Mar 31, 2014 4:43 pm

Many around the world see climate change as a major threat

A report issued yesterday by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the planet is already suffering significantly from the effects of climate change and that the threat will only grow more serious in the years ahead —the kind of warning that people in many nations say they take seriously.

Global climate change was the top-rated threat in a 39-nation Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2013. A median of 54% across these countries said global climate change was a major threat to their country, slightly more than the 52% who said this about international financial instability. High levels of concern were also expressed about Islamic extremist groups, as well as the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs.  Overall, American power and influence, Chinese power and influence, and Pakistani instability generated fewer worries.

Climate change rated top global threat

Compared with others around the world, Americans are less concerned about climate change – just 40% rate it a major threat. However, there are sharp partisan differences on this issue. A 55%-majority of Democrats consider climate change a major threat, compared with just 42% of independents and 22% of Republicans.

Concerns about climate change are also relatively low in China, which has surpassed the U.S. to  become the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. Just 39% of Chinese say climate change is a major threat to their country. 

Topics: Energy and Environment

Mar 31, 2014 11:21 am

Data Feed: New climate change report, survey of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, the 1% versus the 0.01%

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Va. voters back medical marijuana; 50% support same-sex marriage, Quinnipiac
Analysis: Midterms pose formidable challenge for Democrats, Pew Research via WSJ

Consumer confidence in March survives harsh winter, University of Michigan
Inequality within the ranks of the 1%, The Atlantic
260K college, professional grads earned minimum wage or less in 2013, CNN Money
Texas, North Dakota, California top oil-producing states, EIA
Startups in central cities, walkable suburbs get most venture capital, Atlantic Cities
Pay increases for academic professionals outpace inflation, Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 31, 2014 11:00 am

Key findings about India ahead of its national election

On the eve of their parliamentary election, a new poll finds Indians are disgruntled about the state of their nation, deeply worried about a range of problems facing their society and supportive of new leadership in New Delhi. However, they remain fairly upbeat about the economic prospects for both India and the next generation.

Notwithstanding recent high-profile official frictions with the United States, the Indian public has a generally positive view of America. Meanwhile, Indians are divided in their opinions about the world’s rising superpower: China. And they remain deeply wary of Pakistan, although they would like to see Indo-Pakistani relations improve. Here are five key findings from the Pew Research Center’s recent survey of the Indian public’s mood in the run up to the April 7 election:

Rural Indians favor BJPRural Indians prefer the BJP, despite Congress’ long ties to the rural poor. The Congress party has long drawn much of its support from rural Indians and has pursued policies to solidify that backing, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the National Food Security program, both of which Indians overwhelmingly favor. Nevertheless, rural Indians favor the BJP, not Congress, to lead the next government by more than three-to-one (64% to 18%), roughly the same proportion as favor the BJP in urban areas. Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, World Elections

Mar 31, 2014 10:36 am

When’s that Obamacare deadline? Like it or not, it’s today

Although the Obama administration last week extended the deadline for enrolling in a health coverage plan for those who had started but not completed the process, today is the last day for many of the uninsured to either sign up or face penalties when they pay their federal taxes next year.

The health insurance mandate remains by far the best-known part of the law — 78% of the public is aware of it. And it is the most disliked with only 35% of Americans having a favorable view of the provision (64% unfavorable), according to a Kaiser Health Tracking poll conducted in mid-March. The unpopularity of the mandate far outdistances public disapproval of the overall law itself (46% disapprove, 38% approve).

As of mid-March, the Kaiser survey found that many of the uninsured were unaware of today’s deadline, although most did know that the law imposed penalties for those who failed to obtain insurance.

Even before the deadline extension was announced, there was an array of exemptions for hardships and other reasons.

But the survey also found, that four years after its passage, many uninsured Americans, as well as those who do have coverage, still are unaware of some of its important provisions, or harbor misconceptions about what the law does.  Read More

Topics: Health Care

Mar 28, 2014 1:55 pm

Chart of the Week: The increasing number of executions around the world

executions_worldAlthough capital punishment is practiced in only a relative handful of countries (140 countries have abolished it in law or in practice, according to Amnesty International), there were nearly 100 more executions around the world last year than in 2012, a 14% increase. The chart above, created by The Economist based on Amnesty’s data, graphically shows that just a few countries are responsible for most executions.

At least 778 executions took place last year in 22 countries, up from 682 in 2012, according to Amnesty. Several countries, including Kuwait, Nigeria, Indonesia and Vietnam resumed use of the death penalty after several years without any executions.

But as the organization admits, that figure captures only a minority of all executions. Some human rights organizations believe that China executes thousands of people a year, but reliable data is difficult to obtain. Officials in Iran acknowledged 369 executions last year, Amnesty said, but “[c]redible sources pointed to many hundreds more taking place in secret, bringing the total to more than 700.” There were no estimates for Egypt or Syria.

Taking third place was Iraq, where “at least” 169 people were put to death, almost one-third more than in 2012. Saudi Arabia executed 79 people last year, followed by the U.S. (39) and Somalia (34). In the U.S., the number of executions has fallen in recent years, as violent crime has dropped and a growing number of prisoners have been exonerated based on factors such as DNA evidence. The percentage of Americans who support the death penalty for murder has fallen to 55%, a low not seen in decades.

Category: Chart of the Week

Mar 28, 2014 11:02 am

Data Feed: Global migration patterns, divorce among Baby Boomers, pope popularity

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Shrinking majority of Americans support death penalty, Pew Research Center
Death penalty executions in each state since 1977, Pew Research Center
Young Americans’ affinity for Democratic party has grown, Gallup
Voters oppose Obamacare, see worsening job situationtopline, Fox News
Obama health law fails to gain supporttopline, AP/GfK
Older Americans more likely to say a Cold War is returning, Gallup
Analysis: What’s behind public’s negative views for Obama on Ukraine? CBS News
Analysis: How question order skewed pre-election polls in N.J., Langer/Rutgers-Eagleton

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 28, 2014 10:15 am

Lower support for death penalty tracks with falling crime rates, more exonerations

Violent crime in the United StatesThe U.S. has long stood out for its support of capital punishment. For most of the past eight decades — basically the entire history of scientific polling — surveys have nearly always found solid majorities in favor of the death penalty. But that support has ebbed and flowed, and now has been trending lower for almost two decades. A new Pew Research Center analysis finds 55% of U.S. adults favoring the death penalty for people convicted of murder, the lowest support level since the early 1970s.

Researchers have suggested several reasons for the decline in death-penalty support since the mid-1990s. Among them: a steep drop in the incidence of violent crime, and greater attention to wrongful convictions, which has led to more than 1,300 convicts being exonerated through DNA evidence, revelations of faulty forensic work, or other means. (Recent reports of prolonged executions and the difficulties many states have had in procuring drugs for lethal injections also may be factors in shifting public opinion.) Read More

Topics: Criminal Justice, Death Penalty

Mar 28, 2014 7:00 am

The world gives Saudi Arabia poor marks on freedoms

Saudi Arabia and Personal FreedomsAs he heads to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah, President Obama is receiving an earful about the kingdom’s human rights record. Earlier this week, 70 members of Congress signed a letter urging Obama to confront Saudi leaders about human rights abuses, including “violations targeting women, religious minorities and peaceful political reformers.” NGOs are also pressing him to make human rights a key topic on his Riyadh trip, and Amnesty International has called on Obama to select a female Secret Service officer as his driver in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world that bans women from driving.

The American public also gives the kingdom poor marks for how it treats its citizens. Roughly seven-in-ten (72%) said the government of Saudi Arabia does not respect the personal freedoms of its people, up slightly from 64% in 2008. Only 11% said it does respect personal liberty, essentially unchanged from the 13% registered five years prior.

And Americans are hardly alone in this view – across 39 nations surveyed by the Pew Research Center in 2013, a median of just 18% said the Saudi government respects individual rights. In contrast, a median of 70% said the United States government respects the personal freedoms of its people (note that the survey was conducted prior to revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs). Ratings for the Chinese government were not especially high (a median of 36%), but were still more positive than those for Saudi Arabia. Only Iran received an overall lower score (a median of 11%).

Still, a few countries do give the Saudi regime relatively high marks: In Pakistan, Senegal, Jordan, Egypt, Nigeria and Indonesia, at least half believed the Riyadh government respects personal freedoms. All of these have populations that are over 85% Muslim, with the exception of Nigeria, which is almost evenly split between Muslims and Christians.

In several other majority Muslim nations, however, Saudi Arabia received poor ratings. On balance, Turks, Palestinians and Tunisians said the kingdom does not respect personal liberties. And in Lebanon, 71% held this opinion, although views differed among the country’s Sunni (49%), Shia (84%) and Christian (80%) communities.

Topics: Middle East and North Africa

Mar 27, 2014 11:49 am

Data Feed: Ukraine crisis hurting Obama, population boom in Great Plains, health in U.S. counties

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Support for Obama, health care law has eroded among Hispanics, Pew Research Center
Ukraine crisis is hurting Obama at hometopline, AP/GfK
Record 68% of Americans view Russia as unfriendly or an enemy, Gallup
76% of Americans see pope in favorable light, Gallup
Americans OK with pot being sold in their town, less so in their neighborhood, CNBC
California poll shows bipartisan support for immigration reform, PPIC
Virginia voters favor Warner and Clinton despite negative Obama views, Quinnipiac
Study: Easy registration motivates voters, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Energy boom fuels rapid population growth in parts of Great Plains, Census Bureau
Rural America struggles as young people chase jobs in cities, Brookings, Census via WSJ
CEO pay rising, but not for all, The Wall Street Journal
Americans still bummed about economy, despite gains, CNBC
Fewest Americans earning minimum wage since 2008, BLS via WSJ
GDP increased at annual rate of 2.6% in 4Q 2013 (3rd estimate), BEA

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 27, 2014 9:00 am

Support for Obama, health care law has eroded among Hispanics

Support of President Obama and his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, has declined among Hispanics over the past six months, even though the popularity of both is nearly unchanged among the public overall, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data.Hispanic support for affordable care act Obamacare has declined

Today, as many Hispanics approve as disapprove (47%-47%) of the new health care law. That’s down markedly compared with the 61% approval just six months ago.

During the same time period, Obama’s job approval rating has slipped 15 points among Hispanics. About half of Hispanics (48%) approve of Obama’s job performance today, down from 63% in September 2013. (Among the general public today, 44% approve of Obama and 41% approve of the new law, neither significantly changed from September.)Hispanics' Support for Obama has declined

Since the troubled launch of the online health care exchange on Oct. 1, news coverage has noted low Hispanic enrollment and included criticism that the Spanish-language version of the website contained poor translations. Others have disputed that claim, arguing a major hurdle in enrolling more Hispanics in health insurance has been that many don’t understand the law. Another cause of low enrollment may be fear of federal authorities among U.S. citizens and residents with family members who are unauthorized immigrants.  Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Health Care, Hispanic/Latino Vote