Jan 4, 2016 10:00 am

Millennials’ views of news media, religious organizations grow more negative

Millennials' ratings of news media, religious organizations declineYounger generations tend to have more-positive views than their elders of a number of institutions that play a big part in American society. But for some institutions – such as churches and the news media – Millennials’ opinions have become markedly more negative in the past five years.

Since 2010, Millennials’ rating of churches and other religious organizations has dipped 18 percentage points: 55% now say churches have a positive impact on the country compared with five years ago, when nearly three-quarters (73%) said this. Views among older generations have changed little over this time period. As a result, older generations are now more likely than Millennials – who are much less likely than their elders to be religious – to view religious organizations positively.  Read More

Topics: Business and Labor, Generations and Age, Millennials, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, Religion and Society

Dec 31, 2015 10:02 am

Your favorite Fact Tank data in 2015

When Pew Research Center started the Fact Tank data blog back in 2013, our goal was to present data that would help people better understand the news of the day. But in looking at our top blog posts of 2015, we realized that the pieces we published often made news, too. From Millennials in the workforce to religion in America, our most popular posts told important stories about trends shaping our world.

Here’s a look at some of the themes of 2015’s most popular Fact Tank posts.

1This year’s deadly attacks by radical Islamic groups sparked a hunger for information about Muslims and Islam, as evidenced by the amount of traffic reaching our posts via Web search.

Our five facts about the Muslim population in Europe answered the question: Just how large is Europe’s Muslim population, and how fast is it growing? Another post explored why Muslims are the world’s fastest-growing religious group. And our roundup of key findings about Muslims and Islam published shortly after the Paris attacks answered key questions about Muslims and the Islamic faith.

We also dug into our international polling and found that in nations we surveyed that have significant Muslim populations, there is much disdain for ISIS – but in a few countries, such as Pakistan, favorable views were not insignificant.  Read More

Topics: Education, Internet Activities, Middle Class, Millennials, Muslims and Islam, Religious Affiliation, Taxes, Unauthorized Immigration

Dec 30, 2015 12:06 pm

It’s no longer a ‘Leave It to Beaver’ world for American families – but it wasn’t back then, either

Photo credit: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
Photo credit: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

It’s less common today for American children to have a family like the ones portrayed on television in the 1950s and ’60s. One of the biggest reasons is a dramatic rise in kids living with a single parent.

How the American family has changedIn 2014, just 14% of children younger than 18 lived with a stay-at-home mother and a working father who were in their first marriage. This marks a dramatic decline from the height of the postwar baby boom, when these kinds of households were more common.

But even then, what some people hold up as the quintessential “traditional” family type was far from universal: In 1960, just half of children were living in this type of arrangement. By 1980, the share had dropped to 26%. It continued to decline until the 1990s, and has since remained fairly stable, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

One of the biggest changes has been the increase in kids living with single parents – up to 26% from 9% in 1960. An additional 7% of children today are living with two parents who are not married. This, in turn, relates to increases in divorce, as well as higher shares of births occurring outside of marriage; in 1960, 5% of births occurred to unmarried women, a share that has since increased eightfold to 40%.  Read More

Topics: Household and Family Structure, Marriage and Divorce, Population Trends, Race and Ethnicity, Work and Employment

Dec 30, 2015 7:00 am

Americans conflicted about sharing personal information with companies

A significant minority of American adults have felt confused, discouraged or impatient when trying to make decisions about sharing their personal information with companies. When asked if they felt confident they understood what would be done with their personal information as they were deciding whether or not to share it, 50% said they felt confident they understood – but 47% said they were not confident.

These new findings are from a Pew Research Center survey in early 2015 in which people were asked about their feelings as they considered sharing personal information with companies in the “last month” of when the survey was conducted.

People had different feelings on sharing personal info with companiesAs the chart illustrates, a sizable number of U.S. adults said they were confused over information provided in company privacy policies, discouraged by the amount of effort needed to understand the implications of sharing their data, and impatient because they wanted to learn more about the information-sharing process but felt they needed to make a decision right away.

These latest results add to the picture painted by several recent surveys about Americans’ views about privacy in a number of contexts.

For instance, one Pew Research Center poll found that 91% of adults “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they had lost control over how personal information was collected and used by companies. Another revealed that very few Americans felt they had a great deal of control over the data that had been collected about them and how it was used. Beyond that, the surveys showed that they had low levels of trust in the government and business sectors that they associate with data collection and monitoring; and that they had little confidence in ability of various commercial and governmental institutions to maintain the security of their personal information.

Read More

Topics: Internet Activities, Online Privacy and Safety

Dec 29, 2015 2:33 pm

Congress’ productivity improves somewhat in 2015

Congressional ProductivityFollowing two remarkably unproductive years, Congress picked up the pace in 2015. More laws were enacted this year than in the first year of any two-year congressional term since 2009, and more substantive laws were enacted than in any first-session year since 2007.

As of Dec. 29, Congress has passed 113 measures that have been signed into law, compared with 72 in 2013 and 81 in 2011, according to the Library of Congress’ THOMAS database. (A few more still await President Obama’s signature.) Of that total, we deemed 87 to be “substantive” by our deliberately generous criteria – that is, any legislation other than renaming buildings, awarding medals, commemorating historic events and other purely ceremonial actions. By contrast, the previous two Congresses managed to pass just 63 (in 2011) and 61 (in 2013) substantive laws, respectively.

Read More

Topics: Congress

Dec 28, 2015 11:59 am

Lack of broadband can be a key obstacle, especially for job seekers

Non-broadband adopters fact many challenges finding and applying for jobs onlinePeople without broadband at home can face substantial challenges navigating key life events, with difficulties looking for work or applying for a job among the most prominent. Despite a number of state and federal initiatives promoting increased broadband adoption, a significant share of U.S. adults (33%) say that they still do not subscribe to high-speed internet service.

Pew Research Center surveys have found that Americans view trouble in finding work or advancing one’s career as the most significant impediment facing those without broadband. Some 52% of Americans believe that those without broadband service at home are at a “major disadvantage” when it comes to finding out about job opportunities or gaining new career skills.

Non-broadband adopters can also face substantial challenges engaging in a number of digital job-seeking activities. For instance, 37% of non-broadband adopters indicate that it would not be easy for them to create a professional resume if they needed to do so; 30% would find it difficult to contact an employer via email, or fill out an online job application; and 27% would have a hard time finding online lists of available jobs in their area.

In each case, those with broadband access at home express a much greater comfort level accomplishing these tasks. These gaps are especially notable considering online employment resources now rival personal and professional networks as a top source of job information for Americans looking for work.

Smartphone only users rely heavily on phones for advanced job seeking tasksWhile cost is the primary barrier facing non-broadband adopters, some also say they are satisfied with the online access provided by their smartphones — 13% of Americans are now “smartphone only” (meaning they have a smartphone but lack traditional broadband service at home). And nearly one-third of these “smartphone only” users say that the main reason they don’t have broadband at home is because their smartphone can do everything they wish to do online.

Yet those who rely on mobile devices for online access face job-seeking challenges, ranging from data caps on a smartphone plan to attempting to craft a resume or apply for a job on a device that was not built for extensive text entry. One-quarter of “smartphone only” users have used a smartphone to fill out a job application online, and 13% have used a smartphone to create a resume or cover letter.

These disparities in access could become a self-perpetuating cycle for financially struggling Americans. If this group continues to give up (or not purchase) broadband service for economic reasons, they may run the risk of losing out on potential future employment opportunities simply because they don’t have access to the appropriate tools for the task.

Topics: Broadband, Internet Activities, Technology Adoption, Work and Employment

Dec 23, 2015 7:00 am

Americans are in the middle of the pack globally when it comes to importance of religion

U.S. is in the middle of pack when it comes to importance of religion in people's livesMore than half of Americans (53%) now say religion is very important in their lives, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. While this figure has declined somewhat in recent years – down from 56% in 2007 – Americans remain in the middle of the pack in terms of importance of religion when compared with people around the world.

In fact, the share of Americans who say religion is very important is close to the global median of respondents who say this in a separate survey.

By this measure, Americans place less importance on religion in their lives than do people in a number of countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. For example, nearly universal shares of Ethiopians (98%), Senegalese (97%) and Indonesians (95%) say religion is very important, as do eight-in-ten or more Nigerians (88%), Filipinos (87%) and Indians (80%).

Countries where religion is broadly seen as important have a variety of religious makeups, ranging from predominantly Christian nations like the Philippines, to mostly Muslim countries like Indonesia, to Hindu-majority India and even to some religiously mixed countries like Nigeria.

Meanwhile, religion is considerably more important to Americans than to residents of many other Western and European countries, as well as other advanced economy nations, such as Japan.

Generally, poorer nations tend to be religious; wealthy less so, except for U.S.

Overall, people in wealthier nations tend to place less importance on religion than those in poorer nations. However, the United States – the wealthiest nation included in the 2015 global survey based on gross domestic product per capita – is a notable exception to this trend. Americans are much more likely than their counterparts in other economically advanced nations to say religion is very important. About twice as many or more Americans say religion is very important in their lives compared with the share of people who say this in Australia (18%), Germany (21%) and Canada (27%), the next three wealthiest countries included in our survey.

The U.S. — which, like much of Europe, has been experiencing a rise in the share of people who say they have no religion — is also near the middle when it comes to the share of people who say religion is “not too” or “not at all” important in their lives. About one-in-five Americans (22%) say this, compared with a global median of 13%. In 14 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, few, if any, say religion is not too or not at all important in their lives. By comparison, France (61%), Japan (58%) and Australia (56%) are among several countries where majorities say religion is not too or not at all important to them.

Note: See here for topline results on importance of religion and methodology.

Topics: International Governments and Institutions, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Dec 22, 2015 7:00 am

15 striking findings from 2015

Every year, we look back at our research to select the most memorable facts that illustrate important trends shaping our world. At Pew Research Center, the topics we analyze range from the specific subjects of video gaming and family caregivers to broader areas like political attitudes, global climate change and religious affiliation.

It’s a hard task to select just 15, but here are some of our most striking findings of 2015:

1Just 19% of Americans say they can trust the federal government always or most of the time. That’s among the lowest levels in over 50 years. The long-term erosion of public trust is mirrored by a steep decline in the belief that the government is run for the benefit of all Americans.

2The American middle class is shrinking. After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the U.S. middle class is now matched in size by those in the economic tiers above and below it. A separate analysis also finds that globally, the middle class is more promise than reality. (See where you fit in the U.S. and worldwide with our interactive calculators.)

Read More

Topics: Federal Government, Generations and Age, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Income, Mexico, Middle Class, Muslims and Islam, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, News Media Trends, News Sources, Population Projections, Race and Ethnicity, Religious Affiliation, Science and Innovation, Social Media, Terrorism, Trust in Government

Dec 21, 2015 3:45 pm

Where Christian churches, other religions stand on gay marriage

The Supreme Court ruling earlier this year legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide has continued to raise questions about how the decision will affect religious groups – especially those that remain opposed to allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. The court’s ruling makes clear that clergy and religious organizations are not obliged to perform same-sex marriages, but some groups have expressed concerns about their tax-exempt status.

Where Major Religions Stand on Same-Sex MarriageMany of the largest U.S. religious institutions have remained firmly against allowing same-sex marriage, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Jewish movement and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as the Southern Baptist Convention and other evangelical Protestant denominations. The nation’s largest historically black church, the National Baptist Convention, and its biggest Pentecostal denomination, the Assemblies of God, also prohibit their clergy from marrying same-sex couples.

At the same time, in the past two decades, several other religious groups also have moved to allow same-sex couples to marry within their traditions. This includes the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.

Read More

Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Hindus and Hinduism, Jews and Judaism, Mormons and Mormonism

Dec 21, 2015 7:00 am

5 facts about Christmas in America

Wherever Americans stand on holiday-time debates about Starbucks cups, zombie nativity scenes and billboards encouraging people to skip church, it would be hard to disagree that Christmas is still a big part of many people’s lives this time of year.

Just in time for the holidays, here are five facts about Christmas in America and how people celebrate:

1About nine-in-ten Americans (92%) and nearly all Christians (96%) say they celebrate Christmas, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey. This is no surprise, but what might be more unexpected is that a big majority (81%) of non-Christians in the U.S. also celebrate Christmas. This includes 87% of people with no religion and even about three-quarters of Asian-American Buddhists (76%) and Hindus (73%). Roughly a third of U.S. Jews (32%) – many of whom have non-Jewish spouses – said in a 2013 survey that they had a Christmas tree in their homes during the most recent holiday season. Among Americans overall, about half (51%) say they celebrate Christmas as more of a religious holiday, while roughly a third (32%) say it is more of a cultural holiday to them personally. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices