Oct 10, 2017 9:01 am

Women are more concerned than men about gender discrimination in tech industry

Women in the U.S. are substantially more likely than men to say gender discrimination is a major problem in the technology industry, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in July and August.

The survey comes amid public debate about underrepresentation and treatment of women – as well as racial and ethnic minorities – in the industry. Critics of Silicon Valley have cited high-profile cases as evidence that the industry has fostered a hostile workplace culture. For their part, tech companies point to their commitment to increasing workforce diversity, even as some employees claim the industry is increasingly hostile to white males.

The new survey finds that roughly three-quarters of Americans (73%) say discrimination against women is a problem in the tech industry, with 37% citing it as a major problem and an equal share citing it as a minor one. But 44% of women say it is a major problem, compared with just 29% of men. And roughly a third of men (32%) say discrimination against women is not a problem, compared with 17% of women.

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Topics: Gender, Work and Employment, Discrimination and Prejudice

Oct 9, 2017 9:35 am

Malala’s 2012 shooting came at time of high social hostilities in Pakistan

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai displays her medal during the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony in Oslo on Dec. 10, 2014. (Cornelius Poppe/AFP/Getty Images)
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai displays her medal during the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony in Oslo on Dec. 10, 2014. (Cornelius Poppe/AFP/Getty Images)

Five years ago today, Taliban gunmen tried to kill Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan in response to her advocacy of education for girls. The Taliban justified the attack by claiming the then-15-year-old’s education efforts were pro-Western and anti-Islamic.

The shooting came at a time when social hostilities involving religion were at a high point, both globally and in Pakistan. More recently, these hostilities in Pakistan have ebbed somewhat, though the country still faces many challenges in this area.

The type of attack carried out against Malala – along with other social hostilities involving religion – is captured in Pew Research Center’s annual coding of global religious restrictions. The Social Hostilities Index (SHI) is a 10-point index that measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations or groups in society, with a score of 10 indicating the highest level of hostilities.

In 2012, the year Malala was shot, social hostilities involving religion hit a six-year high worldwide as well as in Pakistan, which scored a 9.8 that year. During this time, Pakistanis accused of blasphemy were killed, according to the U.S. State Department’s annual report on religious freedom, and discrimination against the country’s religious minority groups, such as Shiite Muslims and Christians, remained prevalent.

In the years following the attack, social hostilities have declined somewhat in Pakistan. In 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, Pakistan is still in the “very high” category, but the SHI score has decreased to 7.2.

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Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Wars and International Conflicts, Religious Extremism, Restrictions on Religion, Violence and Society

Oct 9, 2017 7:06 am

Most Americans would favor policies to limit job and wage losses caused by automation

Americans are apprehensive about a future in which machines take on more of the work now done by humans, and most are supportive of policies aimed at cushioning the economic impact of widespread automation, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The vast majority of Americans (85%) say they would support restricting workforce automation to jobs that are dangerous or unhealthy for humans to do, including 47% who support the idea strongly, according to the survey, conducted May 1-15 among 4,135 U.S. adults. A smaller majority (62%) would favor giving consumers the option to pay extra to interact with a human, rather than a robot or computer, when purchasing products or services.

Most Americans also see a policy role for the federal government, specifically. Six-in-ten say they would favor a federal policy that would provide a guaranteed income for all citizens to meet basic needs if robots and computers become capable of doing many jobs now done by humans. And 58% say they would support a federal service program that would pay people to do tasks even if machines are able do the work faster and more cheaply.

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Topics: Work and Employment, Federal Government, Technology Adoption, Emerging Technology Impacts

Oct 6, 2017 2:30 pm

A closer look at who does (and doesn’t) pay U.S. income tax

As Congress and the White House pivot from trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act to overhauling the U.S. tax code, it’s helpful to take a closer look at how the tax system works presently in the context of its recent history.

Individual income taxes are the federal government’s single biggest revenue source. In fiscal year 2017, which ended Sept. 30, the individual income tax was expected to bring in nearly $1.66 trillion, or about 48% of all federal revenues, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The corporate income tax was estimated to raise another $324 billion, or 9% of total federal revenue.

The rest of the federal government’s revenue comes from a mix of sources, including Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, excise taxes such as those on alcohol and gasoline, unemployment-insurance taxes, customs duties and estate taxes. Spending that’s not covered by taxes is paid for by borrowing.

The individual income tax is designed to be progressive – those with higher incomes pay at higher rates. A Pew Research Center analysis of IRS data from 2015, the most recent available, shows that taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 or more paid well over half (58.8%) of federal income taxes, though they accounted for only 4.5% of all returns filed (6.8% of all taxable returns).

By contrast, taxpayers with incomes below $30,000 filed nearly 44% of all returns but paid just 1.4% of all federal income tax – in fact, two-thirds of the nearly 66 million returns filed by people in that lowest income tier owed no tax at all. (The IRS tax data used here are estimates based on a stratified probability sample of all returns.)

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Topics: Economic Policy, Income, Congress, Federal Government, Taxes

Oct 6, 2017 9:00 am

Americans deepest in poverty lost more ground in 2016

Although the overall U.S. poverty rate declined and incomes rose rapidly for the second straight year in 2016, many poor Americans fell deeper into poverty, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

The official poverty rate was 12.7% last year, close to its pre-Great Recession level (12.5% in 2007). This represents 40.6 million people in poverty. But categorizing people as below or above the poverty line is just one way of looking at economic well-being.

Among Americans below poverty line, share in severe poverty increasesThe share of the U.S. poor population in severe poverty – defined by the Census Bureau as those with family or individual incomes below half of their poverty threshold – reached its highest point in at least 20 years. It was 45.6% in 2016, up from 39.5% in 1996. (The share of the total U.S. population in severe poverty has declined over the past two years, alongside the overall poverty rate.)

Poverty thresholds, which are used by the Census Bureau to calculate the U.S. poverty rate, vary across families. The Census poverty thresholds in 2016 ranged from around $12,000 for a single-person family to around $25,000 for a family of four, and higher still for larger families. In comparison, the median household income for all households was $59,039 in 2016. For family households only, median household income was $75,062.

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Topics: National Economy, Poverty, Socioeconomic Class, Income Inequality

Oct 5, 2017 11:13 am

Key takeaways on Americans’ growing partisan divide over political values

For more than two decades, partisan polarization has been a powerful force in American politics. Today, the divide between Republicans and Democrats on fundamental values relating to the role of government, the environment, race, immigration and other issues dwarfs demographic, religious and education differences, according to surveys conducted by Pew Research Center in June and July.

What is striking is how little common ground there is among partisans today. Even on issues on which Republicans and Democrats have moved in the same direction – for example, growing numbers in both parties say homosexuality should be accepted rather than discouraged – the partisan differences are wider today than in the past.

Here are eight takeaways from the surveys:

1Across 10 political values Pew Research Center has tracked since 1994, there is now an average 36-percentage-point gap between Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and Democrats and Democratic leaners. In 1994, it was only 15 points. The partisan gap is much larger than the differences between the opinions of blacks and whites, men and women and other groups in society.

2Democrats have moved left on several issues. Over the past few years, some of the biggest changes in opinions among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have been on race and the role of government. There has been far less change in the views of Republicans and Republican leaners. As a result, the public’s views as a whole have moved in a more liberal direction.  Read More

Topics: Political Party Affiliation, Political Polarization

Oct 4, 2017 2:32 pm

Early coverage of the Trump presidency rarely included citizen voices

Several initiatives have emerged recently to help newsrooms connect with the public, build trust and do a better job of bringing citizens’ voices into the news. But the news media have a long way to go, according to new data from Pew Research Center. Just 5% of the more than 3,000 news stories studied during the first 100 days of the Trump presidency cited a member of the public, one of nine source types analyzed.

That figure compares with about three-quarters of stories that cited Trump or a member of his administration, 35% that cited another news outlet or journalist, 26% that cited a Republican member of Congress and 21% that cited a Democratic member. Stories that cited a member of the public also are less common than those that cite an expert or an interest group.

The low level of citizen voices held true for the five most prominent topic areas studied: the president’s political skills, immigration, appointments and nominations, U.S.-Russia relations, and health care. Across these five topics, which accounted for two-thirds of the coverage, citations of everyday Americans never rose above 7%.

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Topics: News Sources, Federal Government, News Media Ethics and Practices, News Content Analysis

Oct 4, 2017 1:02 pm

Key trends in social and digital news media

Digital news and social media continue to grow, with mobile devices rapidly becoming one of the most common ways for Americans to get news. As journalists and media practitioners gather for the annual Online News Association conference, here are 10 key findings from recent Pew Research Center reports about today’s digital news media landscape:

1The gap between television and online news consumption is narrowing. As of August 2017, 43% of Americans report often getting news online, a share just 7 percentage points lower than the 50% who often get news on television. The gap between the two news platforms was 19 points in early 2016, more than twice as large. The share of Americans who often get news from TV – whether from local TV news, nightly network TV news or cable news – has fallen, while the portion of Americans often getting news online – either from news websites/apps or social media – has grown.

2Use of mobile devices for news continues to grow. As of spring 2017, 45% of U.S. adults often get news on a mobile device, up from 36% in 2016 and 21% in 2013. The use of desktop or laptop computers for news remains steady, with 31% saying they often get news this way. In all, 85% of Americans ever get news on a mobile device, the same proportion who do so on a desktop computer. And, among those who get news both ways, mobile devices are increasingly preferred. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of U.S. adults who get news on both mobile and desktop prefer mobile, up from 56% in 2016.

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Topics: News Interest, News Sources, Digital Media, Newspapers, News Media Trends, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, Social Media

Oct 4, 2017 10:00 am

6 key findings on how Americans see the rise of automation

From driverless cars to a workplace staffed by robots, automation has the potential to reshape many facets of American life. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in May examines Americans’ attitudes about four emerging automation technologies: workplace automation, driverless cars, robot caregivers, and computer algorithms that evaluate and hire job applicants. Although Americans tend to have a positive view of technology overall, this survey finds that the continuing march of new technologies is causing them concern. Here are six key findings from the report:

1The public generally expresses more worry than enthusiasm about emerging automation technologies – especially when it comes to jobs. U.S. adults are roughly twice as likely to express worry (72%) as enthusiasm (33%) about a future in which robots and computers are capable of doing many jobs that are currently done by humans. They are also around three times as likely to express worry (67%) as enthusiasm (22%) about algorithms that make hiring decisions without any human involvement. By comparison, Americans tend to hold more balanced views toward driverless vehicles and robot caregivers.

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Topics: Work and Employment, Science and Innovation, Technology Adoption, Emerging Technology Impacts

Oct 3, 2017 10:02 am

Key facts about government-favored religion around the world

Throughout history, many kingdoms and nations have closely aligned themselves with religion by establishing official, government-endorsed faiths. Today, more than 80 countries either have an official religion or favor one or more religious groups over others, according to a new Pew Research Center report.

Countries that have an official religion, such as Iran or the United Kingdom, confer an official and legal status to one faith group, often granting that group benefits not available to other religions. Some nations do not officially endorse a faith, but instead favor or prefer a religion by granting financial, legal or other benefits to one (or occasionally more than one) religious group – as is the case with the Roman Catholic Church in Italy and Spain.

Countries without an official or preferred religion, such as the United States and Brazil, may have explicitly secular constitutions or basic laws that guarantee religious freedom, although this alone does not qualify them for this category. In addition to these laws, governments in these countries seek to avoid giving tangible benefits to one religious group over others (although they may evenhandedly provide benefits to many religious groups). Other countries, meanwhile, are either officially or unofficially hostile to religion, often making it very difficult for any faith group to practice freely.

Here are five key facts about countries that favor religious groups and those that do not:

1Roughly one-in-five (22%) of the world’s nations have an official state religion and a similar share (20%) have a preferred or favored faith tradition. The majority (53%) of the 199 countries we examined, including the U.S., have no official or preferred religion. Another 5% of the world’s nations are officially hostile to or extremely restrictive of religious institutions. Although a number of formerly communist countries now have official or preferred religions, all of the 10 countries that are hostile to or extremely restrictive of religion are either ruled by communist governments, such as China and Cuba, or are former communist states, such as Kazakhstan.

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Topics: Religion and Society, Religion and Government, Religious Affiliation, Restrictions on Religion