Dec 29, 2014 7:00 am

In late spurt of activity, Congress avoids ‘least productive’ title

laws passed by recent congressesWith the 113th Congress now in the history books, we conducted a final tally of our nation’s legislative productivity — in terms of both total laws passed and of substance. Our calculation finds that the 113th just barely avoided the dubious title of “least productive Congress in modern history.” But that’s only because of an exceptionally active lame duck session.

In all, the expiring Congress enacted 296 laws, 13 more than the 2011-12 Congress. Of those, we categorized 212 as substantive by our deliberately generous criteria (that is, anything besides building renamings, commemorative-coin issuances and other purely ceremonial laws); that was four more than the previous Congress. Read More

Topics: Congress

Dec 23, 2014 3:04 pm

As Cuban American demographics change, so do views of Cuba

President Obama’s new policy on Cuba opens the door to establish ties with the country for the first time in a half century. But this change comes as the Cuban American population itself is changing—in its demographics, views of U.S.-Cuba policy, and its politics.

Cuban Immigration Waves, 1950 to 2013The nation’s Cuban American population numbers 2 million, up from 1.2 million in 2000. Much of that growth has come from Cuban Americans born in the U.S., leading to a decline in the share born in Cuba from 68% in 2000 down to 57% in 2013.

At the same time, a new, more recent wave of Cuban immigrants has arrived in the U.S. Since 1990, more than 500,000 Cuban immigrants have entered the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That has altered the demographics of those born in Cuba as the older generation of Cuban exiles passes away. In 2013, more than half (56%) of Cuban immigrants had arrived since 1990, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Vote, Latin America

Dec 23, 2014 7:00 am

Market is still hot for buying up local TV stations

Broadcast Revenues at Major Local TV Media CompaniesThe rush to acquire local TV stations by media companies continued in 2014 and resulted in strong financial payoffs for them.

From January to November 2014, 171 stations changed hands, at cost of about $5 billion, according to consulting firm BIA/Kelsey. This follows a wave of consolidations that took place in 2013, when about 300 local TV stations were purchased, at a total value of more than $8 billion. This leaves 589 stations in the hands of just 12 companies – up from 304 a decade ago.

Ten of the 12 companies reported revenue growth through the third quarter of 2014 (January – September) compared with the same period a year earlier (21st Century Fox and Meredith operate on a fiscal year that ends June 30, therefore the revenues reported here for those two companies are for July 1 through  September 30, 2014). Media General sits at the top, with $458 million in revenue for the nine months ending in September 30, 2014, an 187% growth from the previous year. During this accounting period, Media General owned 32 local TV stations in 29 markets, including 13 that it acquired in a merger with Young Broadcasting in November 2013. In March 2014, Media General announced plans to expand further by purchasing LIN Media. The merger was completed in December  2014, bringing the Media General total to 71 stations in 48 markets.

Read More

Topics: Media Ownership, Media Performance, Media Revenue Models, News Media Sectors, Television

Dec 22, 2014 12:08 pm

Less than half of U.S. kids today live in a ‘traditional’ family

Less than half of U.S. kids today live in a ‘traditional’ family

Less than half (46%) of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage. This is a marked change from 1960, when 73% of children fit this description, and 1980, when 61% did, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of recently-released American Community Survey (ACS) and Decennial Census data.

Less than half of U.S. kids today live in a ‘traditional’ family Rapid changes in American family structure have altered the image of who’s gathering for the holidays. While the old “ideal” involved couples marrying young, then starting a family, and staying married till “death do they part”, the family has become more complex, and less “traditional”.

Americans are delaying marriage, and more may be foregoing the institution altogether. At the same time, the share of children born outside of marriage now stands at 41%, up from just 5% in 1960. While debate continues as to whether divorce rates have been rising or falling in recent decades, it’s clear that in the longer term, the share of people who have been previously married is rising, as is remarriage.

According to our analysis, today 15% of children are living with two parents who are in a remarriage. It is difficult to accurately identify step-children in the ACS data, so we don’t know for sure if these kids are from another union, or were born within the remarriage. However, data from another Census source — the 2013 Current Population Survey (CPS) — indicates that 6% of all children are living with a step-parent.

Read More

Topics: Demographics, Marriage and Divorce, Parenthood

Dec 22, 2014 7:00 am

14 striking findings from 2014

In 2014, Pew Research Center published more than 150 reports (not to mention, some 600 blog posts) covering a wide range of topics — including demographic change, media habits, technology adoption, religious affiliation, and public opinion in the U.S. and worldwide. Here are 14 facts we found particularly striking, as they illustrate some major shifts in our politics, society, habits or families.

1Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines – and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive – than at any point in the last two decades: 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat; and, conversely, 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.

Political Polarization

Read More

Topics: Demographics, News Sources, Polling, Religious Affiliation, Technology Adoption, World Economies

Dec 18, 2014 9:30 am

5 key takeaways about political engagement in emerging and developing nations

Beginning with the Arab Spring, high-profile protest movements erupted in several emerging and developing countries over the last few years, giving people around the world the opportunity to participate in politics in less traditional ways. Millions have demonstrated, and activists have pioneered new forms of online engagement, but who really participates and how?

Here are five takeaways from a new Pew Research Center survey on political engagement in emerging and developing countries.

Most people in developing and emerging nations view, but fewer participate politically in other ways1Most people vote, but they participate in relatively few other political activities. Whether they are required to by national law or they do so out of civic duty, most people in emerging and developing countries vote. A median of 78% say they have voted at some point, more than double the amount of any other political activity tested, including attending campaign events and protesting. Participation in online political activities is low – just 7% say they have posted links to political articles and 9% have posted online political comments.

Read More

Topics: International Governments and Institutions, Political Attitudes and Values, World Elections

Dec 17, 2014 12:12 pm

Census Bureau proposes dropping some marriage and divorce questions

Census Bureau Questionnaire
(American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau)

The Census Bureau has proposed dropping a series of questions about marriage and divorce from its largest household survey of Americans, touching off a debate about the usefulness of such data.

Since 2008, the bureau’s American Community Survey has asked a subset of the U.S. population about their relationship status, including whether they have been married, widowed or divorced within the past year. The survey also asks how many times a person has been married and when he or she last got married, which can be used to look at marital stability. Read More

Topics: Marriage and Divorce, U.S. Census

Dec 17, 2014 10:00 am

America’s wealth gap between middle-income and upper-income families is widest on record

The wealth gap between America’s high income group and everyone else has reached record high levels since the economic recovery from the Great Recession of 2007-09, with a clear trajectory of increasing wealth for the upper-income families and no wealth growth for the middle- and lower-income families.

Wealth Gap RatiosA new Pew Research Center analysis of wealth finds the gap between America’s upper-income and middle-income families has reached its highest level on record. In 2013, the median wealth of the nation’s upper-income families ($639,400) was nearly seven times the median wealth of middle-income families ($96,500), the widest wealth gap seen in 30 years when the Federal Reserve began collecting these data.

In addition, America’s upper-income families have a median net worth that is nearly 70 times that of the country’s lower-income families, also the widest wealth gap between these families in 30 years. Read More

Topics: Economic Recession, Economics and Personal Finances, Income, Income Inequality, Socioeconomic Class, Wealth

Dec 16, 2014 1:09 pm

With fewer new arrivals, Census lowers Hispanic population projections

The Hispanic population is expected to reach about 106 million in 2050, about double what it is today, according to new U.S. Census Bureau population projections. But the new Hispanic population projection for 2050 is lower — by nearly 30 million — than earlier population projections published by the bureau.

The nation’s Hispanic population has been one of its fastest growing in recent decades. Since 1970, the Hispanic population has grown 592%, largely because of the arrival of new immigrants from Latin America — especially Mexico. By comparison, the U.S. population overall has grown 56% over the same period. Between 2000 and 2010 alone, Hispanics made up more than half of U.S. population growth.

Slowdown in Latin American migration among drivers of lower Hispanic population projections

Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Immigration Trends

Dec 16, 2014 10:30 am

Do lower gasoline prices make for confident consumers?

gas prices consumer confidence

Gasoline prices have been dropping since midsummer, and consumers’ confidence about the economy has been on the rise. Could there be a connection?

According to a new Pew Research Center report, 70% of Americans now report hearing mostly good news about gas prices, up from just 15% in August. In truth, gas prices have been falling for months: As of Monday, the national average price of a gallon of self-serve regular was $2.554 — $1.15 less than in late June (representing a nearly one-third drop), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s the cheapest gas has been since October 2009. Also, Brent crude oil has fallen more than $45 a barrel since June and is now below $59 a barrel for the first time since May 2009.

Meanwhile, the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment stood at 88.8 in November, up 7 points since July and its highest reading since mid-2007. The preliminary December reading is even higher, at 93.8, though that’s still subject to revision. Read More

Topics: National Economy