Mar 19, 2014 1:50 pm

Religious police found in nearly one-in-ten countries worldwide

Map_Religious_PoliceAs of 2012, at least 17 nations (9% worldwide) have police that enforce religious norms, according to a new Pew Research analysis of 2012 data. These actions are particularly common in the Middle East and North Africa, where roughly one-third of countries (35%) have police enforcing religious norms.

For example, in Saudi Arabia, where President Obama will meet with King Abdullah later this month, the Muttawa religious police (formally known as the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) impose a government-approved moral code on residents of the country. The Muttawa enforce strict segregation of the sexes, prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol, a ban on women driving and other social restrictions based on the government’s interpretation of Islam.

Earlier this month, Saudi religious police destroyed an ancient burial site in the southern city of al-Baha after claiming the graveyard was un-Islamic. And last month, they conducted anti-Valentine’s Day patrols, monitoring businesses that were selling chocolates, flowers and red or heart-shaped souvenirs.  Read More

Topics: Restrictions on Religion

Mar 19, 2014 11:38 am

Data Feed: Keystone XL divides Democrats, global views of online censorship, how to gain Twitter followers

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Keystone XL pipeline divides Democrats, Pew Research Center
Virginia is top beneficiary of political parties, Associated Press via Politico
2014 Illinois primary election results, Politico
Interactive: When women inherit their husbands’ Congressional seats, Washington Post
Why do Asian Americans mostly vote for Democrats? Washington Post
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approval rating drops in NYC; voters still optimistic, Quinnipiac
Waning influence? Tracking the ‘Unlobbyist’, Center for Responsive Politics

Why more skilled immigration would be good for American workers, too, Washington Post
Surprising attitudes toward energy costs, environmental impact, University of Michigan
The last decade was a historically awful time to enter job market, Brookings via WashPost
Where does the labor market stand?, Atlanta Fed
The re-emerging dominance of private mortgage insurers, Urban Institute

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Mar 18, 2014 2:05 pm

Michelle Obama to visit China, focus on education

FT_china-public-prioritiesFirst Lady Michelle Obama heads to China this week on a trip intended to focus on the importance of education, as well as a visit with Madame Peng, the spouse of China’s President Xi Jinping.

Given other economic and environmental problems, however, education is not high on the minds of the Chinese public. In our 2013 survey, only 24% in China said education was a very big problem, which lagged far behind those who identified rising prices (59%), corrupt officials (53%) and the gap between the rich and the poor (52%) as major problems. However, the issue has picked up steam since 2008, when only 11% said education was a very big problem.

Chinese parents have expressed concern about putting too much pressure on their children’s academic achievements. In a 2011 survey, 68% in China said parents put too much pressure on students, the only country surveyed where a majority said this.

The focus on education issues, and not the politically sensitive topic of human and women’s rights in China, has drawn some attention from scholars who point out that First Lady Hillary Clinton met some of these issues head on in her 1995 visit to Beijing. And in fact, the issue of China’s human rights record remains a concern held by people across the globe.

In spite of China’s growing economic and military power, its international image still lags behind that of the United States. And when the Pew Research Center surveyed people last year in 38 countries, asking them if China respects the personal freedoms of its people, a median of only 36% said yes.

Nevertheless, the issue of human rights does not resonate much with the American public. In a 2012 survey, only 48% of Americans saw China’s policy on human rights as a very serious problem, far behind concerns about economic issues between the two countries.

Topics: China, Education

Mar 18, 2014 11:32 am

Data Feed: Rising food prices, student learning, coffee-shop geography

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Does mentioning Hitler make Americans more willing to intervene in Ukraine? YouGov

Grocery bills surge as drought exacts high toll on crops, The Wall Street Journal
When living wage is minimum wage, FiveThirtyEight
Retirement confidence rises, but only among wealthier savers, CNN Money
Maps: The most, least income-segregated metro areas, The Atlantic Cities
Gender wage gap remains reality across racial/ethnic groups, IWPR

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Mar 18, 2014 7:00 am

In 2013, 59% of deported immigrants convicted of a crime

FT-2014-03-17-immigrants-crime-01President Obama ordered a review of immigration enforcement policies last week, following weeks of growing pressure from Democrats and Latino leaders, one of whom recently called him “deporter in chief.” As the number of unauthorized immigrants sent home nears two million under his administration, the president met with advocates late on Friday and acknowledged deportations should be more humane, citing concern over a broken immigration system that separates families.

About six-in-ten unauthorized immigrants deported in fiscal year 2013 had been convicted of a federal or state crime, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Of all those deported, 33% had committed at least one felony—crimes ranging from murder to failure to appear in court, or at least three misdemeanors. That means 152,000 immigrants were deported but did not have a criminal conviction. Another 95,000 were deported and had a criminal record that included no more than two misdemeanors.

Read More

Topics: Criminal Justice, Immigration

Mar 17, 2014 12:54 pm

Support for gay marriage up among black Protestants in last year, flat among white evangelicals

Views of same-sex marriage by religion
The long-standing tension between religious beliefs and the idea of same-sex marriage has been a key factor at play behind recently proposed bills in several states, most visibly in Arizona, aimed at protecting business owners who have religious objections to same-sex marriage. At the same time, however, new Pew Research Center data from 2014 show that just within the past year, growing shares of some Christian groups favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Read More

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Mar 17, 2014 12:11 pm

Data Feed: Live TV declines as video source, return of the ARM, why Ukraine isn’t fighting Russia

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Paul, Ryan, Clinton top poll of potential 2016 candidates, CNN/ORC
Less than half of voters say live TV is their main way to watch video, Public Opinion Strategies/Global Strategy Group
Iowa voters support medical marijuana by almost 5-t0-1, Quinnipiac U.
Wyoming leads in electing women to House over past quarter-century, U. of Minnesota

Adjustable-rate mortgages make a comeback, Wall Street Journal
Fewer small business loans going to black borrowers, Wall Street Journal
U.S. economic policy uncertainty index lowest since 2007, Economic Policy Uncertainty

Health & Society
Two-thirds of Americans satisfied with how healthcare system works for them, Gallup
Obamacare shakes up insurance-market competition in seven states, KFF
More colon testing leads to 30% drop in cancer rates, American Cancer Society
Children who watch more TV get less sleep, JAMA
And having a bedroom TV is associated with children’s weight gain, JAMA

Why Ukraine can’t fight Russia, and other charts that explain the world, Politico
Graphic on economic ties between Central/Eastern Europe, Russia, WSJ
Stronger property rights for Indian women linked to more suicides, domestic abuse, NBER
New data on 2013 international arms transfers, SIPRI
Leading economic indicators rise for Spainfall for Brazil, The Conference Board

Got new data to share? Send it to us via email or Tweet us @FactTank.

Category: Data Feed

Mar 17, 2014 9:00 am

Resurgent public optimism on the economy? Don’t hold your breath

One of the biggest political puzzles of 2014 is why the public remains so bearish about the economy, and in turn critical of Barack Obama’s stewardship of it, given clear signs that economic indicators are improving. As the new year began, the Associated Press summed up the optimistic outlook of experts succinctly: “Consumers will spend more. Government will cut less. Business will invest more. And more companies will hire.” In that regard, the Bureau of Labor Statistics first report of the year showed that the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of  6.7 percent, and essentially remained at that level in February.

But even so, much of the American public is still not over the Great Recession. And the factors that drive economic pessimism are not easily mitigated.  Surveys show that a complex combination of partisanship and widening socio-economic gaps are in play, undermining chances of an improvement in the public mood any time soon. 

At the outset of what appeared to be a brightening economic climate, the Pew Research Center’s January national survey found just 16% of the public rating the national economy as excellent or good while a whopping 83% rated it as only fair or poor. This is little different than a year earlier when the survey found 12% giving the economy a positive rating and 86% rating it negatively. In fact, this is only modestly better than at any point since the onset of the Great Recession.

The same pattern is seen in how Americans size up their personal finances. While Americans have a better opinion of their own finances than of the national economy, ratings of personal financial well-being remain well below what they were pre-recession. In 2007, and for much of the decade before it, about half of Americans rated their finances as excellent or good. Today, just 39% do. Read More

Topics: National Economy

Mar 17, 2014 7:00 am

5 key findings about digital news audiences

The method that someone uses to get to a news web site is a major indicator of their behavior once they arrive there, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. The analysis of comScore data on desktop and laptop traffic to 26 top news sites finds that direct visitors—those who come to a site by typing in a URL or clicking a bookmark—behave quite differently from those who use search engines or social media to get to news.

The data used in this report was averaged over April, May, and June of 2013.While it does not include mobile device traffic, Pew Research Center surveys have found that desktop news consumption still outpaces mobile. In 2013, 82% of Americans reported getting news on their desktop or laptop (35% did so “often”), compared to 54% of Americans who get news on their mobile device (21% did so “often”).

Here’s what we learned about three important pathways to digital news—social, search and direct—and what they tell us about user engagement with online content.

1Visitors who type in the URL or use bookmarks to go to top news sites were far more engaged with content than other visitors. These direct visitors spent 4 minutes and 36 seconds per visit on news sites, while visitors who arrive from Facebook spent only 1 minute and 41 seconds and those from search spent 1 minute and 42 seconds.

They also viewed more content—almost 25 pages per month compared to visitors from Facebook who viewed only 4.2 pages and visitors from search, at 4.9. And this group also returned far more often to the same news site, visiting 10.9 times per month compared with 2.9 for Facebook visitors and 3.1 for those coming from search. Read More

Topics: Digital Media, News Audience Trends and Attitudes

Mar 14, 2014 12:30 pm

U.S. Census looking at big changes in how it asks about race and ethnicity

Experimental question combines race and Hispanic ethnicity.

The Census Bureau has embarked on a years-long research project intended to improve the accuracy and reliability of its race and ethnicity data. A problem is that a growing percentage of Americans don’t select a race category provided on the form: As many as 6.2% of census respondents selected only “some other race” in the 2010 census, the vast majority of whom were Hispanic.

Six percent may seem small, but for an agency trying to capture the entire U.S. population (nearly 309 million in 2010) every 10 years, that number results in millions of people unaccounted for. This pattern of response led to the bureau’s “most comprehensive effort in history to study race and ethnic categories,” according to Census officials Nicholas Jones and Roberto Ramirez. Increasingly, Americans are saying they cannot find themselves” on census forms, Jones said.

Many communities, including Hispanics, Arabs and people of mixed race, have said they’re unsure of how to identify themselves on census forms. Read More

Topics: Race and Ethnicity, U.S. Census