Dec 4, 2017 1:01 pm

How Americans and Germans view their countries’ relationship

The relationship between the United States and Germany has been a cornerstone of the liberal international order for decades. From the Marshall Plan to early entry into NATO to German reunification and the post-Cold War era, the two countries have been engaged together in major historical events while facing many of the same challenges to both security and prosperity.

Despite this shared history, the future of U.S.-German relations is unclear. People in the two countries differ in their views of the bilateral relationship, according to parallel surveys fielded in the U.S. by Pew Research Center and in Germany by Körber-Stiftung. For example, while many Americans say European allies like Germany should spend more on defense, most Germans are opposed to growing their country’s defense budget. (The results of the surveys will be among the topics of discussion at Tuesday’s Berlin Foreign Policy Forum.)

Here are six key findings from the surveys:

1Americans and Germans have quite different opinions about whether the current relationship between the two countries is good or bad. Almost seven-in-ten Americans (68%) say relations between the U.S. and Germany are good, while only 22% say they are bad.

Meanwhile, a majority of Germans (56%) say that relations with the U.S. are at least somewhat bad, with only 42% saying they are positive.

2Americans and Germans differ when people in each country are asked which nations are their first and second most important partners. Combining both first and second mentions, Americans name Great Britain more than any other country (31%), followed by China (24%), Germany (12%), Israel (12%) and Canada (10%).

In Germany, France gathers the most votes as either first or second most important partner (63%), followed by the U.S. (43%). Lagging far behind in the eyes of Germans are Russia (11%), China (7%) and Great Britain (6%).

Of note, 17% of Germans point to the U.S. as their country’s first most important foreign policy partner, while only 5% of Americans do the same when it comes to Germany.

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Topics: Europe, International Threats and Allies, Western Europe, International Governments and Institutions, North America, Global Balance of Power

Dec 4, 2017 10:03 am

Europe’s Muslim population will continue to grow – but how much depends on migration

The recent surge in refugees from Syria and other Muslim-majority nations to Europe has prompted a backlash among segments of Europe’s population, including the rise of political parties that advocate a halt to immigration and groups protesting against the “Islamization” of the continent. But just how many Muslims are there in Europe? How many will there be in the future?

While Muslims are still a relatively small share of Europe’s population (roughly 5%), they are set to continue rising as a percentage of Europe’s population, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of demographic data. This is true even if immigration stops entirely in the coming decades, which is a highly unlikely scenario. And if migration to the continent continues at medium or high levels, the share of Europe’s population that is Muslim could more than double between now and 2050, according to the analysis, which defines Europe as the 28 European Union member states plus Norway and Switzerland.

The new report includes three different projections for the coming decades, based on three different sets of circumstances involving migration. None of these are predictions, because predicting future migration patterns is impossible; none will play out exactly. But all are data-based projections intended as a starting point from which to imagine other scenarios.

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Topics: Population Trends, Religious Affiliation, Muslims and Islam, Migration, Population Projections

Dec 1, 2017 11:37 am

First-time internet users: Who they are and what they do when they get online

Artur Debat / Getty Images
(Artur Debat/Getty Images)

Decades after internet access became widely available, Pew Research Center surveys show that about a tenth of American adults (12%) remain offline. But what happens when some of them take the plunge and connect? A new analysis provides a glimpse of the online behaviors of those who are new to the internet.

The Center provided internet-connected tablet computers to 112 people who are members of our American Trends Panel. These panelists, who previously received our surveys through the mail, had never used the internet under any circumstances. This change allowed these respondents to become internet users if they wished by using the tablets for online activities other than taking surveys.

This is not a large sample. Still, these newly internet-enabled adults answered some questions that provide insight into who late adopters of the internet are, the online activities they perform and their struggles with new devices. Here is what we learned about this modest sample of new users:

For starters, having access to the internet did not lead to more online exploration for some of the people we studied. About four-in-ten (39%) reported they had used the new tablet they were given only for taking surveys and did not attempt any other online activity we queried. This is consistent with past Center findings that many non-users of the internet say they are not interested in going online because they do not want or need the technology.

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Topics: Research Methods, Internet Activities, Web Survey Methods, American Trends Panel Methods

Nov 30, 2017 11:30 am

5 ways the U.S. workforce has changed, a decade since the Great Recession began

Job seekers wait in line during a jobs fair at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Robbinsville, New Jersey, on Aug. 2. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Job seekers wait in line during a jobs fair at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Robbinsville, New Jersey, on Aug. 2. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Ten years ago, as Americans prepared for the winter holidays, few suspected that the U.S. economy was about to enter one of its steepest downturns in living memory. The Great Recession, as it came to be known, began in December 2007 and worsened considerably with the 2008 global financial crisis. Although people’s perceptions of their local job market have improved considerably in recent years, in many ways the U.S. labor force looks very different than it did at the beginning of the recession.

Here are five ways in which the U.S. workforce has changed since the onset of the Great Recession. (It’s worth noting that, in many cases, the slump intensified or accelerated longer-term trends that already were underway. Also, in order to highlight changes, in most cases we compare the most recent available economic data points with those in December 2007, when the economy started its big slowdown.)

1A smaller share of Americans are in the labor force. In December 2007, two-thirds (66.0%) of civilians ages 16 and over either were employed or actively looking for work; as of October of this year, only 62.7% were. The labor force participation rate, as it’s called, fell steadily throughout the Great Recession and well into the subsequent recovery. It bottomed out at a seasonally adjusted 62.4% in September 2015 and has risen only slightly since then.  Read More

Topics: Work and Employment, National Economy, Economic Recession

Nov 30, 2017 6:59 am

Q&A: The challenges of estimating the size of Europe’s Muslim population

In many European countries, Muslim immigration and integration have been at the center of policy, political and social debates – and they have been a factor in the elections of several nations. Key to understanding this issue is getting a fix on the size of Europe’s current Muslim population and how much, if at all, it will grow in the future.

A new Pew Research Center study tackles these questions. In this Q&A, Conrad Hackett, associate director of research and senior demographer at Pew Research Center, discusses how he and his team came up with the report’s population estimates and projections for Muslims in Europe.

What are some of the biggest challenges in trying to measure the size of the Muslim population in Europe?

Conrad Hackett, associate director of research and senior demographer, Pew Research Center
Conrad Hackett, associate director of research and senior demographer, Pew Research Center

Although there is great interest in Europe’s Muslim population, getting data is more difficult than you might imagine, largely because there is no official tally of this population. One reason is that some countries are averse to officially measuring religion. For instance, France hasn’t measured religion in a nationwide census since 1872. And even in some of the countries that do attempt to measure religion in their census, the figures can be problematic. For example, in the 2011 German census, which asked an optional question on religious identity, fewer than 2% of people identified as Muslim – an obvious undercount. And Muslims may be underrepresented in general population surveys for a host of reasons, such as language barriers.

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Topics: Europe, Population Trends, Religious Affiliation, Muslims and Islam, Population Projections

Nov 29, 2017 6:00 pm

5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe

Muslims are a relatively small minority in Europe, making up roughly 5% of the population. However, in some countries, such as France and Sweden, the Muslim share of the population is higher. And, in the coming decades, the Muslim share of the continent’s population is expected to grow – and could more than double, according to Pew Research Center projections.

These demographic shifts have already led to political and social upheavals in many European countries, especially in the wake of the recent arrival of millions of asylum seekers, many of whom are Muslims. In recent national elections in France and Germany, for instance, immigration — and particularly Muslim immigration — were top issues.

Using Pew Research Center’s most recent population estimates, here are five facts about the size and makeup of the Muslim population in Europe:

1France and Germany have the largest Muslim populations in Europe (defined as the 28 current European Union member countries plus Norway and Switzerland). As of mid-2016, there were 5.7 million Muslims in France (8.8% of the country’s population) and 5 million Muslims in Germany (6.1%). The EU country in which Muslims make up the largest share of the population is Cyprus: The island nation’s 300,000 Muslims make up about one-quarter (25.4%) of its population, and are mostly Turkish Cypriots with deep roots in Cyprus (and not recent migrants).

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Europe, Religious Affiliation, Muslims and Islam, Migration

Nov 29, 2017 3:30 pm

Many Americans, especially blacks and Hispanics, are hungry for help as they sort through information

While only 20% of Americans say they feel overloaded by the amount of information they encounter in modern life, many are open to getting some help in finding material that can help them make decisions.

A new analysis of a November 2016 Pew Research Center survey shows that 76% of U.S. adults say they would benefit “a lot” from having at least one of seven different kinds of help in accessing information that can help them make decisions. (See chart below for full list.) About four-in-ten (41%) say three or more of these possible forms of assistance would help them a lot.

Better service

Americans are especially likely to say they would benefit from improvements in the services they use to go online. Seven-in-ten cellphone users (70%) say they would benefit from an unlimited data plan, with 50% saying they would benefit a lot. And nearly three-quarters of home internet users (72%) say having more reliable service would help them gather information for decisions, with 48% saying it would help them a lot.

There are notable differences by race and ethnicity. Among cellphone owners, 79% of Hispanics and 77% of blacks say unlimited data plans would be at least somewhat helpful, compared with 67% of whites. And among home internet users, 82% of Hispanics and 81% of blacks say more reliable home internet service would be at least somewhat helpful, compared with 68% of whites.

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Topics: Technology Adoption, Information Seeking, Emerging Technology Impacts

Nov 28, 2017 1:43 pm

Ethiopia is an outlier in the Orthodox Christian world

An Orthodox priest at Nakuto Lab Rock Church, outside Lalibela, Ethiopia. About three-quarters of Orthodox Ethiopians say they attend church every week. (Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)
An Orthodox priest at Nakuto Lab Rock Church, outside Lalibela, Ethiopia. About three-quarters of Orthodox Ethiopians say they attend church every week. (Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

Ethiopia has the largest Orthodox Christian population outside Europe, and, by many measures, Orthodox Ethiopians have much higher levels of religious commitment than do Orthodox Christians in the faith’s heartland of Central and Eastern Europe.

The country in the Horn of Africa has 36 million Orthodox Christians, the world’s second-largest Orthodox population after Russia.

Nearly all Orthodox Ethiopians (98%) say religion is very important to them, compared with a median of 34% of Orthodox saying this across 13 countries surveyed in Central and Eastern Europe. About three-quarters of Orthodox Ethiopians say they attend church every week (78%), compared with a median of 10% in Central and Eastern Europe and just 6% in Russia.

Orthodox Ethiopians are more likely than Orthodox Christians in Central and Eastern Europe to wear religious symbols (93% vs. median of 64%), to say they believe in God with absolute certainty (89% vs. 56%), to fast during holy times such as Lent (87% vs. 27%), and to tithe (57% vs. 14%). Indeed, these gaps between Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia and Europe mirror broader differences in religious commitment between people living in sub-Saharan Africa, where religious observance is relatively high among all major religious groups, and those in more secular societies in Central and Eastern Europe.

Orthodox Ethiopians also tend to be more conservative on social issues than are other Orthodox Christians surveyed; they express higher levels of moral opposition to homosexuality, prostitution, abortion, divorce and drinking alcohol. For instance, Orthodox Ethiopians are much more likely to say that having an abortion is morally wrong than are Orthodox Christians in Central and Eastern Europe (83% vs. median of 46%).

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Topics: Sub-Saharan Africa, Religious Affiliation, Christians and Christianity

Nov 28, 2017 6:59 am

Americans are split on the principle of pre-emptive military force

As rhetoric between the United States and North Korea has grown increasingly hostile in recent months, Americans are divided over the use of pre-emptive military force to attack countries that threaten the U.S.

Half say using military force against countries that may seriously threaten the U.S. – but have not attacked it – can often (12%) or sometimes (38%) be justified, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October. About as many (48%) say such pre-emptive use of military force can rarely (28%) or never (20%) be justified.

A recent report by the Center found that the share of Americans who see North Korea’s nuclear program as a major threat to the U.S. is as high as at any point since 2005. A separate report found that growing shares of Americans think the regime in Pyongyang is capable of hitting the U.S. with a nuclear missile and willing to follow through on threats to do so.

Today, the public is somewhat more likely to express reservations about the use of pre-emptive force than it was eight years ago, when Pew Research Center last asked the question. In November 2009, during President Barack Obama’s first year in office and amid debate about drawing down U.S. troop levels in Iraq, 52% of Americans said the use of pre-emptive military force by the U.S. was sometimes or often justified, compared with 41% who said it was rarely or never justified (8% did not offer a view). The share who say pre-emptive military force is rarely or never justified is up 7 percentage points from 2009.

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Topics: Wars and International Conflicts, U.S. Political Parties, Military and Veterans, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Political Polarization

Nov 27, 2017 6:59 am

Views of transgender issues divide along religious lines

The American public is sharply divided along religious lines over whether it is possible for someone to be a gender different from their sex at birth, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

Most Christians in the United States (63%) say that whether someone is a man or a woman is determined by their sex at birth. Among religious “nones” – those who identify religiously as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – about six-in-ten (62%) say they think a person’s gender is not necessarily determined by the sex they are assigned at birth.

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Topics: Gender, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices