Apr 27, 2018 7:00 am

About one-third of U.S. children are living with an unmarried parent

Erin Meredith of Austin, Texas, a single mother of two, paints with her daughter. The share of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968. (Ilana Panich-Linsman for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Erin Meredith of Austin, Texas, a single mother of two, paints with her daughter. The share of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968. (Ilana Panich-Linsman for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The share of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968, jumping from 13% to 32% in 2017. That trend has been accompanied by a drop in the share of children living with two married parents, down from 85% in 1968 to 65%. Some 3% of children are not living with any parents, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Most children in unmarried parent households are living with a solo mother, but a growing share are living with cohabiting parents. Overall, about one-in-five children (21%) are living with a solo mother, up from 12% in 1968. Some 7% are living with cohabiting parents, about double the share that were doing so in 1997 (the first year for which census data on cohabitation are available). The share of children living with a solo father has ticked up, and stands at 4%, up from 1% in 1968. (In this analysis, children are classified based on the parent with whom they live most of the time. Children who split their time equally between households are classified based on which household they were in at the time of the data collection.)

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Topics: Teens and Youth, Parenthood, Household and Family Structure

Apr 26, 2018 3:31 pm

Key findings on Americans’ views of the U.S. political system and democracy

Volunteers carry an American flag down Constitution Avenue during the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Volunteers carry an American flag down Constitution Avenue during the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The strength and stability of democracy has become a subject of intense debate in the United States and around the world. But how do Americans feel about their own democracy? As part of a year-long effort to study “Facts, Trust and Democracy” Pew Research Center has conducted a major survey of public views of the U.S. political system and American democracy. The survey finds that while Americans are in broad agreement on important ideals relating to democracy in the U.S., they think the nation is falling short in realizing many of these ideals.

Here are some of the survey’s other major findings:

1Democracy seen as working well, but most want “significant” changes. About six-in-ten Americans (58%) say democracy is working well in the U.S., though just 18% say it is working very well. At the same time, a majority supports making sweeping changes to the political system: 61% say “significant changes” are needed in the fundamental “design and structure” of the U.S. government to make it work in current times.

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Topics: Trust, Facts and Democracy, Democracy, Political Attitudes and Values

Apr 26, 2018 11:03 am

6 charts on how Germans and Americans view one another

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with U.S. President Donald Trump in Taormina, Italy, on May 2017. (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with U.S. President Donald Trump in Taormina, Italy, in May 2017. (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Washington this week to meet with President Donald Trump at a moment of tension in the transatlantic alliance. Discussions between the two leaders will likely feature some significant disagreements over issues such as the Iran nuclear deal, trade, climate change and military spending.

The German and American publics also have some different views about the current state of affairs between their two countries. Below are six charts on how Germans and Americans see one another and how German attitudes toward the United States have shifted in the Trump era.

1Americans think U.S.-German relations are in good shape, but Germans disagree. Roughly two-thirds of Americans say relations are good, compared with just 42% of Germans, according to polling conducted by Pew Research Center in the U.S. and by the Körber-Stiftung in Germany.

2German attitudes toward the U.S. have turned sharply negative in the Trump era. In Germany, attitudes toward the U.S. have followed a clear pattern over the past decade and a half. During the course of President George W. Bush’s two terms in office, confidence in his leadership and overall ratings of the U.S. declined among Germans amid strong opposition to key elements of Bush’s foreign policy. President Barack Obama, in contrast, was extremely well-regarded in Germany (although his ratings did decline somewhat following the National Security Agency eavesdropping scandal), and his presidency coincided with a rebound in America’s overall image. However, as our 2017 Global Attitudes Survey found, German views toward the U.S. have dropped once again since Trump’s election. Only 11% of Germans expressed confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs in 2017, down from 86% for Obama in 2016. And just 35% said in 2017 that they had a favorable opinion of the U.S., compared with 57% the year before.

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Topics: Non-U.S. Political Leaders, Global Balance of Power, International Governments and Institutions, Europe, North America, Donald Trump

Apr 25, 2018 3:03 pm

7 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2018

(Laurentiu Garofeanu/Barcroft USA/Barcoft Media via Getty Images)
(Laurentiu Garofeanu/Barcroft USA/Barcoft Media via Getty Images)

More than 2,000 demographers are in Denver this week for the Population Association of America’s annual meeting, where they will discuss topics ranging from the changing family to international migration flows. Ahead of the meeting, here are some important recent demographic findings from Pew Research Center:

1Millennials are projected to outnumber Baby Boomers next year. Numbering 71 million in 2016, Millennials in the United States are approaching Baby Boomers (74 million) in population and are projected to surpass them as the nation’s largest living adult generation in 2019. The Millennial generation, defined as Americans born from 1981 to 1996, corresponds to adults ages 22 to 37 in 2018.

Millennials are already the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, making up 35% of the total. (They surpassed Generation X in 2016.) Although Boomers formed the majority of the labor force in the early and mid-1980s, they made up just 25% of the total in 2017, as many older members of this generation reached retirement age.

In the political arena, the number of Millennials who are eligible to vote in the U.S. is approaching that of Boomers. As of November 2016, Millennials formed 27% of the voting-eligible population, while Boomers made up 31%. However, turnout rates in the 2016 election were lower for Millennials than Boomers (51% vs. 69%), meaning that Millennials accounted for a lower share of votes cast than their proportion of the electorate.

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Topics: Population Trends, Demographics

Apr 25, 2018 10:05 am

Key findings about Americans’ belief in God

Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. (Lucas Schifres/Getty Images)
(Lucas Schifres/Getty Images)

In recent years, the share of American adults who do not affiliate with a religious group has risen dramatically. In spite of this trend, the overwhelming majority of Americans, including a majority of the religiously unaffiliated – those who describe themselves, religiously, as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular” – say they believe in God or a higher power, according a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in December of 2017. At the same time, only a slim majority of Americans now believe in the God of the Bible and roughly one-in-ten U.S. adults don’t believe in any higher power or spiritual force.

Here are six key takeaways from the report:

1 The vast majority of Americans (90%) believe in some kind of higher power, with 56% professing faith in God as described in the Bible and another 33% saying they believe in another type of higher power or spiritual force. Only one-in-ten Americans say they don’t believe in God or a higher power of any kind.

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Topics: Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Apr 23, 2018 10:03 am

Black Americans are more likely than overall public to be Christian, Protestant

Worshipers pray during services at a church in the historically black Protestant tradition in Florida in 2004. More than half of black Americans are classified as members of this tradition. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Worshipers pray during services at a church in the historically black Protestant tradition in Florida in 2004. More than half of black Americans are classified as members of this tradition. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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

Unlike Americans of European descent, most black Americans trace their ancestry to areas of Africa that, centuries ago, were not primarily part of the Christian world. Yet, today, a larger share of African Americans than whites say they are Christian. And, of all major U.S. racial and ethnic groups, blacks are the most likely to identify as Protestant.

Nearly eight-in-ten black Americans (79%) identify as Christian, according to Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study. By comparison, seven-in-ten Americans overall (71%) say they are Christian, including 70% of whites, 77% of Latinos and just 34% of Asian Americans. Meanwhile, about seven-in-ten blacks are Protestant, compared with less than half of the public overall (47%), including 48% of whites, roughly a quarter of Latinos and 17% of Asian Americans.

More than half of all black adults in the United States (53%) are classified as members of the historically black Protestant tradition. This includes those who tell us they belong to specific denominations such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church or the Church of God in Christ. The category also includes black Americans who do not identify with a specific denomination but instead say they associate with a broader Protestant group (e.g., “just Baptist” or “just Methodist” or “just Pentecostal”) that has a sizable number of historically black denominations.

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Topics: Religious Affiliation, Race and Ethnicity

Apr 20, 2018 12:00 pm

U.S. trade deficits with other countries can vary significantly, depending on how they’re measured

A worker welds at the Ford automotive plant in the northern province of Hai Duong, Vietnam, in January 2017. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)
A worker welds at the Ford automotive plant in the northern province of Hai Duong, Vietnam, in January 2017. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has frequently criticized America’s trade deficit with China, and in recent weeks he has threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese products as a means of reducing that imbalance.

Trump’s emphasis on Beijing is hardly surprising: The United States runs a far larger merchandise trade deficit with China than with any other nation. But when the trade deficit is measured in other ways – including on a per capita basis – the U.S. actually has a larger imbalance with countries other than China.

In 2017, the U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China was $375.2 billion, up from $367.3 billion in 2015, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. (When trade in services is included, the imbalance shrinks a bit. Trump, however, has mainly directed his criticism at the deficit in autos, electronics and other such goods, reflecting his concern about the fate of the U.S. manufacturing economy.)

The merchandise trade deficit with Mexico, another country often singled out by Trump, was $71.1 billion last year – up $10.9 billion from 2015. The imbalance with Japan was $68.8 billion, relatively unchanged. And with Germany it was $64.3 billion, a decline of $10.6 billion from 2015.

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Topics: Globalization and Trade, Global Balance of Power, World Economies

Apr 19, 2018 1:02 pm

Q&A: How Pew Research Center identified bots on Twitter

Bots are a part of life on Twitter, but determining just how widespread they are can be tricky.

A recent Pew Research Center study explored the role bots play in sharing links on Twitter. The study examined 1.2 million tweeted links – collected over the summer of 2017 – to measure how many came from suspected bot accounts. The result: Around two-thirds (66%) of the tweeted links the Center examined were shared by suspected bots, or automated accounts that can generate or distribute content without direct human oversight.

Like any study of bots on Twitter, the analysis first needed to answer a fundamental question: Which accounts are bots and which accounts aren’t? In this Q&A, Stefan Wojcik, a computational social scientist at the Center and one of the report’s authors, explains how he and his colleagues navigated this question. You can also watch this video explainer with Wojcik to hear more about the methodology of the study.

How can you determine if a Twitter account is a person or a bot?

Stefan Wojcik, computational social scientist at Pew Research Center
Stefan Wojcik, Pew Research Center computational social scientist

It’s a challenge. It’s a burgeoning field and there is always a degree of uncertainty. But the best way is to look at what a particular account is doing. What kind of content is it sharing? Do the tweets convey human-sounding messages? What other accounts does it follow? Has the account tweeted every five minutes for its whole lifespan?

You can come up with a list of characteristics like these to try to determine whether an account is a bot or not. Of course, it would be far too time-consuming to try to observe those characteristics for 140,000 different Twitter accounts (roughly the number of accounts included in the study). A more practical approach is to come up with a reasonably large dataset of accounts that are bots and not bots, and then use a machine learning system to “learn” the patterns that characterize bot and human accounts. With those patterns in hand, you can then use them to classify a much larger number of accounts.

We investigated different machine learning systems that have been tested publicly. Based on its successful application in past research and our own testing, we selected a system called Botometer. Read More

Topics: Online Communities, Social Media, Internet Activities, Research Methods

Apr 18, 2018 11:01 am

A majority of U.S. teens fear a shooting could happen at their school, and most parents share their concern

(Comstock via Getty)
(Comstock via Getty)

In the aftermath of the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, a majority of American teens say they are very or somewhat worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school – and most parents of teens share that concern, according to new Pew Research Center surveys of teens ages 13 to 17 and parents with children in the same age range.

Meanwhile, when it comes to what can be done to prevent this kind of violence, far more teens view proposals focused on mental illness, assault-style weapon bans and the use of metal detectors in schools as potentially effective than say the same about allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns in schools.

The surveys of teens and parents were conducted in March and April 2018, following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – one of the deadliest mass school shootings in U.S. history. Seventeen people were killed in the attack and more than a dozen others were injured. The surveys also come as the nation prepares to mark the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Overall, 57% of teens say they are worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school, with one-in-four saying they are very worried. About three-in-ten (29%) say they are not too worried about this, and just 13% say they are not at all worried.

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Topics: Teens and Youth, Education, Violence and Society

Apr 16, 2018 10:02 am

Asylum claims in Canada reached highest level in decades in 2017

Asylum seekers wait to cross the border into Canada near Champlain, New York, in August 2017. (Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images)
Asylum seekers wait to cross the border into Canada near Champlain, New York, in August 2017. (Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images)

More people sought asylum in Canada in 2017 than at any point in at least a quarter-century, due in part to a spike in applications from Haitians entering the country from the United States, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Canadian government data.

The 50,420 asylum applications Canada received in 2017 were more than double the 23,930 it received in 2016. Applications that meet basic eligibility requirements, such as having no serious criminal convictions, are referred to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board for further review; the vast majority of applications in 2017 received this referral.

Of the referred cases in 2017, asylum seekers from Haiti (8,286) had the most applications, followed by Nigeria (5,575) and Turkey (2,197). No country saw a bigger increase in referred applications from 2016 to 2017 than Haiti, which had only 631 referred applications in 2016. As a result, Haiti accounted for almost a third (32%) of Canada’s overall increase in referred asylum claims in 2017.

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Topics: Global Migration and Demography, Migration, North America, Immigration