As the 2020 U.S. census approaches, Americans overwhelmingly are aware of it, and more than eight-in-ten (84%) say they definitely or probably will participate, a new Pew Research Center survey finds. Still, 16% express at least some uncertainty about responding, with higher shares saying this among some demographic groups.
Black and Hispanic adults, as well as those with lower income levels, are more likely to say they probably or definitely will not participate in the census, or that they might or might not. Black and Hispanic adults have been undercounted in the past, while lower-income adults are classified as a “hard to count” population, according to Census Bureau research.
Age is also an important predictor of whether people say they may participate, even after controlling for other factors. Young adults – those ages 18 to 29 – are least likely to be on board of the four age groups included in this analysis.
There is no notable difference between Democrats and Republicans (including those who lean toward each party) when it comes to awareness of the census and intention to participate.
The new national survey was conducted online Sept. 16-29 among 6,878 adults, in English and Spanish, using Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.
Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, people in former West and East Germany overwhelmingly say the unification of their country was a positive development, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Large majorities in both areas say the changes that have unfolded in Germany since 1989 have had a good influence on living standards, health care and national pride, and most also see improvements in areas including family values, spiritual values and law and order.
On a personal level, too, Germans are happier with their lives, according to the survey, which was conducted in spring 2019 among representative samples of adults in the pre-1990 Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and former German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Majorities in both areas now place themselves at 7 or higher on a 10-point “ladder” of life satisfaction, where 10 represents the best possible life. When Pew Research Center asked the life satisfaction question in 1991 and 2009, no more than roughly half in either area placed themselves in this top tier. The increase has been especially dramatic in the former East, where the share who rate their lives at 7 or higher has almost quadrupled from just 15% in 1991 to 59% this year.
Despite widespread positive sentiments among Germans about the changes of the past 30 years, the perspectives of those in the former West and East still differ in some notable ways. Here is a look at some of the areas where these differences are most pronounced.
1People in the former West are more satisfied than those in the former East with the way things are going in their country today, including the performance of Germany’s democracy. Around six-in-ten adults in former West Germany (61%) are satisfied with the way things are going in Germany, compared with 37% who are dissatisfied. Opinion is more evenly divided in former East Germany, where 50% are satisfied and 47% are not.
When it comes to the way Germany’s democracy is working, around two-thirds of those in the former West (66%) are satisfied, compared with a narrower 55% majority among those in the former East.
2On a variety of measures, those in the former West are more optimistic about the future than their counterparts in the former East. More in the former West say they are optimistic than pessimistic when it comes to the education system (57% optimistic vs. 41% pessimistic) and how the nation’s political system works (53% vs. 45%). In the former East, people tend to be more pessimistic than optimistic in both of these areas.
People in the former West are also more likely to say children today will be better off financially than their parents when they grow up, as opposed to worse off (50% vs. 41%). In the former East, by contrast, people are more likely to say the next generation will be worse off financially than their parents instead of better off (48% vs. 42%).
3Attitudes toward the EU are more positive in the former West than in the former East. Germans are generally pro-European Union, but the share of adults who have a favorable view of the EU is higher in the former West than in the former East (72% vs. 59%). Similarly, three-quarters of those in the former West say Germany’s membership in the EU is a good thing, compared with 62% of those in the former East.
4People living in the former East are twice as likely as those in the former West to have a favorable opinion of the country’s right-wing populist party, Alternative for Germany (AfD). While its nationwide favorability remains relatively low, AfD has made electoral gains recently, particularly in the former East. In Pew Research Center’s new survey, 24% of adults in the East express a favorable view of AfD, compared with 12% of those in the former West.
Views of two main centrist parties in Germany, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), are roughly the same in the former West and East Germany. Among adults in both the former West and East, 45% have a favorable view of the CDU, while 42% have a favorable opinion of the SPD.
Around two-thirds of adults in former West Germany (66%) have a favorable opinion of Alliance 90/The Greens, compared with 51% of those in the former East. Meanwhile, those in the former East are more likely than those in the former West (44% vs. 36%) to have a favorable view of The Left party, a successor to the Communist Party in the former German Democratic Republic. People in former West Germany are more likely than those in the former East not to offer an opinion on The Left.
5Those in former East Germany hold more negative views toward certain minority groups than people in the former West. Majorities in both areas see Muslims and Jews favorably, but those living in the former East are 14 percentage points more likely than their Western counterparts to have an unfavorable view of Muslims (36% vs. 22%) and about twice as likely to have an unfavorable view of Jews (12% vs. 5%).
Views of another minority group – Roma – are decidedly more negative in both areas, but people in the former East are again more likely than those in the former West to express an unfavorable opinion (48% vs. 35%).
Over the long term, there have been some notable changes in views toward minority groups in both areas. In 1991, for example, around a quarter of those living in former West Germany (27%) expressed an unfavorable view toward Jews – about twice the share expressing that view in the former East (12%). Since then, views toward Jews have become much more favorable in both areas – especially in former West Germany, where around nine-in-ten (88%) now hold a favorable opinion, up from around half (51%) in 1991.
6Religion is more important to people in the former West than those in the former East. Six-in-ten adults in former West Germany say religion is very or somewhat important in their lives, whereas an identical share of those in former East Germany say religion is not too or not at all important. This includes 45% of those in the former East who say religion is not at all important in their lives.
Similarly, a majority of adults in the former West (56%) agree with the statement “God plays an important role in my life,” while nearly three-quarters of those in the former East (72%) disagree with this statement.
While fewer than half of people in both areas agree with the statement “Prayer is an important part of my daily life,” those in the former West are more likely to agree with it than those in the former East (42% vs. 25%).
Donald Trump made fighting crime a central focus of his campaign for president, and he cited it again during his January 2017 inaugural address. His administration has since taken steps intended to address crime in American communities, such as instructing federal prosecutors to pursue the strongest possible charges against criminal suspects. Here are five facts about crime in the United States.
1Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century. The two most commonly cited sources of crime statistics in the U.S. both show a substantial decline in the violent crime rate since it peaked in the early 1990s. One is an annual report by the FBI of serious crimes reported to police in more than 18,500 jurisdictions around the country. The other is a nationally representative annual survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which asks approximately 160,000 Americans ages 12 and older whether they were victims of crime, regardless of whether they reported those crimes to the police.
Using the FBI numbers, the violent crime rate fell 51% between 1993 and 2018. Using the BJS data, the rate fell 71% during that span. The long-term decline in violent crime hasn’t been uninterrupted, though. The FBI, for instance, reported increases in the violent crime rate between 2004 and 2006 and again between 2014 and 2016. Violent crime includes offenses such as rape, robbery and assault.
Despite deep partisan divisions on the issue, there has been a modest rise in support for stricter gun laws in the United States since 2017, a new Pew Research Center survey has found.
In addition, while opinion on most gun policies has changed little in recent years, somewhat more Americans favor banning high capacity ammunition magazines today (71%) than did so two years ago (65%).
Overall, the share of Americans who say gun laws in the U.S. should be made stricter has increased from 52% in 2017 to 60% this year, according to a survey conducted in September. The share of those saying gun laws should be less strict has dropped from 18% in 2017 to 11% today.
As with attitudes on many gun-related issues, there are sharp partisan divides about whether gun laws should be stricter. Currently, 86% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor stricter gun laws, compared with 31% of Republicans and Republican leaners. The share of Democrats who support stricter gun laws has risen 11 percentage points since 2017, while there has been 7-point increase in support among Republicans.
Results of a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in 14 European Union member states and the United States indicate that American and European values sometimes vary when it comes to key areas affecting their lives: the factors important to democracy, evaluations of the state, LGBT rights and gender, the importance of religion and the paths to a successful life. Here is what we found in these five areas:
1Americans and Western Europeans largely agree about what is important for democracy, but they put greater emphasis on these principles than Central and Eastern Europeans. Across nine democratic traits asked about in the survey, Americans and Western Europeans were both likely to be in agreement on what was “very important” on most issues. Roughly nine-in-ten Americans (93%) and a median of 90% of Western Europeans say it’s very important to have a fair judiciary. In comparison, a median of 77% in Central and Eastern Europe say a fair judiciary is very important. Americans are about as likely as Western Europeans to say that honest, regular elections with at least two parties are very important for the country, and both see this as more important than most in Central and Eastern Europe.
One issue where Americans stand out slightly from their Western European counterparts is the importance they place on censorship-free media. Eight-in-ten Americans think it’s very important that the media be able to report freely without government intervention, while a median of 72% of Western Europeans say the same, ranging from a high of 89% in Greece to a low of 56% in Italy. Opinion also varies markedly across Central and Eastern Europe, from a high of 76% in Hungary to a low of 56% in Slovakia.
In 1991, Pew Research Center’s predecessor organization, the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press, conducted a groundbreaking survey in Europe shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We returned to the same set of countries in 2009 to explore how public opinion had changed – and are doing so again today, with the release of a new survey that explores European attitudes three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Here are 10 key takeaways from the new survey, which was conducted from May 13 to Aug. 12, 2019, among 18,979 adults in 14 European Union member nations – plus Russia, Ukraine and the United States, for comparison purposes.
1On balance, people across the former Soviet bloc nations approve of the changeover to a multiparty electoral system and free market economy. Majorities in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania and the area corresponding to former East Germany all rate these transitions favorably.
However, those in Russia are less likely to approve of the democratic and capitalist changeover. In fact, 63% of Russians agree it is a misfortune the Soviet Union no longer exists.
National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year, celebrates U.S. Latinos, their culture and their history. Started in 1968 by Congress as Hispanic Heritage Week, it was expanded to a month in 1988. The celebration begins in the middle rather than the start of September because it coincides with national independence days in several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrate theirs on Sept. 15, followed by Mexico on Sept. 16, Chile on Sept. 18 and Belize on Sept 21.
Here are some key facts about the nation’s Latino population by age, geography and origin groups.
Depending on where you live and whom you work for, Columbus Day may be a paid day off, another holiday entirely, or no different from any regular Monday.
Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, is one of the most inconsistently celebrated U.S. holidays. It’s one of 10 official federal holidays, which means federal workers get a paid day off. And because federal offices will be closed, so will most banks and the bond markets that trade in U.S. government debt (though the stock markets will remain open).
Beyond that, it’s a grab bag. Only 21 states (plus American Samoa and Puerto Rico) give their workers Columbus Day as a paid holiday, according to the Council of State Governments’ comprehensive “Book of the States” (supplemented by Pew Research Center research). Tennessee officially does so too, but on a completely different day – the governor can, and routinely does, move the observance to the Friday after Thanksgiving, to facilitate four-day weekends. Columbus, Ohio, no longer observes its namesake’s holiday, though Columbus, Georgia, still does. And three states and the District of Columbia give their workers a paid holiday on the second Monday in October, but under another name.
The vast majority of people across 15 countries in Western Europe and in the United States say they would be willing to accept Muslims as neighbors. Slightly lower shares on both sides of the Atlantic say they would be willing to accept a Muslim as a family member.
At the same time, there is no consensus on whether Islam fits into these societies. Across Western Europe, people are split on Islam’s compatibility with their country’s culture and values, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. And in the U.S., public opinion remains about evenly divided on whether Islam is part of mainstream American society and if Islam is compatible with democracy, according to a 2017 poll.
The vast majority of non-Muslim Americans (89%) say they would be willing to accept Muslims as neighbors, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The same survey finds that most people (79%) say they would be willing to accept Muslims as members of their family.
The United States plans to admit a maximum of 18,000 refugees in fiscal year 2020, down from a cap of 30,000 in the one that ended Sept. 30, 2019, under a new refugee admissions ceiling set by the Trump administration. This would be the lowest number of refugees resettled by the U.S. in a single year since 1980, when Congress created the nation’s refugee resettlement program.
Even before the administration’s announcement, refugee resettlement in the U.S. had dropped to historic lows during Donald Trump’s presidency, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of State Department data. As a result, the U.S. is no longer the world’s top country for refugee admissions. It had previously led the world on this measure for decades, admitting more refugees each year than all other countries combined.
The decline in U.S. refugee admissions comes at a time when the number of refugees worldwide has reached the highest levels since World War II.
Here are key facts from our research about refugees entering the United States:
About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.