Mar 26, 2018 12:31 pm

Putin remains overwhelmingly unpopular in the United States

Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to address the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on March 1 at Moscow's Manezh Central Exhibition Hall. (Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS via Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to address the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on March 1 at Moscow’s Manezh Central Exhibition Hall. (Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS via Getty Images)

A majority of Americans (68%) have an unfavorable opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Just 16% see Putin favorably, with more Republicans than Democrats holding that view.

A quarter of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (25%) said they had a favorable view of Putin overall, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January before the Russian leader’s re-election. Just 9% of Democrats and Democratic leaners had a favorable view of Putin. About three-quarters of Democrats (76%), on the other hand, held an unfavorable view of the Russian president, compared with a smaller majority of Republicans (62%).

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Topics: Eastern Europe, Non-U.S. Political Leaders, Russia, International Governments and Institutions, Europe

Mar 23, 2018 11:30 am

Who doesn’t read books in America?

Credit: iStock by Getty Images

About a quarter of American adults (24%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form. Who are these non-book readers?

Several demographic traits correlate with non-book reading, Pew Research Center surveys have found. For instance, adults with a high school degree or less are about five times as likely as college graduates (37% vs. 7%) to report not reading books in any format in the past year. Adults with lower levels of educational attainment are also among the least likely to own smartphones, even as e-book reading on these devices has increased substantially since 2011. (College-educated adults are more likely to own these devices and use them to read e-books.)

Adults with annual household incomes of $30,000 or less are about three times as likely as the most affluent adults to be non-book readers (36% vs. 13%). Hispanic adults are about twice as likely as whites (38% vs. 20%) to report not having read a book in the past 12 months. But there are differences between Hispanics born inside and outside the U.S.: Roughly half (51%) of foreign-born Hispanics report not having read a book, compared with 22% of Hispanics born in the U.S.

Older Americans are a bit more likely than their younger counterparts not to have read a book. Some 28% of adults ages 50 and older have not read a book in the past year, compared with 20% of adults under 50. There are modest differences when looking at gender and whether people live in urban, suburban or rural areas.

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Topics: Education, Demographics, Libraries, Leisure Activities

Mar 22, 2018 1:30 pm

U.S. tariffs are among the lowest in the world – and in the nation’s history

The Trump administration’s plans to impose $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, as well as tariffs recently placed on imported steel and aluminum and on imports of solar panels and washing machines, mark a distinct break from decades of U.S. trade policy, which long has generally favored lower tariffs and fewer restrictions on the movement of goods and services across international borders.

The tariff actions have sparked storms of reaction in the U.S. and around the world – including threats by the European Union to place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports and a spate of intense lobbying to get specific countries or industries exempted before the steel and aluminum tariffs take effect March 23.

Since the turn of the 21st century, U.S. average tariff rates have consistently been at or near their lowest levels in the nation’s history; today, they’re also among the lowest in the world.

In 2016, according to the World Bank, the average applied U.S. tariff across all products was 1.61%; that was about the same as the average rate of 1.6% for the 28-nation EU, and not much higher than Japan’s 1.35%. Among other major U.S. trading partners, Canada’s average applied tariff rate was 0.85%, China’s was 3.54% and Mexico’s was 4.36%. (Those average rates are weighted by product import shares with all of each nation’s trading partners, and don’t necessarily reflect the provisions of specific trade deals. Under NAFTA, for instance, most trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico is duty-free.)  Read More

Topics: Globalization and Trade, World Economies

Mar 21, 2018 1:01 pm

Americans had concerns about self-driving cars before fatal Arizona accident

Even before a driverless Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona this week, a slight majority of Americans said they were at least somewhat worried about the development of autonomous cars and hesitant about riding in one if given the chance.

Slightly more than half of U.S. adults (54%) said in a Pew Research Center survey conducted in May 2017 that they were somewhat or very worried about the development of driverless vehicles, while 40% said they were at least somewhat enthusiastic about it. A majority of U.S. adults (56%) also said they would not personally want to ride in a driverless car if they had the opportunity, compared with 44% who would.

The accident in Tempe, Arizona, was believed to be the first time a pedestrian had been killed in an incident involving a driverless car. In response, Uber announced it would suspend testing of driverless vehicles in four North American cities where the ridesharing company had been piloting the technology: Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Tempe and Toronto.

In the Center’s 2017 survey, women were more likely than men to say they were at least somewhat worried about the development of driverless cars (63% vs. 44%) and that they would not personally want to ride in one (64% vs. 47%), as were adults with a high school diploma or less when compared with college graduates.

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Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Technology Adoption

Mar 21, 2018 12:00 pm

How do you write survey questions that accurately measure public opinion?

We’re excited to bring you the second video in Pew Research Center’s occasional Methods 101 series, which aims to demystify the methodology we use to conduct our research. This time around, we’re tackling why question wording is so important in public opinion surveys.

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Topics: Research Methods

Mar 20, 2018 3:01 pm

Trump’s appointed judges are a less diverse group than Obama’s

Don R. Willett, right, and James C. Ho, nominated by President Donald Trump as judges for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, are sworn into their Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Washington on Nov. 15, 2017. Both went on to be confirmed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Don R. Willett, right, and James C. Ho, nominated by President Donald Trump as judges for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, are sworn into their Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Washington on Nov. 15, 2017. Both went on to be confirmed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Just 10% of the judges President Donald Trump has appointed to the federal bench since taking office are racial or ethnic minorities – a decline from the administration of Barack Obama, whose judicial appointees were a record 36% nonwhite, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Federal Judicial Center.

Trump has appointed 29 judges as of March 20, including 26 who are white and three who are Asian. He has yet to appoint a black or Hispanic judge, though he has put forward at least one black and one Hispanic nominee.

By comparison, 116 of the 324 judges Obama appointed during his eight years in office were racial or ethnic minorities, including 58 blacks, 31 Hispanics, 18 Asians and nine with other or mixed racial or ethnic backgrounds. Obama’s total reflects both the highest number and share of nonwhite judges of any president to date.

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Topics: Barack Obama, U.S. Political Figures, Donald Trump, Race and Ethnicity

Mar 19, 2018 12:30 pm

Share of married adults varies widely across U.S. religious groups

Members of a wedding party pose after a Mormon ceremony at Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City. (Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Members of a wedding party pose after a Mormon ceremony at Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City. (Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Throughout U.S. history, marriage has been tied to religion and religious institutions. Today, virtually all faith traditions have rules and ceremonies regarding marriage and, in the United States as well as in many other countries, clergy of different religious groups are authorized by the government to perform weddings.

In the U.S., roughly half of all American adults (48%) say they are married, according to the 2014 Religious Landscape Study. Much smaller shares of U.S. adults say they are living with a partner (7%), are divorced or separated (13%), or are widowed (7%). A quarter of Americans say they’ve never been married.

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Topics: Religious Affiliation, Marriage and Divorce

Mar 19, 2018 6:57 am

The Iraq War continues to divide the U.S. public, 15 years after it began

Marines run back to the Al-Hadra Mosque in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004 after sniper fire slowed their advance. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
U.S. Marines run back to the Al-Hadra Mosque in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004 after sniper fire slowed their advance. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Fifteen years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the American public is divided over whether using military force was the right decision.

Nearly half (48%) of Americans say the decision to use military force was wrong, while slightly fewer (43%) say it was the right decision, according to a Pew Research Center survey, conducted March 7-14 among 1,466 adults. Current opinions about the war in Iraq are little different than in early 2014, when 50% said the decision to use force was wrong and 38% said it was right.

Support for the decision to use military force in Iraq had declined considerably over the course of the war and its aftermath. In late March 2003, a few days after the U.S. invasion, 71% supported the decision to use military force, while just 22% said it was the wrong decision.

Just a year later, the share saying the war in Iraq was the right decision fell to 55%. By the beginning of 2005, opinion about the use of U.S. force was divided (47% right, 47% wrong). Two years later, public opinion about the war had “turned decidedly negative.”

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Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy, Middle East and North Africa, Wars and International Conflicts

Mar 16, 2018 12:00 pm

What Google searches can tell us about Americans’ interest in guns

In two studies last spring, Pew Research Center examined patterns in Google searches, first to track public interest in the Flint, Michigan, water crisis and later to learn more about refugee migration patterns in Europe.

A new analysis uses a similar methodology to look at Americans’ interest in guns. We analyzed long-term trends in U.S. Google keyword searches for 416 specific gun model names, compiled from two sources: GunBroker.com, an online gun auction website, and the American Firearms Institute, a gun rights advocacy website that provides information about firearms. While not exhaustive, the list includes many popular handguns and rifles.

By focusing on the models of guns Americans are searching for, we sought to learn more about the public’s interest in guns as potential consumer products, rather than as a subject of general interest. This analysis builds on a 2017 Pew Research Center survey that found that about four-in-ten Americans live in a gun-owning household.

Of course, it’s impossible to know why people might search for a particular gun on Google – just because someone is searching for a firearm online does not mean they plan to buy it. But the analysis finds a striking correlation between Google search trends and a commonly used measure of U.S. gun sales: the number of background checks, which the FBI conducts once a gun sale is initiated. (Federal law prohibits recording gun sales in a national database.)

Here are four key findings from the analysis.

1Google search activity for specific gun models tends to rise and fall in a similar pattern to the number of background checks conducted by the FBI. When we examined monthly, nationwide Google searches for the gun models on our list between February 2012 and February 2018, as well as the adjusted number of gun background checks the FBI carried out each month during this period, we found a strong correlation between the two. This finding aligns with other research that has found that Google search activity tends to track real-world economic indicators closely. A 2017 paper published in the journal Science also found that the search term “buy gun” is strongly correlated with background checks.

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Topics: Online Search, Internet Activities, Social Values

Mar 16, 2018 11:00 am

How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago

Female "human computers" perform calculations at Langley Research Center, 1955; a day in the office at Velocity Global, 2018. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images, left; Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Female “human computers” perform calculations at Langley Research Center, 1955; a day in the office at Velocity Global, 2018. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images, left; Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The past five decades – spanning from the time when the Silent Generation (today, in their 70s and 80s) was entering adulthood to the adulthood of today’s Millennials – have seen large shifts in U.S. society and culture. It has been a period during which Americans, especially Millennials, have become more detached from major institutions such as political parties, religion, the military and marriage. At the same time, the racial and ethnic make-up of the country has changed, college attainment has spiked and women have greatly increased their participation in the nation’s workforce.

Our new interactive graphic compares the generations today and in the years that each generation was young (ages 21 to 36) to demonstrate the sea change in young adults’ activities and experiences that has occurred over the past 50 years.

Our analysis finds several distinctive ways that Millennials stand out when compared with the Silent Generation, a group of Americans old enough to be grandparents to many Millennials:

1Today’s young adults (Millennials ages 21 to 36 in 2017) are much better educated than the Silent Generation. The educational trajectory of young women across the generations has been especially steep. Among Silent Generation women, only 9% had completed at least four years of college when they were young. By comparison, Millennial women are four times (36%) as likely as their Silent predecessors were to have at least a bachelor’s degree at the same age. Educational gains are not limited to women, as Millennial men are also better educated than earlier generations of young men. Three-in-ten Millennial men (29%) have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 15% of their young Silent counterparts. These higher levels of educational attainment at ages 21 to 36 suggest that Millennials – especially Millennial women – are on track to be our most educated generation by the time they complete their educational journeys.

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Topics: Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generations and Age