Mar 19, 2018 12:30 pm

Share of married adults varies widely across U.S. religious groups

Members of a wedding party pose after a Mormon ceremony at Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City. (Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Members of a wedding party pose after a Mormon ceremony at Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City. (Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Throughout U.S. history, marriage has been tied to religion and religious institutions. Today, virtually all faith traditions have rules and ceremonies regarding marriage and, in the United States as well as in many other countries, clergy of different religious groups are authorized by the government to perform weddings.

In the U.S., roughly half of all American adults (48%) say they are married, according to the 2014 Religious Landscape Study. Much smaller shares of U.S. adults say they are living with a partner (7%), are divorced or separated (13%), or are widowed (7%). A quarter of Americans say they’ve never been married.

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Topics: Religious Affiliation, Marriage and Divorce

Mar 19, 2018 6:57 am

The Iraq War continues to divide the U.S. public, 15 years after it began

Marines run back to the Al-Hadra Mosque in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004 after sniper fire slowed their advance. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
U.S. Marines run back to the Al-Hadra Mosque in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004 after sniper fire slowed their advance. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Fifteen years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the American public is divided over whether using military force was the right decision.

Nearly half (48%) of Americans say the decision to use military force was wrong, while slightly fewer (43%) say it was the right decision, according to a Pew Research Center survey, conducted March 7-14 among 1,466 adults. Current opinions about the war in Iraq are little different than in early 2014, when 50% said the decision to use force was wrong and 38% said it was right.

Support for the decision to use military force in Iraq had declined considerably over the course of the war and its aftermath. In late March 2003, a few days after the U.S. invasion, 71% supported the decision to use military force, while just 22% said it was the wrong decision.

Just a year later, the share saying the war in Iraq was the right decision fell to 55%. By the beginning of 2005, opinion about the use of U.S. force was divided (47% right, 47% wrong). Two years later, public opinion about the war had “turned decidedly negative.”

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Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy, Middle East and North Africa, Wars and International Conflicts

Mar 16, 2018 12:00 pm

What Google searches can tell us about Americans’ interest in guns

In two studies last spring, Pew Research Center examined patterns in Google searches, first to track public interest in the Flint, Michigan, water crisis and later to learn more about refugee migration patterns in Europe.

A new analysis uses a similar methodology to look at Americans’ interest in guns. We analyzed long-term trends in U.S. Google keyword searches for 416 specific gun model names, compiled from two sources: GunBroker.com, an online gun auction website, and the American Firearms Institute, a gun rights advocacy website that provides information about firearms. While not exhaustive, the list includes many popular handguns and rifles.

By focusing on the models of guns Americans are searching for, we sought to learn more about the public’s interest in guns as potential consumer products, rather than as a subject of general interest. This analysis builds on a 2017 Pew Research Center survey that found that about four-in-ten Americans live in a gun-owning household.

Of course, it’s impossible to know why people might search for a particular gun on Google – just because someone is searching for a firearm online does not mean they plan to buy it. But the analysis finds a striking correlation between Google search trends and a commonly used measure of U.S. gun sales: the number of background checks, which the FBI conducts once a gun sale is initiated. (Federal law prohibits recording gun sales in a national database.)

Here are four key findings from the analysis.

1Google search activity for specific gun models tends to rise and fall in a similar pattern to the number of background checks conducted by the FBI. When we examined monthly, nationwide Google searches for the gun models on our list between February 2012 and February 2018, as well as the adjusted number of gun background checks the FBI carried out each month during this period, we found a strong correlation between the two. This finding aligns with other research that has found that Google search activity tends to track real-world economic indicators closely. A 2017 paper published in the journal Science also found that the search term “buy gun” is strongly correlated with background checks.

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Topics: Online Search, Internet Activities, Social Values

Mar 16, 2018 11:00 am

How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago

Female "human computers" perform calculations at Langley Research Center, 1955; a day in the office at Velocity Global, 2018. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images, left; Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Female “human computers” perform calculations at Langley Research Center, 1955; a day in the office at Velocity Global, 2018. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images, left; Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The past five decades – spanning from the time when the Silent Generation (today, in their 70s and 80s) was entering adulthood to the adulthood of today’s Millennials – have seen large shifts in U.S. society and culture. It has been a period during which Americans, especially Millennials, have become more detached from major institutions such as political parties, religion, the military and marriage. At the same time, the racial and ethnic make-up of the country has changed, college attainment has spiked and women have greatly increased their participation in the nation’s workforce.

Our new interactive graphic compares the generations today and in the years that each generation was young (ages 21 to 36) to demonstrate the sea change in young adults’ activities and experiences that has occurred over the past 50 years.

Our analysis finds several distinctive ways that Millennials stand out when compared with the Silent Generation, a group of Americans old enough to be grandparents to many Millennials:

1Today’s young adults (Millennials ages 21 to 36 in 2017) are much better educated than the Silent Generation. The educational trajectory of young women across the generations has been especially steep. Among Silent Generation women, only 9% had completed at least four years of college when they were young. By comparison, Millennial women are four times (36%) as likely as their Silent predecessors were to have at least a bachelor’s degree at the same age. Educational gains are not limited to women, as Millennial men are also better educated than earlier generations of young men. Three-in-ten Millennial men (29%) have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 15% of their young Silent counterparts. These higher levels of educational attainment at ages 21 to 36 suggest that Millennials – especially Millennial women – are on track to be our most educated generation by the time they complete their educational journeys.

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Topics: Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generations and Age

Mar 15, 2018 2:01 pm

Disagreements about Trump widely seen as reflecting divides over ‘other values and goals’

(Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
(Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Sizable shares of Americans say that those with views different from their own about how Donald Trump is handling his job as president also probably don’t share many of their other values and goals.

Just over half (54%) of the public disapproves of the job Trump is doing, while fewer (39%) say they approve of his job performance, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted March 7-14. Trump’s job ratings have changed little since the start of the year.

Among those who approve of the job Trump is doing as president, 51% say that those who feel differently about him probably do not share many of their other values and goals, while 44% say they probably do share their other values and goals.

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Topics: Political Polarization, U.S. Political Figures, Political Attitudes and Values

Mar 15, 2018 12:02 pm

For Women’s History Month, a look at gender gains – and gaps – in the U.S.

Over the past half-century, women have strengthened their position in the labor force and boosted their economic standing by making gains in labor force participation, wages and access to more lucrative occupations. But their progress on some fronts has stagnated in recent years, and large gender gaps persist at the top levels of leadership in government and business.

Here are some key findings about gender gains and gaps in America.

1Women make up 47% of the U.S. labor force, up from 30% in 1950 – but growth has stagnated. The share of women in the labor force generally grew throughout the second half of the 20th century, but it has since leveled off. Projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that in the coming decades women will continue to make up slightly less than half of the labor force.

2Women have seen steady growth in labor force participation over the past several decades, but that too has leveled off. In 2017, 57% of working-age women (ages 16 and older) were either employed or looking for work. That’s higher than it was in 1980 (51%) but down somewhat from its peak of 60% in 1999.

One of the main drivers of increased labor force participation among women over the decades has been the sharp increase in the share of mothers in the workforce. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of mothers with children younger than 18 were in the labor force in 2000, up from 47% in 1975 (the first year for which data on mothers’ labor force participation are available). That share has remained relatively stable since about 2000.

Men’s presence in the labor force has been on the decline in recent decades. In 1980, 77% of working-age men (ages 16 and older) were employed or looking for work; in 2017, 69% were in the labor force.

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Topics: Gender

Mar 14, 2018 2:00 pm

About a quarter of U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online

(Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
(Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

As smartphones and other mobile devices have become more widespread, 26% of American adults now report that they go online “almost constantly,” up from 21% in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January 2018.

Overall, 77% of Americans go online on a daily basis. That figure includes the 26% who go online almost constantly, as well as 43% who say they go online several times a day and 8% who go online about once a day. Some 11% go online several times a week or less often, while 11% of adults say they do not use the internet at all.

Adults with mobile connectivity are especially likely to be online a lot. Among mobile internet users – the 83% of Americans who use the internet at least occasionally using a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device – 89% go online daily and 31% go online almost constantly. Among Americans who go online but not via a mobile device, by comparison, 54% go online daily and just 5% say they go online almost constantly.

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Topics: Internet Activities, Technology Adoption

Mar 14, 2018 6:59 am

It’s Pi Day – and there’s some good news for math teachers

Nalani Reid ponders a math word problem on the first day of fourth grade in September 2016 at David A. Ellis Elementary School in Boston. Classmate Alanis Vega sits at right. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Nalani Reid ponders a math word problem on the first day of fourth grade in September 2016 at David A. Ellis Elementary School in Boston. Classmate Alanis Vega sits at right. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

March 14 is that special time of year people pay homage to the mathematical constant pi (π). And a finding from a Pew Research Center survey should bring good cheer to educators nationwide: Most Americans (58%) say they actually liked studying math in grades K-12.

The fascination about pi – the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter – is that it is an infinitely long number beginning with 3.14.

Several days celebrating math are spread across the calendar. (It’s never too early to prepare for the next Pythagorean Triple Day, on 12/16/20.) But Pi Day in particular has grown into a popular cultural phenomenon since it was first introduced in 1988. The U.S. House of Representatives even passed a nonbinding resolution in 2009 commemorating the day, while also encouraging “schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.”

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Topics: Science and Innovation, Education

Mar 13, 2018 7:01 am

U.S. Catholics offer wide range of answers when asked about Francis’ most notable action as pope

Pope Francis embraces a boy after a weekly audience in Vatican City in 2013. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis embraces a boy after a weekly audience in Vatican City in 2013. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Most U.S. Catholics continue to have a high opinion of Pope Francis as he marks his fifth year as pontiff, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January. And when we asked Catholics to tell us the most significant thing Francis has done so far – in their own words, regardless of their opinion of the pope – they offered a variety of responses that cover many facets of religious and public life.

For instance, about one-in-ten U.S. Catholics (9%) said Francis’ most notable action has been showing humility and setting a good Christian example. Individual U.S. Catholics told us Francis “is very humble with the people,” that he’s “humbling himself to teach Christianity,” and that “he’s a pope for the people.”

At the same time, an equal share of respondents (9%) credited Francis with opening up the church and making it more accepting. One respondent said, “He seems to get the idea across that all people are important and worthy of attention and rights.” Another said Francis is “teaching acceptance and diversity.”

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Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Religious Affiliation, Religious Leaders

Mar 12, 2018 11:01 am

People in less democratic countries are more likely to say China and Russia respect personal freedoms

Chinese President Xi Jinping, foreground, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hangzhou, China, in September 2016 as world leaders assembled for the 11th G20 Summit. (Wang Zhou - Pool/Getty Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping, foreground, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hangzhou, China, in September 2016 as world leaders assembled for the 11th G20 Summit. (Wang Zhou – Pool/Getty Images)

Do the Russian and Chinese governments respect the personal freedoms of their people? Your opinion may depend on where you live.

People who live in countries where the political system is less than “fully democratic” tend to give Beijing and Moscow higher marks for upholding individual rights than people who live in full democracies, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of public opinion in 38 countries across the globe.

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Topics: Eastern Europe, China, Russia, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Democracy