May 26, 2017 7:22 am

Few Americans support cuts to most government programs, including Medicaid

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney discusses the Trump administration's proposed federal budget for fiscal 2018 at a news conference Tuesday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney discusses the Trump administration’s proposed federal budget for fiscal 2018 at a news conference Tuesday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s first budget request to Congress would make deep cuts to government programs, including Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income adults and children. Recent polls have found little public support for cuts to Medicaid, but that may not be a surprise: Americans tend not to favor budget cuts when asked about specific areas being affected.

In April, only 12% of U.S. adults said they wanted to see the president and Congress decrease spending for Medicaid, according to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Four-in-ten said they preferred to increase Medicaid spending, while 47% said they wanted funding levels to be kept about the same.

A March survey by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research produced similar results. About two-in-ten adults (21%) said they favored reducing federal funding for the program, including 10% who held that view strongly. By comparison, 64% said they opposed reducing funding, including 45% who strongly opposed it. (Another 14% said they neither favored nor opposed cutting Medicaid spending.)

Public reluctance to cut federal funding is not limited to Medicaid. In an April Pew Research Center survey, majorities in both political parties said they favored maintaining or increasing spending in nearly all of the 14 specific budget areas that respondents were asked about. The sole area in which a majority of either party favored decreasing spending was “economic assistance to needy people around the world.” Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 56% said they would reduce such funding. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, the share who said this was 13%.

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Topics: Economic Policy, Congress, U.S. Political Parties, Political Issue Priorities, Political Polarization

May 26, 2017 7:00 am

Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world

People at Djemaa el-Fna Square, late afternoon sun
People at Djemaa el-Fna Square, late afternoon sun

Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – say they know little or nothing about Islam.

Here are answers to some key questions about Muslims, compiled from several Pew Research Center reports published in recent years:

How many Muslims are there? Where do they live?

There were 1.8 billion Muslims in the world as of 2015 – roughly 24% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.

Although many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region, where the religion originated in the seventh century, are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims. A majority of the Muslims globally (62%) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey.

Indonesia is currently the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, but Pew Research Center projects that India will have that distinction by the year 2050 (while remaining a majority-Hindu country), with more than 300 million Muslims.

The Muslim population in Europe also is growing; we project 10% of all Europeans will be Muslims by 2050.  Read More

Topics: Muslim-Western Relations, Religion and Society, Population Trends, Population Geography, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Muslims and Islam, Muslim Americans

May 25, 2017 1:21 pm

A third of Americans live in a household with three or more smartphones

For the first time, more than half of all households in the U.S. contain a cellphone but not a landline telephone, according to a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The growing prevalence of cellphones comes as the typical American household now contains a wide range of connected devices.

Some 84% of American households contain at least one smartphone, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in fall 2016. Desktop and laptop computers are nearly as common – 80% of households contain at least one of these devices. Tablet computer ownership is somewhat less widespread, with 68% of households containing at least one tablet. And 39% of households contain at least one streaming media device, such as an Apple TV, Roku or Google Chromecast.

Many American households have multiple devices – especially smartphones. A third of American households have three or more smartphones, compared with 23% that have three or more desktops, 17% that have three or more tablets and only 7% that have three or more streaming media devices.

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Topics: Lifestyle, Household and Family Structure, Technology Adoption, Mobile

May 25, 2017 7:01 am

Fewer refugees arrive in U.S., with declines in 46 states

The number of refugees entering the United States each month has declined sharply so far in fiscal 2017, falling from 9,945 in October 2016 to 3,316 in April 2017, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. State Department data. All but four states reported declines in monthly arrivals.

Nationwide, the number of refugee arrivals decreased in each of the first five months of the fiscal year, the longest consecutive monthly decline on record (monthly data before 2000 are not available). In April, however, the number of arriving refugees rose to 3,316, compared with 2,070 in March.  Read More

Topics: Immigration, Wars and International Conflicts, Immigration Trends, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Migration

May 24, 2017 2:03 pm

Majorities in Europe, North America worried about Islamic extremism

Even before this week’s terrorist bombing at a pop concert in Manchester, England, people across Europe and in the U.S. and Canada had pervasive concerns about the threat of extremism in their countries. Across 12 countries surveyed from February through April by Pew Research Center, majorities said they were at least somewhat concerned about extremism in the name of Islam in their countries, including 79% who said this in the UK itself. And across the 10 EU countries surveyed, a median of 79% were concerned about Islamic extremism, while only 21% were not concerned.

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Topics: Europe, Terrorism, Religious Extremism, North America, Muslims and Islam, Violence and Society

May 22, 2017 6:59 am

Most in former Yugoslavia favor multicultural society, although some tensions remain

The former Yugoslavia spent much of the 1990s in turmoil, with a series of wars taking place amid the country’s breakup into its present-day states – each of which has a distinct ethnic and religious makeup.

But a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in the three largest former Yugoslav republics finds that, in general, most people in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia seem willing to share their societies with ethnic and religious groups different from their own – quite a change from the situation during the Yugoslav Wars. At the same time, some underlying signs of tension and distrust linger.

The survey, conducted as part of a broader study of religion in Central and Eastern Europe, finds that Bosnia, the smallest of the three countries in population and in size, is also the most religiously diverse, with roughly half of adults identifying as Muslim and about one-third as Orthodox Christian. Croatia and Serbia each have a single dominant religion: More than eight-in-ten adults identify as Catholic and Orthodox, respectively.

While religious affiliations differ by country, large majorities in all three say a multicultural society is better than a religiously and ethnically homogeneous one. Nearly three-quarters of adults in Bosnia (73%) and about two-thirds in Serbia (66%) and Croatia (65%) agree that “it is better for us if society consists of people from different nationalities, religions and cultures.” Of the 18 countries surveyed in the region, these are the three where this view is most widespread; in several other countries, the prevailing opinion is that it is better for society if there is less religious and ethnic diversity. Read More

Topics: Eastern Europe, Religion and Society, Family and Relationships, Religious Affiliation, Christians and Christianity, National and Cultural Identity, Muslims and Islam

May 19, 2017 11:08 am

Digital gap between rural and nonrural America persists

This is the third in a series of posts about how different demographic groups in the U.S. have fared in the digital age.

Rural Americans have made large gains in adopting digital technology in recent years, but they remain less likely than nonrural adults to have home broadband, smartphones and other devices.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of rural Americans say they have a broadband internet connection at home, up from about a third (35%) in 2007, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in fall 2016. Rural Americans are now 10 percentage points less likely than Americans overall to have home broadband; in 2007, there was a 16-point gap between rural Americans (35%) and all U.S. adults (51%) on this question.  Read More

Topics: Population Geography, Technology Adoption, Digital Divide, Broadband, Future of the Internet, Mobile

May 18, 2017 12:05 pm

In U.S. metro areas, huge variation in intermarriage rates

One-in-six newlyweds (17%) were married to someone of a different race or ethnicity in 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. This represents a more than fivefold increase from 3% in 1967, the year in which the Supreme Court ruled in the Loving v. Virginia decision that interracial marriages were legal.

While intermarriage is generally more common in metropolitan areas than in more rural non-metro areas (18% of newlyweds vs. 11%), there is tremendous variation within metro areas in the shares of newlyweds who have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity.

Interactive: Which U.S. metro areas have the largest and smallest shares of intermarried newlyweds?


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Topics: Marriage and Divorce, Race and Ethnicity, Population Geography, Intermarriage

May 18, 2017 6:59 am

More foreign grads of U.S. colleges are staying in the country to work

A growing number of high-skilled foreign workers find jobs in the United States under a program known as Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows foreign graduates from U.S. universities to work in the country on a temporary basis. The federal government approved nearly 700,000 OPT applications in fiscal years 2008 through 2014, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement data received through a Freedom of Information Act request. Data suggest that the total number of foreign graduates using OPT may continue to increase in subsequent years: More than 1 million foreign students studied at U.S. higher educational institutions in the 2015-16 school year, a record high.

U.S. college graduates with F-1 visas for foreign students may apply to OPT, and those approved may work in the U.S. for up to 12 months in their field of study. Foreign students majoring in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field may work in the U.S. for longer – up to 36 months. Unlike other U.S. visa programs, OPT has no cap on the number of foreign graduates who can participate. OPT is not subject to congressional oversight, though the program, which was created in 1947, can be changed by a U.S. president.

Here are some key facts about foreign college graduates working in the U.S. under the Optional Practical Training program.

1The annual number of OPT approvals rose from 28,497 in fiscal 2008 to 136,617 in fiscal 2014, a nearly fivefold increase. This growth happened after the Bush administration in 2008 extended the amount of time STEM graduates may work in the U.S. to a maximum of 29 months. About half of STEM graduates have extended their OPT program beyond the initial 12-month period in recent years. In 2016, the Obama administration again expanded the work period for STEM graduates to its current 36-month maximum.

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Topics: Education, Work and Employment, Educational Attainment, Science and Innovation, Migration

May 17, 2017 7:00 am

5 facts about U.S. political donations

Americans are increasingly likely to make political donations, with the share of adults who say they have donated directly to candidates doubling since 1992, according to data from American National Election Studies (ANES). Political donations from individuals represent a large share of campaign funding: In the 2016 election cycle, 71% of Hillary Clinton’s fundraising total and 40% of Donald Trump’s came from individual contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Here are five facts about political donations from individual donors:

1More Americans are making political donations. Americans are now more likely to contribute to political candidates and parties than they were two decades ago, according to surveys conducted as part of ANES. The share of Americans who say they have donated to an individual running for public office within the past year has doubled, increasing from 6% in 1992 to 12% in 2016. (The survey does not specify type of candidate.) The share of those who say they have donated to parties has also increased, rising from 4% to 9% across the same period, while the share making donations to outside groups working to elect or defeat a candidate – such as political action committees – has remained between 3% and 6%. Overall, the share of Americans who say they have donated to at least one of these groups within the past year has increased from 11% in 1992 to 15% in 2016.

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Topics: U.S. Political Parties, Elections and Campaigns