May 15, 2018 7:00 am

Rising share of U.S. primary schools have sworn officers on the premises

Tiffany Wiggins, a school police officer in Baltimore, talks with a student at Thomas Jefferson Elementary/Middle School in 2015. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Tiffany Wiggins, a school police officer in Baltimore, talks with a student at Thomas Jefferson Elementary/Middle School in 2015. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A growing share of public primary schools in the United States have sworn law enforcement officers on site, according to a recent government report that comes amid renewed attention to school security.

An estimated 36% of U.S. public primary schools had sworn officers on site at least once a week in the 2015-16 school year, up from 21% a decade earlier, according to the report from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The share of primary schools with an officer present grew much faster during this period than the share of secondary schools with an officer on site, which increased from 58% to 65%. (The most recent available data for both types of schools are for the 2015-16 school year. Primary schools are defined as schools where the lowest grade is not higher than grade three and the highest grade is not higher than grade eight. Secondary schools include middle and high schools, as well as combined schools.)

The presence of officers at primary schools differed by the size of the school: A quarter of schools with fewer than 300 students reported officers on site, compared with 42% of schools with 500 to 999 students. (Comparable data for primary schools with 1,000 or more students are unavailable.)

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Topics: Education

May 14, 2018 1:03 pm

Can we still trust polls?

This is one of an occasional series of posts on polling. 

Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as the UK’s decision to leave the European Union through “Brexit,” rattled public confidence in polls. Since these two major world events occurred, we have been asked the same question when giving presentations, on social media, in interviews, and from our own friends and neighbors: “Can we still trust polls?”

Our new video explains why well-designed polls can be trusted.

Those who felt led astray by surveys conducted during the 2016 U.S. presidential election may be surprised to learn that national polling was generally quite accurate.

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Topics: Polling, Research Methods

May 14, 2018 12:17 pm

Many Republican Millennials differ with older party members on climate change and energy issues

There are significant divides between younger Republicans – Millennials born between 1981 and 1996 – and their elders in the GOP on a range of environmental and energy issues. One notable difference is that larger shares of GOP Millennials believe that the Earth is warming mostly due to human activity or say that climate change is affecting their communities.

About a third (36%) of Millennials in the GOP say the Earth is warming mostly due to human activity, double the share of Republicans in the Baby Boomer or older generations, according to a Pew Research Center survey. This finding is consistent with a 2017 Pew Research Center survey that used somewhat different question wording.

In addition, 45% of Millennial Republicans say they are seeing at least some effects of global climate change in the communities where they live, compared with a third of Republicans in the Baby Boomer or older generations.

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Topics: Political Party Affiliation, Science and Innovation, Energy and Environment, U.S. Political Parties, Generations and Age

May 11, 2018 7:00 am

Growing share of Americans say Supreme Court should base its rulings on what Constitution means today

A majority of Americans (55%) now say the U.S. Supreme Court should base its rulings on what the Constitution “means in current times,” while 41% say rulings should be based on what it “meant as originally written,” according to a recent Pew Research Center report on American democratic values.

This represents a shift in public opinion, which was divided on this question for more than a decade. When Pew Research Center last asked the question in October 2016, 46% said the high court should base its rulings on what the document means in current times, while an identical share (46%) said rulings should be based on what it meant when originally written.

Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78%) now say rulings should be based on the Constitution’s meaning in current times, higher than at any previous point on record and up 9 percentage points from 2016 (69%). Just three-in-ten Republicans and Republican leaners now say the same, an 11-point increase from 2016 but little changed from GOP views in the years prior.

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Topics: Supreme Court, Federal Government

May 10, 2018 2:02 pm

Americans are generally positive about free trade agreements, more critical of tariff increases

A worker at the Friedrich Wilhelms-Hutte steelworks in Mulheim, Germany. Recent proposals to increase U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports have raised concern among business interests and foreign leaders. (Markus Matzel/Ullstein Bild via Getty Images)
A worker at the Friedrich Wilhelms-Hutte steelworks in Mulheim, Germany. Recent proposals to increase U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports have raised concern among business interests and foreign leaders. (Markus Matzel/Ullstein Bild via Getty Images)

Americans’ views of free trade agreements, which turned more negative during the 2016 presidential campaign, are now about as positive as they were prior to the campaign. And when asked about proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, more say they would be bad for the country than say they would be good.

A majority of U.S. adults (56%) say free trade agreements have been a “good thing” for the country as a whole, while 30% say they have been a “bad thing.” That is the highest share expressing positive views of free trade agreements in three years, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.

Most of the change has come among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, who now are evenly divided in their views of free trade agreements’ impact on the country. While 46% say these agreements have been a bad thing for the country, nearly as many (43%) say they have been a good thing. In the final weeks of the presidential campaign in October 2016, 63% of Republicans viewed free trade agreements negatively, while just 29% said they were a good thing.

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Topics: Globalization and Trade, Political Issue Priorities

May 10, 2018 11:00 am

7 facts about U.S. moms

Cultura/Seb Oliver
Cultura/Seb Oliver

American motherhood has changed in many ways since Mother’s Day was first celebrated more than 100 years ago. Today’s moms are more educated than ever before. A majority of women with a young child are in the labor force, and more mothers are serving as their family’s sole or primary “breadwinner.” At the same time, the share of women who are stay-at-home moms has increased in recent years.

Here are some key findings about American mothers and motherhood from Pew Research Center reports:

1Women are more likely now to become mothers than they were a decade ago. The share of U.S. women at the end of their childbearing years (ages 40 to 44) who had ever given birth in 2016 was 86%, up from 80% in 2006. This was similar to the share who were mothers in the early 1990s.

The number of babies a woman has in her lifetime has also ticked up over the past decade, to 2.07 on average in 2016, from a low of 1.86 in 2006. While these findings may seem to contradict the notion that the U.S. is experiencing a post-recession “Baby Bust,” the figures used here are based on measures of lifetime fertility, or the number of births a woman has ever had, while indicators showing a post-recession fertility slump are based on births in a given year.

Over the past 20 years, highly educated women have experienced particularly dramatic increases in motherhood. In 2014, 80% of women ages 40 to 44 with a Ph.D. or professional degree had given birth, compared with 65% in 1994. The shares of women who were mothers also rose among those with bachelor’s or master’s degrees during this period, while rates of motherhood remained steady for women with less than a bachelor’s degree, at 88%.

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Topics: Family Roles, Birth Rate and Fertility, Gender, Demographics, Family and Relationships, Parenthood, Household and Family Structure

May 9, 2018 7:00 am

U.S. international relations scholars, global citizens differ sharply on views of threats to their country

(Left: DKAR Images. Right: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)
(Left: DKAR Images. Right: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. foreign policy scholars are more concerned about climate change – and less worried about ISIS and refugees – than both average Americans and general publics abroad.

The international relations scholars in question shared their views via a survey conducted by the Teaching, Research and International Policy (TRIP) Project. The questions posed to these U.S. academics were mirrored in a 2017 Pew Research Center survey of publics in 37 countries, plus the United States.

Eight-in-ten international relations scholars surveyed as part of the TRIP project said that climate change is a major threat to the U.S., compared with 56% of the American general public. A median of 61% across 37 countries surveyed in spring 2017 also said climate change is a threat to their country. Fewer than one-in-ten (7%) IR scholars said the large number of refugees from places like Iraq and Syria is a big threat, while almost four-in-ten around the world and 36% of Americans held this view. And while 74% of Americans and 62% among global publics said ISIS is a major threat, only 14% of the scholars agreed.

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Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy

May 8, 2018 7:01 am

Most Americans want to limit campaign spending, say big donors have greater political influence

Americans overwhelmingly support limits on political campaign spending, and most think new laws could effectively reduce the role of money in politics.

A recent Pew Research Center report finds several indications of public concern over campaign spending. There is widespread – and bipartisan – agreement that people who make large political donations should not have more political influence than others, but Americans largely don’t see that as a description of the country today.

And there is extensive support for reining in campaign spending: 77% of the public says “there should be limits on the amount of money individuals and organizations” can spend on political campaigns; just 20% say they should be able to spend as much as they want.

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Topics: Elections and Campaigns

May 7, 2018 11:00 am

Blacks more likely than others in U.S. to read the Bible regularly, see it as God’s word

(Stephen Morton/Getty Images)
(Stephen Morton/Getty Images)

This is one of an occasional series of posts on black Americans and religion.

For African Americans, the Bible’s Exodus narrative is a cultural touchstone. Since before the Civil War, the story of the Israelites’ slavery and deliverance has spurred comparisons to black people’s experiences in the United States. Scripture’s importance to the black population in the U.S. is reflected in Pew Research Center survey data showing that black people are more likely than most other Americans to read scripture regularly and to view it as the word of God.

Indeed, more than half of black people in the U.S. (54%) – both Christian and non-Christian – say they read the Bible or other holy scripture at least once a week outside of religious services, compared with 32% of whites and 38% of Hispanics, according to data from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study. Indeed, relatively few black people (24%) say they seldom or never read the Bible, compared with 50% of whites and 40% of Hispanics.

Among Christian groups, 61% of those who are members of the historically black Protestant tradition (more than half of all black Americans) read scripture at least weekly, similar to the level seen among those in the evangelical Protestant tradition (63%). In addition, those in the historically black Protestant tradition are much more likely than Catholics (25%) and mainline Protestants (30%) to say they read scripture at least weekly, though less likely than Jehovah’s Witnesses (88%) and Mormons (77%).

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Topics: Religious Beliefs and Practices, Race and Ethnicity

May 4, 2018 9:00 am

More than a million Millennials are becoming moms each year

Some 1.2 million Millennial women gave birth for the first time in 2016, according to National Center for Health Statistics data, raising the total number of U.S. women in this generation who have become mothers to more than 17 million.

All told, Millennial women (those born from 1981 to 1996) accounted for 82% of U.S. births in 2016. At the same time, Millennials made up 29% of the adult U.S. population and more than a third of the U.S. workforce (35%).

While they now account for the vast majority of annual U.S. births, Millennial women are waiting longer to become parents than prior generations did. In 2016, for instance, 48% of Millennial women (ages 20 to 35 at the time) were moms. But in 2000, when women from Generation X – those born between 1965 and 1980 – were the same age, 57% were already moms, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data. (The rising age at first birth is hardly limited to the Millennial generation. It has been a trend since at least 1970 and may stem from many factors, including a shift away from marriage, increasing educational attainment and the movement of women into the labor force.)

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Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, Millennials, Gender, Demographics, Generations and Age, Parenthood