Dec 10, 2015 7:00 am

5 takeaways about the American middle class

Americans in middle-income households have lost significant ground since 1970, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

The middle class has long been the country’s economic majority, but our new analysis finds that’s no longer true. Meanwhile, the middle class has fallen further behind upper-income households financially, which now hold a larger share of aggregate household income than ever before in the 44-year period examined.

Share of U.S. adults living in the middle-income households is shrinking

We define middle-income households as those whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the U.S. median household income after incomes have been adjusted for household size. This amounts to about $42,000 to $126,000 annually, in 2014 dollars and for a household of three. Lower-income households have incomes less than two-thirds of the median, while upper-income households have incomes that are more than double the median. (Related: Are you in the American middle class? Find out with our income calculator.)

Here are five key takeaways from the report:

1Middle-income Americans are no longer the nation’s economic majority. In early 2015, there were 120.8 million adults in middle-income households, matched in number by the 121.3 million adults who were in lower- and upper-income households combined.

This is the culmination of a long slide in which the share of adults in middle-income households has fallen from 61% in 1971 to 50% in 2015. Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Socioeconomic Class

Dec 9, 2015 3:50 pm

Are you in the American middle class? Find out with our income calculator

About half of American adults – 120.8 million out of 242.1 million – live in middle-income households as of early 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. In percentage terms, 50% of adults now live in middle-income households, 29% in lower-income households, and 21% in upper-income households.

Our new calculator below lets you find out which group you are in – first compared with all American adults and then compared with other adults similar to you in education, age, race or ethnicity, and marital status:

The calculator takes your household income and adjusts it for the size of your household. The income is revised upward for households that are below average in size and downward for those that are above average. This way, each household’s income is made equivalent to the income of a three-person household (the whole number nearest to the average size of a U.S. household, which was 2.5 in 2015). Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Socioeconomic Class

Dec 8, 2015 9:00 am

One-fifth of Americans report going online ‘almost constantly’

As smartphones and other mobile devices have become more widespread, some 21% of Americans now report that they go online “almost constantly,” according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Overall, 73% of Americans go online on a daily basis. Along with the 21% who go online almost constantly, 42% go online several times a day and 10% go online about once a day. Some 13% go online several times a week or less often. And in this survey, 13% of adults say they do not use the internet at all.

Three-quarters of Americans go online at least daily

Younger adults are in the vanguard of the constantly connected: Fully 36% of 18- to 29-year-olds go online almost constantly and 50% go online multiple times per day. By comparison, just 6% of those 65 and older go online almost constantly (and just 24% go online multiple times per day). Read More

Topics: Internet Activities

Dec 7, 2015 6:11 pm

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

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 in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) 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 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 – roughly 23% 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. Read More

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

Dec 7, 2015 10:16 am

As more money flows into campaigns, Americans worry about its influence

FT_15.12.03_campaignFinance_concernAmericans of different political persuasions may not agree on much, but one thing they do agree on is that money has a greater – and mostly negative – influence on politics than ever before. Among liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, large majorities favor limits on campaign spending and say the high cost of campaigning discourages many good candidates from running for president.

While perceptions of influence are subjective, there’s clearly more money in the U.S. political system now than at any time since the campaign finance reforms of the 1970s, according to a new Pew Research Center data analysis of contributions and spending. That’s the case whether you look at presidential, House or Senate elections. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns

Dec 4, 2015 12:28 pm

How Pew Research Center studied the Washington press corps

Jesse Holcomb
Jesse Holcomb, Associate Director of Research, Pew Research Center

The news industry has been particularly vulnerable to the disruptions of the digital age and the same is true for one of its most visible components – the Washington press corps. Pew Research Center first studied the changes starting to take place in Washington-based journalism in a 2009 report. Now, a new report provides an update on just how much has changed since then. The new analysis also takes a close look at coverage of Washington by reporters at daily newspapers for their communities back home.

Jesse Holcomb, associate director of research at the Center, explains how the new report was put together.

This report brings together multiple sources of data to show how journalism in and about Washington has changed in recent years. How did you decide what to use?  

There’s no single definitive database that accounts for every journalist or news organization based in Washington, D.C. But there are a number of data sources – accreditation lists, directories and association memberships – that, when examined together, offer robust data on the mix of reporters here and how those numbers have changed over time. Read More

Topics: Federal Government, News Media Sectors, News Sources, Newspapers, Research Methods

Dec 4, 2015 10:00 am

The link between a college education and a lasting marriage

College-educated women are more likely to have long-lasting marriagesAbout half of first marriages in the U.S. are likely to survive at least 20 years, according to government estimates. But for one demographic group, marriages last longer than most: College-educated women have an almost eight-in-ten chance of still being married after two decades.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics estimate that 78% of college-educated women who married for the first time between 2006 and 2010 could expect their marriages to last at least 20 years. But among women who have a high school education or less, the share is only 40%.

The probability of a lasting first marriage is derived from marital history data from the National Survey of Family Growth, a nationally representative sample of women and men who were ages 15 to 44 between 2006 and 2010. Estimates are based on an approach similar to that used to determine life expectancy and assume that marriage patterns in the future will follow patterns today. The findings refer only to opposite-sex marriages; the sample size was too small to analyze same-sex marriages. Read More

Topics: Educational Attainment, Marriage and Divorce, Race and Ethnicity

Dec 3, 2015 1:55 pm

5 key takeaways about today’s Washington press corps

The face of the Washington press corps has changed markedly in recent years, transformed by an increase in the number of journalists working for “niche” publications and digital startups, while the ranks of reporters working for general interest local newspapers have continued to decline. A new Pew Research Center report – updating findings from a 2009 study of the Washington press corps – tracks the changes and explores the implications for local communities.

Here are five key takeaways from the report:

1Credentialed reporters working for trade publications, specialty outlets and other niche news sources now outnumber daily newspaper reporters, according to the U.S. Senate Press Gallery. As recently as the late 1990s, daily newspaper staff outnumbered specialty journalists by more than two to one.

2There has been a sharp increase in the number of journalists working for digital news startups. In 2009, fewer than three dozen journalists working for digital-native outlets were accredited to the Press Gallery. By 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, that number had risen to more than 130 – about a fourfold increase. This group of reporters is roughly split between those working for broad-interest publications such as The Huffington Post or Buzzfeed, and those working for niche outlets such as Kaiser Health News or Inside Higher Ed. Read More

Topics: Digital Media, Federal Government, News Media Sectors, News Media Trends, Newspapers

Dec 2, 2015 10:00 am

Religious groups’ policies on transgender members vary widely

Where some religious groups stand on transgender inclusionReligious institutions are starting to formally address the participation of transgender people in their congregations, much as they have with the issue of accepting homosexuals.

Just recently, the Union for Reform Judaism approved a far-reaching resolution on the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people, affirming its “commitment to the full equality, inclusion and acceptance of people of all gender identities and gender expressions.”

In addition to Reform Judaism, the United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist and Episcopal churches each have issued specific statements saying that transgender people should be fully included in the life of the church and that they can be ordained as ministers. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Gender, Religion and Society

Dec 2, 2015 7:00 am

Women, more than men, say climate change will harm them personally

Around the world, men and women express similar levels of concern about climate change. But when it comes to people who live in wealthier nations, a gender gap emerges.

In seven of 11 developed nations we surveyed this spring – from the U.S. and Canada to Germany and South Korea – women are more likely to consider climate change a serious problem, be concerned it will harm them personally and say that major lifestyle changes are needed to solve the problem.

Gender gap on climate change in many wealthy nations

For example, when asked how serious a problem climate change is, women in the U.S. are significantly more likely than American men (by a margin of 17 percentage points) to say it’s a somewhat or very serious problem. Canadian and Australian women’s concern also outweighs that of men in their respective countries, by 13 points and 12 points, respectively. Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Gender