In the United States, the white share of the population is declining as Hispanic, Asian and black populations grow. But the shift to a more diverse nation is happening more quickly in some places than in others.
From 2000 to 2018, 109 counties in 22 states, from California to Kansas to North Carolina, went from majority white to majority nonwhite – that is, counties where non-Hispanic whites are no longer the majority, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. (Our analysis includes only counties with a minimum population of 10,000 in 2018. These counties represent 77% of the nation’s 3,142 counties and include 99% of the U.S. population.)
Atheists, agnostics and those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular” all fit into the broad category “religiously unaffiliated.” But there are differences among them: Atheists and agnostics, for instance, know more about religion than those in the “nothing in particular” group, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey designed to measure the U.S. public’s knowledge about a wide range of religious topics.
Here are five key findings from our analysis of responses given by the religiously unaffiliated, also known as religious “nones”:
1Atheists and agnostics know more about religion than most other religious groups, while people who identify as “nothing in particular” are among the least knowledgeable. Out of 32 multiple-choice questions on the survey, atheists and agnostics get more than half right, on average (17.9 and 17.0 questions correct, respectively), while those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” get about a third correct (11.4 questions). This means that atheists and agnostics are among the highest scorers on the survey – along with Jews and evangelical Protestants – while those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” have some of the lowest scores. Americans overall get an average of 14.2 out of 32 questions right.
Black and Hispanic adults remain less likely than whites to say they own a traditional computer or have high speed internet at home, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in early 2019. But smartphones are playing a role in helping to bridge these differences.
Roughly eight-in-ten whites (82%) report owning a desktop or laptop computer, compared with 58% of blacks and 57% of Hispanics. There are also substantial racial and ethnic differences in broadband adoption, with whites being more likely than either blacks or Hispanics to report having a broadband connection at home. (There were not enough Asian respondents in the sample to be broken out into a separate analysis.)
But despite these differences, black and Hispanic adults have mobile devices such as smartphones in shares similar to whites. About eight-in-ten whites, blacks and Hispanics own a smartphone. There are, however, differences between Hispanics born inside and outside the U.S.: 87% of U.S.-born Hispanics own a smartphone, compared with 69% of Hispanics born abroad.
Mobile devices play a larger role for black and Hispanic people when it comes to their online access options. Some 25% of Hispanics and 23% of blacks are “smartphone only” internet users – meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone. By comparison, 12% of whites fall into this category.
What comes to mind when people think of research scientists?
Studies have explored the idea that stereotypes of scientists – like the less-than-warm image of men in white lab coats – could undermine public trust in them or result in deterring diverse groups from pursuing education and jobs in science.
A Pew Research Center survey presented Americans with a list of five desirable and five not-so-desirable qualities and asked whether each describes research scientists well. We found that large majorities see an array of positive qualities in scientists.
About nine-in-ten (89%) of those surveyed think of research scientists as intelligent. Three-quarters (75%) see scientists as focused on solving real-world problems. Similar shares say they consider scientists to be skilled at working in teams (72%) or honest (71%).
Scientists fared less well when Americans were asked if they considered them to be good communicators – a smaller majority (54%) described them this way.
Less than half the public considers each of five potential negative characteristics to fit their image of research scientists. The most common of these are “feel superior to others” and “socially awkward” (43% each say these describe research scientists well).
The recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio – along with a spate of shootings in Chicago – have brought renewed attention to deadly gun violence in the United States. As President Donald Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill contemplate policy responses, here are 10 common questions about gun deaths in the U.S., with answers based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FBI and other sources. You can also explore key public opinion findings about gun violence and gun policy in the U.S. by reading our recent roundup.
How many people die from gun-related injuries in the U.S. each year?
In 2017, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the CDC. This figure includes gun murders and gun suicides, along with three other, less common types of gun-related deaths tracked by the CDC: those that were unintentional, involved law enforcement or whose circumstances could not be determined. It excludes deaths in which gunshot injuries played a contributing, but not principal, role. (CDC fatality statistics are based on information contained in death certificates.)
What share of U.S. gun deaths are murders and what share are suicides?
Though they tend to get less attention than gun-related murders, suicides have long accounted for the majority of U.S. gun deaths. In 2017, six-in-ten gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides (23,854), while 37% were murders (14,542), according to the CDC. The remainder were unintentional (486), involved law enforcement (553) or had undetermined circumstances (338).
More than 50 years after the first episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” Fred Rogers, the creator and host of the popular children’s TV show, is being memorialized on the silver screen. A forthcoming Hollywood movie, in addition to a documentary last year, are bringing renewed attention to Rogers and his familiar refrain, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
A Pew Research Center survey in 2018 explored several aspects of community life in the United States, including neighborly relations. Amid fresh interest in Rogers and his show, here are five facts about how Americans interact with their neighbors, based on the Center’s survey:
1A majority of Americans (57%) say they know only some of their neighbors; far fewer (26%) say they know most of them. Americans ages 65 and older are more likely than those ages 18 to 29 to say they know most of their neighbors (34% vs. 20%). In contrast, about a quarter (23%) of adults under 30 don’t know any of their neighbors, compared with just 4% among those 65 and older.
There are also slight differences based on marital status. Roughly three-in-ten married adults (31%) say they know most of their neighbors, compared with about a quarter or fewer of those who are unmarried (22%); living with a partner (20%); divorced, separated or widowed (26%); or have never been married (19%).
Having children at home isn’t related to stronger ties with neighbors: Parents are just as likely as non-parents to say they know most of their neighbors (26% for each group).
It’s the second full week of August, which means millions of American schoolkids are heading back to school or have already started. And depending on where you live, that statement might produce a reaction of either “That sounds about right” or “That seems way too early!”
Back-to-school dates in the United States, it turns out, vary considerably by state and region, based on our analysis of a sampling of the nation’s 13,000-plus public school districts. By the end of this week, for example, nearly all elementary and secondary school students in the East South Central region – a Census Bureau division that includes Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee – will be back in school. But not a single district in the nine New England and Middle Atlantic states will resume classes before Aug. 26, and many wait until after Labor Day.
Americans owed about $1.5 trillion in student loans at the end of March 2019, more than two times what they owed a decade earlier. The increase has come as historically high shares of young adults in the United States go to college and the cost of higher education increases.
1About one-third of adults under age 30 have student loan debt. Among adults ages 18 to 29, 34% say they have outstanding student loans for their own education. (This includes those with loans currently in deferment or forbearance, but excludes credit card debt and home and other loans taken out for education.) Looking only at young adults with a bachelor’s degree or more education, the share with outstanding student debt rises to 49%.
Student debt is less common among older age groups. Roughly one-in-five adults ages 30 to 44 (22%) have student loan debt, as do 4% of those 45 and older.
While age differences may partly reflect the fact that older adults have had more time to repay their loans, other research has found that young adults are also more likely now than in the past to take out loans to pay for their education. About six-in-ten college seniors ages 18 to 24 took out loans for their education in the 2015-2016 school year, up from about half in the 1999-2000 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The way U.S. teens spend their summer hours is changing. Compared with 10 years ago, teens ages 15 to 17 are devoting more of their time in the summer to educational activities and less time to leisure, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Teens now spend an average of 39 minutes a day – more than four hours a week – engaged in homework or classwork during the month of July, compared with 22 minutes a decade earlier. (This analysis of teens’ summer time use is limited to the month of July to avoid capturing experiences during the very end or beginning of the regular school year.)
Teens now spend about seven and a half hours a day engaged in leisure activities during the summer. While this still accounts for the bulk of their waking hours, it represents a 24-minute decline from a decade ago. This decline has been largely driven by a 22-minute drop in time spent socializing or going to entertainment or sporting events.
Restrictions on religion don’t just affect those who are religious; people who are religiously unaffiliated also are harassed because of what they believe. And the number of countries where religiously unaffiliated people experienced harassment rose sharply in 2017, according to a recent Pew Research Center report.
The religiously unaffiliated (including atheists, agnostics and people who don’t identify with any religion) were harassed by governments, private groups or both in 23 countries in 2017, up from 14 the previous year. The unaffiliated and Buddhists were the only two groups in the study to see an increase in harassment in 2017.
The number of countries where the unaffiliated have faced harassment was much higher in 2017 than in 2012, when Pew Research Center began tracking this type of harassment. In 2012, we found only three countries where nonreligious people faced harassment.
As defined in the study, harassment can include a wide range of activities, from verbal abuse to physical violence and killings. It can be perpetrated by governments as well as private individuals and groups.
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.