For the fourth year running, a key U.S. fertility rate has reached a record low, according to the most recent government figures. To some, this is cause for hand-wringing, as concerns arise that fewer births will spell problems for the nation’s economy; while others, concerned about limited natural resources, may look positively on the decline.
But aside from this debate, the question remains: Is this really a record low? The short answer is, it’s complicated, because there are different ways to measure fertility.
Three of the most commonly used indicators are the general fertility rate (GFR), completed fertility, and the total fertility rate (TFR). All three reflect fertility behavior in slightly different ways – respectively, in terms of the annual rate at which women are presently having kids; the number of kids they ultimately have; or the hypothetical number they would likely have based on present fertility patterns.
None of these indicators is “right” or “wrong,” but for years each measure told a different story about when fertility bottomed out. For the first time in decades, two of the three measures – the GFR and the TFR – now align, indicating that fertility hit a record low in 2018. Meanwhile, data for 2018 completed fertility is not yet available, but 2016 data indicates that it has been ticking up, not down, in recent years.
The latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics used the general fertility rate to show that for every 1,000 women of childbearing age – typically defined as ages 15 to 44 – there were 59.0 births in 2018. Like all the fertility measures discussed here, the GFR is not affected by the overall population size or the share of the population that consists of women of childbearing age. However, it is affected by changes in the age distribution among women of childbearing age; the higher the share of women in their peak childbearing years, the higher the general fertility rate will be, all else being equal (and vice versa).
Black Americans are far more likely than whites to say the nation’s criminal justice system is racially biased and that its treatment of minorities is a serious national problem.
In a recent Pew Research Center survey, around nine-in-ten black adults (87%) said blacks are generally treated less fairly by the criminal justice system than whites, a view shared by a much smaller majority of white adults (61%). And in a survey shortly before last year’s midterm elections, 79% of blacks – compared with 32% of whites – said the way racial and ethnic minorities are treated by the criminal justice system is a very big problem in the United States today.
Racial differences in views of the criminal justice system are not limited to the perceived fairness of the system as a whole. Black and white adults also differ across a range of other criminal justice-related questions asked by the Center in recent years, on subjects ranging from crime and policing to the use of computer algorithms in parole decisions.
Many Europeans will head to the polls later this month to elect a new European Parliament, the directly elected legislative body of the European Union. The voting comes as the EU faces a number of challenges, including the United Kingdom’s planned departure from the bloc and public concerns about the economy, refugees and other issues. Some observers have suggested that this year’s elections could serve as a referendum on the entire European experiment.
Here’s an overview of how Europeans in 10 EU member states feel about key institutions and issues ahead of the elections, based on data from Pew Research Center’s spring 2018 Global Attitudes Survey:
1People tend to have a more favorable opinion of the EU than of the European Parliament. Across 10 surveyed EU countries, a median of 62% see the EU favorably, compared with a median of 50% who see the European Parliament favorably. The UK and Greece stand out for their negative assessments of both. In two of the EU’s biggest countries – France and Germany – majorities have a favorable view of the EU, but views of the European Parliament are divided.
The recent approval of a bill by Taiwan’s legislature legalizing gay marriage makes it the first nation in Asia to permit gays and lesbians to wed. The vote comes roughly a year and half after Austria’s highest court ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to wed beginning in 2019.
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For years, proposals have sought to shift the nation’s immigration system away from its current emphasis on family reunification and employment-based migration, and toward a points-based system that prioritizes the admission of immigrants with certain education and employment qualifications.
The Trump administration has announced a proposal that would grant green cards to immigrants who meet requirements related to education, age and English-speaking ability. The administration has previously proposed regulation that would deny immigrants entry to the U.S. or lawful permanent residence if they are likely to use Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) and other forms of public assistance. Here are key details about existing U.S. immigration programs:
In fiscal 2017, 748,746 people received family-based U.S. lawful permanent residence. The program allows someone to receive a green card if they already have a spouse, child, sibling or parent living in the country with U.S. citizenship or, in some cases, a green card. Immigrants from countries with large numbers of applicants often wait for years to receive a green card because a single country can account for no more than 7% of all green cards issued annually. President Donald Trump said his legislation, when proposed, would prioritize family-based green cards to immediate family members. Today, family-based immigration – referred to by some as “chain migration” – is the most common way people gain green cards, in recent years accounting for about two-thirds of the more than 1 million people who receive them annually. This share could decline to about one-third under the president’s proposal. Read More →
While ideas about religious liberty and tolerance are central to America’s founding and national story, different religious groups – including Catholics, Jews and Mormons – have suffered discrimination in the United States at various points in history. Today, Americans say some religious groups continue to be discriminated against and disadvantaged, according to an analysis of recent Pew Research Center surveys.
Most American adults (82%) say Muslims are subject to at least some discrimination in the U.S. today, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March – including a majority (56%) who say Muslims are discriminated against a lot.
Among U.S. Muslims themselves, many say they have experienced specific instances of discrimination, including being treated with suspicion, singled out by airport security or called offensive names, according to a 2017 survey of Muslim Americans.
In this year’s survey, roughly two-thirds of Americans (64%) also say Jews face at least some discrimination in the U.S., up 20 percentage points from the last time this question was asked in 2016. More say Jews face some discrimination than a lot (39% vs. 24%).
Here are 10 facts about Americans and Facebook, based on Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019:
1Around seven-in-ten U.S. adults (69%) use Facebook, according to a survey conducted in early 2019. That’s unchanged since April 2016, but up from 54% of adults in August 2012.
With the exception of YouTube – the video-sharing platform used by 73% of adults – no other major social media platform comes close to Facebook in terms of usage. Around four-in-ten U.S. adults (37%) say they use Instagram, while smaller shares say they use Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp. Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.
Partisan divides in the United States are as wide as they’ve ever been in the modern political era. But what about the large share of Americans who identify as independents?
A recent Pew Research Center report took a detailed look at these Americans. Among other things, it illustrated that independents have lower levels of political participation and are demographically different from those who affiliate with a party – and that their views are often as divided as those of self-identified partisans.
Here are six facts about political independents:
1Nearly four-in-ten U.S. adults (38%) identify as politically independent, but most “lean” toward one of the two major parties. Only 7% of Americans overall don’t express a partisan leaning, while 13% lean toward the Republican Party and 17% lean toward the Democratic Party.
As of the end of 2017, 96 out of 167 countries with populations of at least 500,000 (57%) were democracies of some kind, and only 21 (13%) were autocracies. Nearly four dozen other countries – 46, or 28% – exhibited elements of both democracy and autocracy. Broadly speaking, the share of democracies among the world’s governments has been on an upward trend since the mid-1970s, and now sits just shy of its post-World War II record (58% in 2016).
To track the spread of democracy around the globe, we used the ratings contained in the Center for Systemic Peace’s Polity IV dataset. Polity is a widely used resource in political science that analyzes and codes how political authority is gained and used in every fully independent state with a population of 500,000 or more (167 of the world’s 200 or so sovereign states in the current version).
Exposure to false or incorrect information is a key concern for people in 11 emerging economies, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Many social media users report being regularly exposed to misinformation when using the platforms. In most countries surveyed, more than a quarter of social media and messaging app users say they frequently encounter this sort of content, and majorities in 10 of the 11 countries say they see it at least occasionally.
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.