Aug 31, 2016 10:00 am

Migrant remittances worldwide drop in 2015 for first time since Great Recession

View our newly updated interactive to see the top inflows and outflows of money sent by migrants worldwide.

Worldwide, an estimated $582 billion was sent by migrants to relatives in their home countries in 2015, a 2% decline from 2014, when the amount was $592 billion, according to economists at the World Bank. This is the first drop in global remittances since 2009, when they fell by $28 billion amid the global financial crisis.

Despite this recent decline, remittances sent by migrants are still about double what they were a decade ago, before the sharp decline in the global economy during the late 2000s. And, with the exception of 2009, migrant remittances worldwide have steadily climbed since the World Bank began releasing estimates in 1970.

The volume of migrant remittances is closely tied to the increase in migrant populations. The number of international migrants (people who live in a country other than their birth country) has grown from about 191 million in 2005 to more than 243 million today even as the share of the world’s population that are migrants has remained steady at about 3%. The U.S., which has more migrants than any other country, is also the source of more remittances than any other country. Migrant remittances from the U.S. continue to go up even though migration to the U.S. from Mexico has slowed and possibly reversed. (Mexico is the largest receiving country of remittances from the U.S.)

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Immigration, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, Migration, North America, Remittances

Aug 30, 2016 12:19 pm

Americans skeptical about the potential use of synthetic blood

Americans are largely cautious about the idea of using synthetic blood substitutes to improve the speed, strength and stamina of healthy individuals, according to a recent Pew Research Center report examining U.S. attitudes about the potential use of emerging biomedical technologies.

Lab-manufactured synthetic blood, sometimes called “super blood,” would replicate the oxygen-carrying capabilities of red blood cells, thereby boosting oxygen levels in the bloodstream. At its most basic application, synthetic blood could help alleviate blood shortages, given that it could be used regardless of blood type. But it could also be engineered to fight infections or carry more oxygen, potentially boosting healthy individuals’ productivity in their everyday lives.

For the biomedical world, synthetic blood is a not a new concept. Research into substitutes for human blood ramped up in the 1980s due to the HIV crisis. More recently, a group of researchers from the UK announced that clinical trials to give human subjects manufactured blood in transfusions could begin as early as 2017.

But the Center’s survey found that Americans are more worried than excited or enthusiastic about the potential for healthy people to use synthetic blood (63% vs. 36%). And a majority of Americans – roughly six-in-ten – said they would not want synthetic blood substitutes in their own body to improve their abilities, while 35% would be open to it.  Read More

Topics: Bioethics, Christians and Christianity, Emerging Technology Impacts, Religion and Society, Science and Innovation, Technology Adoption

Aug 29, 2016 12:31 pm

This may be the last presidential election dominated by Boomers and prior generations

For the past few decades, presidential elections have been dominated by voters of the Baby Boom and previous generations, who are estimated to have cast a majority of the votes. But their election reign may end this November, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

Baby Boomers and prior generations have cast the vast majority of votes in every presidential election since 1980, data from the Census Bureau’s November Current Population Survey voting supplement show. In 2012, Boomers and previous generations accounted for 56% of those who said they voted. And these generations dominated earlier elections to an even greater degree.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Baby Boomers, Generations and Age, Millennials, Population Trends, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation, Voting Issues

Aug 26, 2016 10:30 am

Many Americans are wary of using gene editing for human enhancement

A new gene-splicing technique, CRISPR, greatly improves scientists’ ability to accurately and efficiently “edit” the human genome. (Getty Images)
A new gene-splicing technique, CRISPR, greatly improves scientists’ ability to accurately and efficiently “edit” the human genome. (Getty Images)

The widespread use of gene editing is rapidly becoming a present-day reality. Thanks to a new method called CRISPR, what once was an esoteric and unwieldy technology has, in just the last few years, become cheaper and more effective.

Thousands of researchers are already using CRISPR (short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) to edit the DNA in adult cells with an eye toward creating breakthrough medical treatments. But CRISPR also can be used to edit embryos, where changes to the genome will subsequently spiral out into all of a person’s cells and be passed on to his or her offspring.

Embryonic gene editing holds the promise of dramatically enhancing people by making them healthier and more resistant to disease throughout their lives. It also has the potential to make them much smarter, stronger and faster.

Despite these possible benefits, Americans are wary of editing embryos, even if the focus is on using the technology solely to reduce their children’s risk of serious disease, according to a Pew Research Center survey about the broader field of “human enhancement.”  Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Evolution, Health, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Science and Innovation, Technology Adoption

Aug 25, 2016 2:46 pm

5 facts about Trump supporters’ views of immigration

(Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
(Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)

Immigration policy has been a focal point of Donald Trump’s campaign since he announced he was running for president 14 months ago. Today, amid signs he may be preparing to modify some of his hard-line positions on illegal immigration, here is a review of where Trump supporters stand on the issue:

1Most Trump supporters view immigration as a “very big problem” in the U.S. In a survey released last week, 66% of registered voters who support Trump in the general election call immigration a “very big problem” in the country. Just 17% of Hillary Clinton backers say the same. Terrorism is the only other issue, among seven included, that is viewed by about as many Trump supporters as a major problem (65%).

2Trump’s proposed border wall gets overwhelming support from his backers. Perhaps no Trump proposal has resonated more strongly with his supporters than his plan to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Fully 79% of Trump supporters favor building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border; just 18% are opposed. Among Clinton supporters, 88% oppose a border wall, compared with 10% who favor it.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Immigration Attitudes, Latin America, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Issue Priorities, U.S. Political Figures, Unauthorized Immigration

Aug 24, 2016 10:00 am

Why America’s ‘nones’ left religion behind

Photo of empty pews in a church
(Photo by Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Perhaps the most striking trend in American religion in recent years has been the growing percentage of adults who do not identify with a religious group. And the vast majority of these religious “nones” (78%) say they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood.

As part of a new survey connected to our broader Religious Landscape Study, we asked these people to explain, in their own words, why they no longer identify with a religious group. This resulted in hundreds of different responses (after all, everyone’s religious experience is a bit different), but many of them shared one of a few common themes.

About half of current religious “nones” who were raised in a religion (49%) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention “science” as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said “I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.” Others reference “common sense,” “logic” or a “lack of evidence” – or simply say they do not believe in God.  Read More

Topics: Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

Aug 23, 2016 1:53 pm

Partisans see opposing party as more ideological than their own

Political parties’ ideological stances are in the eye of the beholder: Republicans and Democrats see the opposite party as more ideologically extreme than their own, which they tend to consider more moderate.

In a recent Pew Research Center study of political animosity, respondents were asked to rate themselves and both political parties on an 11-point ideological scale, ranging from very liberal to very conservative.

Members of both parties most commonly place the other party on the extreme end of the scale. Among Democrats, 34% placed the GOP at the most conservative point. Even more Republicans – 45% – put the Democratic Party at the liberal extreme.

Majorities in both parties view the other party as closer to the ideological extreme than the center. Nearly six-in-ten Democrats (58%) place the Republican Party at one of the three most conservative points on the scale (0-2), while 69% of Republicans place the Democratic Party on the most liberal points (8-10).

Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Parties

Aug 23, 2016 10:00 am

What do Americans look for in a church, and how do they find one? It depends in part on their age

About half of all Americans have looked for a new congregation at some point in their lives. But how they have searched, and what they were seeking, has depended to some degree on their age.

Younger adults were more likely than older Americans to turn to the web or to other people when looking for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study has found. They also were less likely to prioritize religious education for children when choosing a church, possibly reflecting the fact that in recent years people have been waiting longer to have children.

It might not be surprising that young adults are more likely to look online for information about a congregation, given that younger Americans in general are more likely to use the internet than older adults. Perhaps more striking are the age differences associated with seeking advice from others when choosing a church: At least three-quarters of adults under 30 talked to a congregation member (75%) or a friend (82%) as part of their search, compared with just over half (55% and 54% respectively) of people 65 or older.

Read More

Topics: Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Aug 22, 2016 11:28 am

Europeans back anti-ISIS campaign but have doubts about use of force in fighting terror

After a year of escalating terror attacks against Western targets, people across Europe are widely supportive of U.S.-led military action against the Islamic militant group in Iraq and Syria known as ISIS. But when it comes to a broader strategy to defeat terrorism around the world, many Europeans fear relying too much on military force will create hatred that leads to more terrorism.

A Pew Research Center survey conducted this spring, before the most recent terror attacks in France and Germany, found that a median of 76% across 10 European countries saw ISIS as a major threat to their nation and 69% supported U.S.-led military actions against the group.

Read More

Topics: Europe, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Terrorism, Wars and International Conflicts

Aug 19, 2016 12:17 pm

Trump supporters far less confident than Clinton backers that votes will be counted accurately

In a campaign marked by skepticism toward the political process, only about half of all registered voters (49%) are “very confident” that their vote will be accurately counted in the upcoming election. This view is particularly striking among supporters of Donald Trump and stands in contrast to the 2004 and 2008 elections, when substantial majorities of voters who backed George W. Bush and John McCain expressed confidence in the count of their votes.

Pew Research Center’s new national political survey finds that just 38% of registered voters who support Trump are very confident their vote will be accurately counted. Another 31% say they are somewhat confident, while 30% have little or no confidence their vote will be counted accurately.

Among Clinton supporters, 67% have a high degree of confidence that their vote will be counted accurately and 25% are somewhat confident. Just 7% have little or no confidence.

The gap between the two camps is about as large among those who express confidence in an accurate vote count nationally. Nearly half of Clinton supporters (49%) and just 11% of Trump supporters are highly confident that votes across the country will be counted accurately.

Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns, Political Party Affiliation, Trust in Government, Voter Participation