Mar 30, 2015 2:02 pm

Among developed nations, Americans’ tax bills are below average

US Americans pay less in taxes than Europeans
With the April 15 tax-filing deadline rapidly approaching, some U.S. taxpayers may be thinking a lot about just how much they are forking over to (or getting from) Uncle Sam. A Pew Research Center report earlier this month concluded that the public sees the nation’s tax system as deeply flawed: 59% of people surveyed agreed that “there is so much wrong with the federal tax system that Congress should completely change it,” while just 38% said the system “works pretty well” and requires “only minor changes.” Read More

Topics: Taxes

Mar 30, 2015 12:14 pm

Americans split over whether businesses must serve same-sex couples

Businesses, Same-Sex CouplesA new Indiana religious freedom law has sparked national debate since Gov. Mike Pence signed it last week. While its supporters say it strengthens protection of religious liberty, critics have argued that it could provide legal cover for businesses to discriminate, such as a florist or caterer who may not want to provide services for a same-sex wedding because of religious objections.

Several such cases already have been making their way through the courts, including one involving a bakery in Oregon. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from New Mexico photographers who were found guilty of discrimination after refusing to shoot a commitment ceremony for two women. Read More

Topics: Church-State Law, Economic and Business News, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Mar 27, 2015 7:00 am

How citizens and investigative journalists handle privacy protection

The American public has had a muted response when it comes to concerns about possible government monitoring of their digital behavior, and many have not yet adopted – or are even aware of – many of the tools available to protect their online privacy and security, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

But it is a different story for a group like investigative journalists, whose work makes them potential targets for monitoring.

Some Investigative Journalists Have Increased  Privacy and Security; Many Were Already Taking PrecautionsIn our survey of U.S. members of Investigative Reporters & Editors, most of the investigative journalists assume that they are being monitored because of the nature of their work: 64% believe that the government probably collected their communications data.

And many have long since adopted various privacy and security measures. Most notably, 76% of the investigative journalists said they had been using a variety of passwords for more than a year, and 58% had been using enhanced privacy settings on social networking sites. Read More

Topics: Digital Media, News Media Ethics and Practices, Online Privacy and Safety, Surveillance

Mar 26, 2015 7:00 am

The challenges of using Facebook for research

When Pew Research Center studied how Americans access and share local news in three cities, we naturally wanted to analyze the role that Facebook played as a means for people to hear about, discuss and share local news. But getting the data we needed proved challenging.

Facebook Activity by CityWhile seven-in-ten online American adults are on Facebook, most do not make the information they share fully public. Facebook allows users to adjust their privacy settings in a number of different ways, which, for researchers, means it’s harder to study the platform holistically.

We decided to focus on the information we could gather on public Facebook pages. But the question then became how to round up relevant public data from Facebook in these cities. Read More

Topics: Local News, Research Methods, Social Media

Mar 25, 2015 1:33 pm

How the U.S. compares with the rest of the world on religious restrictions

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids laws establishing religion or impeding the free exercise of religion. But that doesn’t mean governments in the U.S. – whether federal, state or local – do not place any restrictions on religious activity.

Indeed, according to a recent Pew Research Center study – the sixth annual report in a series – the U.S. has moderate levels of both restrictions on religion and social hostilities toward religious groups, ranking somewhere in the middle range of the nearly 200 countries analyzed in the report.

Read More

Topics: Restrictions on Religion

Mar 24, 2015 12:05 pm

6 facts about public opinion in Nigeria before election day

A long-delayed election will be taking place in Nigeria this weekend, as the original date was put off due to security concerns relating to the continued fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress opposition party, who briefly ruled the country in the 1980s after a military coup, will attempt to defeat incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, of the People’s Democratic Party.

In recent months, Boko Haram has stepped up its campaign in Nigeria’s northeast, and violence has spread to neighboring countries. Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and is a major oil producer, so in its most important election since democratic rule was restored in 1999, the world will anxiously await the results.

With so much on the line, here’s what Nigerians had to say about the state of their country when we surveyed them in spring 2014:

1Nigerians detest Boko Haram. Overall, 82% of Nigerians have an unfavorable view of Boko Haram, with 79% holding a very unfavorable view. This distaste is shared by Christians and Muslims alike (Nigeria is about half Christian and half Muslim, according to the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project). Read More

Topics: International Governments and Institutions, Sub-Saharan Africa, Terrorism, World Elections

Mar 24, 2015 10:00 am

High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’?

Corporations paying fewer taxesAmericans don’t much like the federal tax system, a recent Pew Research Center report finds. But it’s not, as you might imagine, because they think they pay too much. Rather, they think people other than themselves don’t pay their fair share.

Some six-in-ten Americans in the Pew Research survey said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that “some wealthy people” and “some corporations” don’t pay their fair share. Only 27% cited their own tax bills as something that bothered them a lot, even though 40% thought they paid more than their fair share given what they get from the federal government. Read More

Topics: Economic Policy, Taxes

Mar 24, 2015 7:00 am

A majority of English-speaking Hispanics in the U.S. are bilingual

About six-in-ten U.S. adult Hispanics (62%) speak English or are bilingual, according to an analysis of the Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos. Hispanics in the United States break down into three groups when it comes to their use of language: 36% are bilingual, 25% mainly use English and 38% mainly use Spanish. Among those who speak English, 59% are bilingual.

Majority of U.S. Latinos Use English or are BilingualLatino adults who are the children of immigrant parents are most likely to be bilingual. Among this group, 50% are bilingual, according to our 2013 survey. As of 2012, Latinos with immigrant parents (defined as those born outside the U.S. or those born in Puerto Rico) made up roughly half (48%) of all U.S.-born Hispanics. By comparison, a third (35%) of Hispanic immigrants are bilingual, as are a quarter (23%) of those with U.S.-born parents.

Widespread bilingualism has the potential to affect future generations of Latinos, a population that is among the fastest growing in the nation. Our 2011 survey showed that Latino adults valued both the ability to speak English and to speak Spanish. Fully 87% said Latino immigrants need to learn English to succeed. At the same time, nearly all (95%) said it is important for future generations of U.S. Hispanics to speak Spanish. Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Language

Mar 23, 2015 7:00 am

On Twitter, local news is hard to find

As Americans increasingly use social media, researchers naturally are interested in how the data from it can be used to better understand how users share and discuss information on these new platforms. The mass of tweets, ranging from political commentary to overall “sentiment” about companies, products or services, has many marketing firms and academics clamoring for insights into Twitter’s collective stream of consciousness.

But how accurate is Twitter as a measure of public sentiment and how can it be used? At Pew Research Center, we’ve been specifically interested in experimenting with Twitter’s role in the news since 2008. So when we launched a yearlong project examining local news in three cities last year, we tested several approaches using Twitter data to understand how it serves as a source of news and enables local residents to become participants in it.

Our verdict? While Twitter analysis is still at an experimental stage and Twitter data has limitations, it can be a valuable new tool to understand the media environment. More specifically, we found it valuable to understand how news organizations use Twitter. However, local news is just one small topic of many discussed on the platform. What we found lacking was trying to glean any data about Twitter users by location.

Here’s a rundown of what worked and what didn’t in using Twitter for research. Read More

Topics: Local News, News Sources, Research Methods, Social Media

Mar 20, 2015 9:28 am

Case study: More residents see local news quality as better than worse

Longtime Residents More Likely to See Their Local News as Better than Worse When Pew Research Center conducted case studies of local news environments in three U.S. cities, one question was whether residents thought the news had changed in recent years and how digital news habits played in that perception.

For the news business, there was a good headline: More longtime residents – those who have lived in their city for at least five years – say that the quality of their city’s local news has gotten better than say it has gotten worse. And more think keeping up with local news has gotten easier than harder. It should be noted, though, that about half of longtime residents in the three cities – Denver, Macon, Ga., and Sioux City, Iowa – think their local news is about the same for both quality and ease of access.

About four-in-ten longtime residents in Sioux City (40%) and Macon (38%) and about three-in-ten in Denver (29%) say that the quality of local news has gotten better; only a small minority in each city says that it has gotten worse. The same pattern holds for thinking that keeping up with local news is easier; roughly four-in-ten longtime residents in each city say this. Read More

Topics: Local News, News Sources, Social Media