two Children is the Ideal

Half of Americans (48%) say two is the ideal number of children for a family to have, reflecting a decades-long preference for a smaller family over a larger one.

But that hasn’t always been the case, according to Gallup. In 1971, there was a shift in attitudes, as Americans’ “ideal” family switched from four kids (19%) to two kids (38%), with a mean saying 2.9 kids was ideal. Back in 1936, the mean ideal number of kids was 3.6, with 22% saying four children; 32% saying three children; and another 32% saying two children. Fast-forward from the 1930s to 2013, the most recent data available, and you get a different picture, with 2.6 as the mean ideal. Read More

Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, Education, Family and Relationships, Family Roles, Household and Family Structure, Social Values

May 7, 2015 2:02 pm

On UK elections, the talk on Twitter is largely negative

Today, United Kingdom residents head to the polls in a very close race in which the U.K.’s power players will be determined, with smaller parties expected to make big gains.

Most Parties in the UK Receive Negative Twitter ViewsBut what, if anything, about the election could be gleaned from Twitter? A new Pew Research Center analysis of the months leading up to election day finds that four of the six parties received more negative commentary than positive. Just one party studied – the Greens – enjoyed mostly positive comments, according to an analysis of more than 13 million English-language tweets between March 30 and May 3. The balance of sentiment only changed slightly in the final full week leading up to the election.

Both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, which have dominated the political scene for over a century, are competing to secure the majority in the House of Commons. But smaller parties that have gained public support are also likely to gain seats.

Read More

Topics: Europe, Internet Activities, Social Media, World Elections