There is a partisan gap in the United States over how much the federal government should spend for scientific research.
Overall, about half of U.S. adults (52%) say they would increase federal spending for scientific research, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March, up 15 percentage points since 2013. Just 14% say scientific research funding should be decreased, while roughly three-in-ten (31%) think it should stay the same.
But Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support increased spending for scientific research. Around six-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (62%) favor this now, up from 46% in 2013. Four-in-ten Republicans and Republican leaners support increased spending for scientific research today, up from 25% six years ago.
How many U.S. adults use the internet? This might seem like a straightforward question, with a straightforward way to find out: Just ask. Indeed, there is a lot of information available from large, high response rate federal surveys as well as from surveys conducted by Pew Research Center and other organizations. However, these different sources of information measure internet use in ways that can be tricky to reconcile. Depending on the source, the estimated share of Americans who were online as of 2017 and 2018 is as low as 79% or as high as 89%.
Pew Research Center has been tracking Americans’ internet behavior for years, all the while focusing on personal use from any location. While our approach has evolved over time, the current measurement consists of two questions: “Do you use the internet or email, at least occasionally?” and “Do you access the internet on a cellphone, tablet or other mobile handheld device, at least occasionally?” In a January 2018 phone survey, 89% of U.S. adults said “yes” to at least one of these questions.
As the debate over abortion continues, here are five key facts about Americans’ views on the topic, based on recent Pew Research Center polling:
1About six-in-ten U.S. adults (61%) said in a 2019 survey that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 38% who said it should be illegal all or most of the time. On both sides of the issue, Americans are more likely than not to leave room for exceptions, with more saying abortion should be legal or illegal most of the time, rather than always. Public support for legal abortion remains as high as it has been in two decades of polling, and there is virtually no difference between the views of men and women.
More than 157 million Americans are part of the U.S. workforce, and many of them (but not all) will spend the Labor Day holiday weekend away from their desks, assembly lines and checkout counters. As we mark the day, here’s what we know about who American workers are, what they do and the U.S. working environment in general.
1Over the past 35 years, the share of American workers who belong to labor unions has fallen by about half. Union membership peaked in 1954 at nearly 35% of all U.S. workers (excluding the self-employed), but in 2018 the unionization rate was just 10.5%. (The share of workers represented by unions is a bit higher, 11.7%, because about 1.6 million workers who aren’t union members are in jobs covered by a union contract.) The actual number of union members was 14.7 million last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2012, union membership hit its lowest point since the current data series began in the early 1980s, falling below 14.4 million, before turning modestly upward.
The industry with the biggest decline in the rate of union representation from 2000 to 2018 was transportation and material moving, from 21.7% to 14.5%. This industry includes a wide swath of occupations – from air traffic controllers to bus drivers to flight attendants. Unionization rates actually have risen, albeit slightly and from low bases, in a few occupational groups: In legal occupations, for instance, the unionization rate rose from 5.1% in 2000 to 5.9% last year.
In a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, 51% of Americans said the decline in unionization has been mostly bad for working people, while 35% regarded it as mostly good. More recently, 45% of respondents in a July 2019 survey said labor unions have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country; 28% described their impact as negative.
The share of Americans calling global climate change a major threat to the well-being of the United States has grown from 40% in 2013 to 57% this year, Pew Research Center surveys have shown. But the rise in concern has largely come from Democrats. Opinions among Republicans on this issue remain largely unchanged.
Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents overall, 84% say climate change is a major threat to the country’s well-being as of July 2019, up from 58% in a March 2013 survey. Views among Republicans and Republican leaners have stayed about the same (27% in 2019 vs. 22% in 2013).
Nearly all liberal Democrats (94%, including independents who lean to the party) consider climate change a major threat to the nation now, up 30 percentage points from 2013. Three-quarters of moderate/conservative Democrats say the same, up from 54% in 2013.
By contrast, there has been no significant change among either moderate or conservative Republicans on this issue. (While the share of moderate/liberal Republicans who see climate change as a major threat is up 9 percentage points since 2013, this change is not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.)
While public trust in scientists and their work can be mixed, a strong majority of the American public thinks of science as having a positive effect on society, and most expect continued benefits to accrue from science in the years ahead.
About seven-in-ten U.S. adults (73%) say science has had a positive effect on society, just 3% say it has had a negative effect and 23% say it has yielded an equal mix of positive and negative effects, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
White adults are more likely than black and Hispanic adults to see the effects of science in positive terms. And people who have higher levels of factual knowledge about science, based on an 11-item index, are especially likely to think science has had a positive effect overall. Read More →
Which kinds of statements do Americans see as acceptable in political debate, and which are out of bounds? How do people view the way President Donald Trump and other elected officials talk about politics? How do they navigate conversations about politics and other sensitive topics with strangers and friends? In conducting a recent major survey about political discourse in the United States, we at Pew Research Center sought to use techniques and experiments to help capture the nuances of how Americans feel about the tenor of debate in the country. Here are some of the ways we went about it.
Using scenarios to make questions feel connected to people’s own lives. We tend to use scenarios selectively in our surveys because they are time-consuming and there often are more direct ways to measure people’s views about a subject.
But we wanted to get people to think about how they might approach a conversation with someone who differs from them politically. So, it made sense to develop a scenario that asked them to imagine such a situation.
We asked people about their attitudes on several topics in the news – raising the minimum wage, banning assault weapons and expanding the U.S.-Mexico border wall, as well as whether they approve of Trump’s job performance. Later in the survey, we asked them to imagine being at a small dinner with people who took the opposite view from their own on all these topics, including Trump.
This approach proved revealing: People said they would be more comfortable talking about the three other topics than about Trump. And there were, at most, only slight differences in Americans’ willingness to talk about these subjects at a dinner gathering depending on their views on assault weapons and the other topics.
But that was not the case with Trump. Those who disapproved of the way he is handling his job were far less likely than Trump approvers to say they would be willing to share their opinions about him in a social gathering with those who had the opposite view (43% of those who disapproved vs. 57% of those who approved).
So, what exactly are teens doing with their cellphones?
The vast majority of cellphone-using teens say their phone is a way to just pass time, with nine-in-ten saying they often or sometimes use it this way, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 13- to 17-year-olds conducted in 2018. Similarly large shares of teen cellphone users say they at least sometimes use their phone to connect with other people (84%) or learn new things (83%).
Teen boys and girls are about equally likely to say they often or sometimes use their devices to connect with other people (85% vs. 83%, respectively), just pass the time (both 90%) or learn new things (79% vs. 87%).
Lower fertility rates and aging populations have become worldwide concerns, but the G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – have stood out for their lower birth rates and graying of their citizens since the mid-20th century, when the United Nations first recorded this data.
The biggest gap occurred during 1970-1975, when the group of leading industrial nations was established. At that time, the global fertility rate was 4.47 projected lifetime births per woman, but 2.03 among G7 nations. The gap between global fertility rates and those of the G7 nations has closed dramatically since then, and the UN projects that the gap between global and G7 fertility will continue to narrow.
France will preside over the 45th annual G7 summit this weekend in Biarritz. The meeting will focus on improving access to health care and education and the promotion of gender equality, among other issues. Not on the agenda is the aging of the global population, which the UN has identified as one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century.
Internet use is rising in emerging economies, but access to fast, reliable service remains elusive to many living in these nations. Some tech companies have been working to address this issue, as has the United Nations. But what role should the government play in getting all residents digitally connected?
A median of 65% across 11 emerging economies say it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to reliable internet service, according to a Pew Research Center survey of adults conducted last fall. Smaller shares – three-in-ten – say this should not be the responsibility of the government.
This sentiment is more pronounced in certain countries. For example, roughly three-quarters of adults in Venezuela and Lebanon agree it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to reliable internet. By comparison, around half of South Africans share this view.
These opinions also differ by personal internet use in most countries surveyed. In seven of 11 nations, internet-using adults are more likely than non-internet users to believe the government has a responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to reliable internet.
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.