Aug 20, 2015 11:29 am

How having smartphones (or not) shapes the way teens communicate

It may seem as if basic or flip phones are a thing of the past, given that 73% of teens have a smartphone. But that still leaves 15% of teens who only have a basic cellphone and 12% who have none at all, and it makes a difference in the way each group communicates, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

Teens With and Without SmartphonesTexting is an especially popular way for smartphone-using teens to communicate with their closest friends, while teens without a smartphone are more likely than their smartphone-using counterparts to use social media and phone calls as their preferred ways for connecting with their best pals.

Teens who have a close friend were asked to name their most common method of getting in touch with their closest friend. Texting is the number one way all teens get in touch with their closest friends. Some 58% of teens with smartphones cite texting as the main way they communicate with their closest friend online or by phone, compared with 25% of teens without smartphone access.

On the other hand, non-smartphone-using teens are more likely than those with smartphones to keep in touch with their closest friend via social media. Some 29% of teens without smartphone access cited social media as their most common online or phone method of communicating with a best friend, compared with 17% for smartphone users who did so. Read More

Topics: Mobile, Online Communities, Social Media, Social Networking, Teens and Technology, Teens and Youth, Texting

Aug 19, 2015 9:00 am

How do Americans use Twitter for news?

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults who use Twitter get news on the platform, according to a recent survey. But we wanted a finer-grained understanding of how they use Twitter for news – not only whether they tweet about news and follow news organizations, but also what news topics they tweet about, and how many news media accounts they follow. We approached these questions through some exploratory research, leveraging one of social media’s greatest advantages for researchers: its openness.

In order to better understand how Americans are engaging with news on Twitter, we built a small but representative sample of 176 Twitter users from an earlier national survey of 3,212 Americans conducted by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We then analyzed the Twitter activity of these users, with their explicit permission.

About half of the Twitter users in our sample ever tweeted about news, defined here (and in our recent social media work) as information about events and issues beyond just your friends and family. Users in the sample were more likely to send an original post than a retweet when tweeting in general, but when posting about news, the opposite was true. And while news media accounts made up a relatively small proportion of the accounts a Twitter user in our sample followed, tweets from this type of account made up a significant portion of a user’s feed. Our findings are summarized in the infographic below.

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Topics: Internet Activities, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, Research Methods, Social Media

Aug 18, 2015 12:19 pm

5 facts about Social Security

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, 14th August 1935. (Photo by FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act on Aug. 14, 1935. (Photo by FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law 80 years ago this month, he said that while “[w]e can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life … we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.”

In the decades since then, Social Security has developed into one of the most popular federal programs, though that popularity is tempered by concern over its long-term financial outlook. In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, for instance, 50% of Gen Xers and 51% of Millennials said they believed they would receive no Social Security benefits at all by the time they’re ready to retire. Earlier this year, 66% of Americans said taking steps to make Social Security financially sound should be a top priority for President Obama and Congress this year, placing it fifth among 23 issues asked about.

SDT-next-america-03-07-2014-2-08But any reform plan entailing cuts to benefits likely would face an uphill battle for public support. The 2014 Pew Research survey also found large majorities across all generations agreeing that Social Security benefits shouldn’t be reduced; even among Millennials, the generation furthest from retirement, only 37% said future benefit reductions should be considered.

There’s often considerable confusion as to just how Social Security works, which is perhaps not surprising given the program’s complexity. (The original 1935 Social Security Act was 29 pages long; the current law, much amended and expanded, runs nearly 2,600 printed pages.) Here’s a primer on the program: Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Generations and Age, Government Spending and the Deficit, Retirement

Aug 17, 2015 2:45 pm

Brazil’s corruption scandal, economy drive Rousseff’s ratings to record low

Demonstrators protest against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the ruling Workers' Party (PT), at Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug., 16, 2015. Photo Credit: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators protest against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the ruling Workers’ Party on Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo on Aug. 16. Photo Credit: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

Driven by concerns over widespread corruption and a downturn in the country’s economy, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s poll ratings have plummeted to their lowest point since she took office in 2010, with a recent Datafolha survey showing only 8% approving of her. Rousseff’s political woes have raised the prospect of impeachment proceedings and brought out hundreds of thousands of protestors across the country on Sunday, many chanting “Dilma Out.”

Rapid Decline in Brazilians' Assessment of EconomyBrazil has experienced a major economic downturn over the past five years, since President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva left office. In 2010, Brazil was enjoying 7.6% GDP growth, making it the world’s seventh largest economy.

In 2010, 62% of Brazilians described the economic situation in their country as good. But as growth diminished more rapidly in recent years, public assessment of the economic health of the nation also has fallen sharply, by 27 percentage points from 2013 to 2014. In addition, a 2014 Pew Research Center survey found that 63% of Brazilians disapproved of the way Rousseff was handling the economy.

With a projected contraction in Brazil’s economy over the next 12 months, things look even bleaker for this year. Only 13% of those surveyed by Pew Research last spring say economic conditions are good. From 2013 to 2015, Brazilians’ perception of their economy fell by a staggering 46 percentage points. Read More

Topics: Economic Recession, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Foreign News, Latin America, Non-U.S. Political Leaders, World Economies

Aug 17, 2015 10:54 am

Analysis shows fewer Hispanic young adults ‘disconnected’ from school, jobs

Near the end of the Great Recession, about one-in-five Hispanics ages 18 and 19 were “disconnected youth” – neither working nor going to school. But, helped by the economic recovery, the share of these young Hispanic adults not working or enrolled in school dropped from 21% in 2009 to a historic low of 16% by 2014, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of federal government data.

Share of Hispanic Youth Detached From School and Work on the DeclineOnly among Hispanics has the share of detached youth dropped below recession-era levels. By comparison, 19% of blacks of the same age were neither working nor in school in 2014, a level that has not changed much over the past decade, even during the recession. Among whites of this age, the share of detached young adults (12%) remained above pre-recession levels.

One reason for this decline is that the unemployment rate for Hispanic youth has dropped more quickly than for young whites and blacks in recent years. From 2010 to 2014, the unemployment rate dropped from 32% to 19% among Hispanics ages 16 to 19, a steeper decline than among whites. Another reason for the decline is that more Hispanics than ever are enrolled in school. Among Hispanics, the high school dropout rate is at a record low, while at the same time college enrollment gains have outpaced other groups.

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Topics: Education, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Teens and Youth, Work and Employment

Aug 17, 2015 7:00 am

For teens, phone calls are reserved for closer relationships

Marc Romanelli/Getty Images
Marc Romanelli/Getty Images

Texting is the most common and frequent way that teens communicate with all types of friends, from the ones they’ve just met to more established relationships. But teens haven’t abandoned phone calling. A recent Pew Research Center survey on teens, technology and friendship finds that phone calls are an important way that teens connect, particularly with their closest friends.

For Many Teens, Phone Number for Texting Is the First Thing They Share With New FriendsThe survey asked teens to rank the types of contact information they would most commonly share with a new friend. About half of teens (52%) told us that a phone number for calling is one of the first three types of information they would share, but only 9% say this is the first contact information they would exchange. By comparison, 80% of teens share their phone number for texting with a new friend, and 54% say it is the first thing they would give to a new friend.

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Topics: Internet Activities, Mobile, Social Networking, Teens and Technology, Texting

Aug 14, 2015 10:50 am

People in U.S., Latin America approve of renewing U.S. ties with Cuba

In ceremonies today led by Secretary of State John Kerry, the flag was raised at the U.S. Embassy in Havana for the first time since 1961, signifying a re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Although this renewal has its critics, people across five Latin American nations surveyed in spring of this year approve of the neighboring countries restoring relations, and the American public also overwhelmingly supports this approach.

Strong Support for U.S.-Cuba RelationsNearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they approve of the U.S. renewing ties with Cuba. A similar median of 77% across five Latin American countries surveyed (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela) approve of this action. This includes 79% of Chileans, 78% of Argentines and 77% of Venezuelans. Brazilians (67% approve) and Mexicans (54%) are actually more skeptical of the deal than Americans, whose support has grown 10 percentage points since earlier this year.

Both Americans and Latin Americans also support the U.S. ending its trade embargo against Cuba. Roughly three-quarters in the U.S. (72%) and in Latin America (median of 76%) favor ending the embargo. Only in Mexico (55% support) is there less support for such an action.

Furthermore, a similar share of people in Latin America and the U.S. think that over the next several years, Cuba will embrace democracy. However, far fewer Americans and Latin Americans hold this view compared with those favoring renewed ties. And Americans are far more likely to believe there will not be any great change as far as democracy in Cuba is concerned. Read More

Topics: Democracy, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Latin America, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism

Aug 14, 2015 7:00 am

Why the former USSR has far fewer men than women

Global Gender Ratios in 2015
Where Women Outnumber Men in 2015In our map above, countries depicted in the darkest blues have far fewer men than women – and the former Soviet Union stands out from the rest of the world.

This region has been predominantly female since at least World War II, when many Soviet men died in battle or left the country to fight. In 1950, there were just 76.6 men per 100 women in the territory that is now Russia. That number rose steadily in subsequent decades, climbing to 88.4 by 1995 before declining again.

The gender ratio in Russia is currently 86.8 men per 100 women, and the ratios in Latvia (84.8), Ukraine (86.3), Armenia (86.5), Belarus (86.8) and other former Soviet nations are similarly low.

(By contrast, the ratio in the U.S. is 98.3 men per 100 women, and the global ratio is 101.8 men per 100 women, according to 2015 United Nations data. The U.S. has been more female than male since at least 1950, while the global population first became majority male around 1960.)

So what are the factors that set the former Soviet bloc apart?

The population in Russia and the former USSR as a whole is older than that of the world. Most of these nations, including the most populous, also have low fertility rates compared with the global average. This skews the population’s gender ratio because older people are more likely to be female, while more younger people are male. Read More

Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, Demographics, Gender, Population Geography, Population Trends, Russia

Aug 13, 2015 7:00 am

70 years after WWII, the Holocaust is still very important to American Jews

Six memorial candles are lit to remember the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust during a 70th anniversary remembrance in Denver of the Allied liberation of concentration camps. Credit: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post
Six memorial candles lit in honor of the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust, part of a remembrance in Denver of the 70th anniversary of the Allied liberation of the concentration camps in Europe. Credit: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Seven decades after the end of World War II, most American Jews say remembering the Holocaust is essential to what being Jewish means to them, personally.

About 6 million European Jews (roughly two-thirds of the continent’s Jewish population at the time) were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, which began in about 1941 and ended in May 1945 when Germany was defeated by the Allied Powers. The war came to a close in August 1945 when the Japanese surrendered.

What Does It Mean to Be Jewish?

About three-quarters (73%) of American Jews say remembering the Holocaust is an essential part of being Jewish, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey. Those surveyed also were asked about whether other aspects of Jewish life (such as observing Jewish law or being part of a Jewish community) were important to their Jewish identity.  Only one of these eight other options, “leading an ethical life,” ranked almost as highly (69%) as “remembering the Holocaust.”

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Topics: Jews and Judaism, Wars and International Conflicts

Aug 11, 2015 7:00 am

Amid debate over labeling GM foods, most Americans believe they’re unsafe

Views on Safety of GMOs by Key DemographicsThe debate over the safety of genetically modified foods has put state lawmakers who favor requiring labeling of these products at odds with counterparts in Congress who oppose it. Americans’ concerns about GM foods are providing the backdrop: A majority of them believe such foods are generally unsafe to eat.

The House last month passed a bill that would nullify any state laws that require labeling, dealing a blow to state lawmakers and advocates who support such a move. A similar bill has yet to be introduced in the Senate. This comes after three states – Vermont, Connecticut and Maine – passed legislation this year making GM food labeling mandatory; dozens of other states are exploring similar bills on the issue.

As this issue plays out on Capitol Hill, polls show that a majority of Americans support labeling genetically modified foods, and half check for GM food labels while shopping.

More than half (57%) of U.S. adults believe that GM foods are generally unsafe to eat, while 37% say these foods are safe, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Women are more likely than men to view GM foods as unsafe (65% vs. 49%). Opinions also vary by race and ethnicity; blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to say that genetically modified foods are generally unsafe to eat.
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Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Science and Innovation