For decades the gold standard for public opinion surveys has been the probability poll, where a sample of randomly selected adults is polled and results are used to measure public opinion across an entire population. But the cost of these traditional polls is growing each year, leading many pollsters to turn to online nonprobability surveys, which do not rely on random sampling and instead recruit through ads, pop-up solicitations and other approaches.
The advantages of these online surveys are obvious – they are fast and relatively inexpensive, and the technology for them is pervasive. But are they accurate? Pew Research Center undertook a study to answer this question. Courtney Kennedy, director of survey research, explains what we found.
What was the Center’s goal in undertaking this study?
We recognize that the use of online nonprobability surveys is already widespread and that their popularity is likely to increase in the years ahead, due in large part to the growing costs associated with traditional, probability-based surveys. So we conducted this study as a first step in trying to understand what the landscape of online nonprobability polls looks like and how these types of surveys perform – without elaborate adjustments – using several metrics.
What did the study look like?
We constructed a 56-item questionnaire that was administered to nine different samples from eight commercial vendors. The questionnaire included 20 items that have population benchmarks (such as smoking, health care coverage, household composition and more) from high-quality federal surveys so we could estimate the accuracy of each vendor’s results and better understand the makeup of each sample’s participants.
Nearly all the same 56 questions were also asked on waves of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), which is conducted predominantly online but also allows for mail response for adults without internet access. Unlike the other samples in the study, the ATP is probability-based because its members were recruited from our 2014 random-digit-dial telephone survey of 10,000 U.S. adults. Read More →
Category: Social Studies
The teen birth rate in the U.S. is at a record low, dropping below 25 births per 1,000 teen females for the first time since the government began collecting consistent data on births to teens ages 15-19, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Nonwhite and younger teens have led the way in declining birth rates in recent years. Since the most recent peak in 2007, the birth rate among all teens has dropped by 42%. The declines among Hispanic (50%), Asian or Pacific Islander (48%) and black (44%) teens have outpaced this national average, while the decline among white teens (36%) has been somewhat more modest. Birth rates among younger teens ages 15-17 have also fallen faster – dropping by 50%, compared with a 39% decline among older teens ages 18 and 19. Read More →
Anyone who has filed a U.S. tax return, applied for a Social Security number or signed up for Medicare has given personal data to the government. So when the Census Bureau counts the American public, can it use the information that other federal agencies have already collected?
The Census Bureau would very much like to do that. For the 2020 census, the bureau is testing whether government records could supply basic details about 6 million hard-to-count households, and be used to identify another 6 million vacant homes so door-to-door enumerators can save time by skipping them during follow-up on homes that did not send in census forms. The agency also is researching whether such records could be a substitute for some questions, especially about sensitive topics such as income, on the American Community Survey, which replaced the census long form in 2010.
The Census Bureau has been studying how to make use of well-vetted government records for decades, and today does so in a limited way – to count overseas military and federal employees in the decennial census, for example. But the agency now says it is serious about doing more, and acting quickly. One reason is that it is under pressure from Congress to hold down costs for the 2020 census. Another is that it has promised to look into dropping questions from the American Community Survey that have provoked complaints from respondents.
“We’ve been talking about it for a long time as the next big frontier, and now we have no choice,” said Joseph Salvo, a New York City planning official who co-chaired a recent National Academies of Sciences workshop that included a session on how the American Community Survey might use other government or commercial data to supplement its data collection. Read More →
Israeli Arabs more optimistic about two-state solution than Arabs living in the Palestinian territories
The idea that an independent Palestinian state can peacefully coexist with Israel has been the cornerstone of many Arab-Israeli peace initiatives in recent years. But while significant shares of Israeli Arabs and Jews are optimistic about the prospect of a two-state solution, the Arabs currently in the Palestinian territories are less so.
Half of Israeli Arabs (citizens and residents living within the boundaries of Israel, as defined in the 2008 census conducted by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics) say it is possible for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully together, according to 2015 Pew Research Center surveys. By contrast, less than one-third of Arabs living in the Palestinian territories say a two-state solution is possible (28%). Jewish public opinion in Israel is divided on this question – 43% say a two-state solution is possible, while 45% disagree. Read More →
The death of superstar musician Prince has prompted many reflections on his life – including his religious faith. Prince, who was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist, became a Jehovah’s Witness as an adult and attended services in his home state of Minnesota.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, who make up just less than 1% of U.S. adults, are known for their door-to-door proselytism. But members of this denomination, which has its origins in 19th-century America, are also unique in many other ways. Here are a few facts about Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States today, based on Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study:
Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.
The Millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks. Boomers – whose generation was defined by the boom in U.S. births following World War II – are older and their numbers shrinking as the number of deaths among them exceeds the number of older immigrants arriving in the country.
Read More →
The 1970s were an important era for American environmentalism. Congress passed the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency, and the nation’s first Earth Day – created by Democratic Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin – was held on April 22, 1970.
Forty-six years later, Earth Day has expanded across the globe, with dozens of countries holding events ranging from launching new recycling programs to rallies addressing climate change.
Here are five findings related to the public’s views about the environment:
1Overall, Americans support protecting the environment, but there are deep partisan divides on the issue. Fully 74% of U.S. adults said the “country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment,” compared with 23% who say “the country has gone too far in its efforts to protect the environment,” according to newly released data from a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March.
Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party have consistently been more likely than Republican and Republican leaners to agree that the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment, but Republican support has decreased since 2004 and the gap between the two groups has widened to 38 percentage points today. Read More →
Category: 5 Facts
New York had the largest immigrant population of any state from 1850 to 1970, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
But in the 1970s, things changed as immigration from Mexico began to surge. By 1980, California overtook New York as the state with the most immigrants, after more than doubling its immigrant population in a decade. In 2014, California’s immigrant population was the largest in the country, numbering 10.5 million – more than twice the size of New York’s and Texas’. Read More →
The world was home to nearly half a million centenarians (people ages 100 and older) in 2015, more than four times as many as in 1990, according to United Nations estimates. And this growth is expected to accelerate: Projections suggest there will be 3.7 million centenarians across the globe in 2050.
While centenarians make up a small share of the world’s older population, their proportion is growing. In 1990 there were 2.9 centenarians for every 10,000 adults ages 65 and older around the world. That share grew to 7.4 by 2015 and is projected to rise to 23.6 by 2050.
Since 1990, the population of those ages 80 and older – the oldest segments of the 65-plus population – has grown more rapidly than that of the younger segments, those ages 65-79. This faster growth is driven by improved life expectancies among those 65 and older. Read More →
English proficiency among U.S. Latinos has risen over the past 14 years, an increase almost entirely due to the growing share of younger Hispanics born in the U.S., according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.
When asked about their language use and English proficiency in 2014, some 88% of Latinos ages 5 to 17 said they either speak only English at home or speak English “very well,” up from 73% who said the same in 2000.
And among Latinos ages 18 to 33, the share who speak only English at home or say they speak English “very well” increased from 59% to 76% during this time.
Increasing English use by young Hispanics has been driven in large part by demographics. More Hispanics in the U.S. today were born in the country than arrived as immigrants (the number of newly arrived immigrants from Latin America has been in decline for a decade). For example, 65% of Latinos in 2014 were U.S. born, compared with 60% in 2000. One consequence of this trend is that a greater share of young Hispanics ages 5 to 17 are growing up in households where only English is spoken – 37% in 2014 compared with 30% in 2000. Read More →