This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which was the first time humans set foot on the moon. The United States remains the only country to have put people on the moon, and, as of 2018, the large majority of Americans consider it essential that the U.S. continue to be a leader in space exploration. However, many Americans do not think future manned trips to the moon – or to Mars – should be a high priority for NASA. Instead, they put higher priority on other roles such as monitoring Earth’s climate or asteroids that could hit Earth.
Here are six Pew Research Center findings about Americans’ views of space travel.
1Most Americans think sending astronauts to Mars or the moon should be a lower priority for NASA – or say it should not be done at all. While a majority of Americans (58%) said in a 2018 survey that human astronauts are essential to the future of the U.S. space program, less than one-in-five describe sending human astronauts to Mars (18%) or the moon (13%) as top priorities for NASA. Americans are more likely to rate these goals as “important but lower priorities” (45% and 42%, respectively), or to say they are not important or should not be done at all (37% and 44%).
NASA has not put a human on the surface of the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. But just last month, NASA announced plans to put the first woman on the moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. The program also aims to put human beings on the surface of Mars by the 2030s.
Pew Research Center conducts polls in many countries other than the United States. But the methodology behind our international surveys can vary from country to country, and what works in one place might not work in another.
In the latest installment of our Methods 101 video series, we look at some of the challenges of international polling. These include government restrictions on survey work, political or social instability that can make it unsafe for interviewers to do their jobs, and a lack of qualified partners who can help administer surveys locally.
Pew Research Center just published its 10th annual report analyzing restrictions on religion (by both governments and individuals or groups in society) around the world. This year’s report differs from past reports because it focuses on changes that have occurred over the course of a decade, covering 2007 to 2017, rather than emphasizing year-to-year variations. Another new approach this year involves splitting each of two broad types of religious restrictions – government restrictions and social hostilities – into four subcategories. This provides a clearer picture of the specific types of religious restrictions that people face – and how they are changing over time.
Here are key findings from the report:
1Government restrictions on religion have increased globally between 2007 and 2017 in all four categories studied: favoritism of religious groups, general laws and policies restricting religious freedom, harassment of religious groups, and limits on religious activity. The most common types of restrictions globally have consistently been the first two. Governments often enshrine favoritism toward a certain religious group or groups in their constitutions or basic laws. And general laws and policies restricting religious freedom can cover a wide range of restrictions, including a requirement that religious groups register in order to operate. But one of the more striking increases involved the category of government limits on religious activities, which can include limits or requirements on religious dress. The global mean score in this category rose by about 44% between 2007 and 2017.
President Donald Trump is a prolific Twitter user, using the social media site to promote his policies and criticize his opponents. But determining just how many Americans follow Trump on the platform is more challenging than it may sound: Twitter, after all, is an international platform used by institutional accounts and bots as well as living, breathing people in the United States.
A new Pew Research Center analysis estimates that around one-in-five adult Twitter users in the U.S. (19%) follow Trump’s personal account on the platform, @realDonaldTrump. Trump’s immediate predecessor, Barack Obama (@BarackObama), is followed by 26% of U.S. adult Twitter users. Bill Clinton is the only other former president with a public Twitter account, followed by 6% of adult users. (George W. Bush has a private account and former president Jimmy Carter does not have a personal Twitter account.)
The analysis goes beyond simply counting each president’s number of followers, which can include institutional or automated accounts, people in other countries and people younger than 18. Instead, it is based on a nationally representative sample of 2,388 U.S. adults who use Twitter and gave the Center permission to review their personal accounts, including who they follow. Researchers identified any accounts each respondent followed between December 2018 and July 2019.
The way Pew Research Center calculates the estimated number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States is the product of decades of work by Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer, along with former colleagues at the U.S. Census Bureau and the Urban Institute. Passel has written numerous studies on the demography of immigration and on immigration issues. Following are his answers to some common questions about the research techniques used to derive the unauthorized immigrant population estimate.
What were the challenges in developing the estimate of unauthorized immigrants?
I’ve been working on this problem since roughly 1979. So, it’s not a new one. When we started, there really wasn’t very good information at all. The numbers available were speculative, with a very broad range. People were talking about maybe 6 million, maybe 12 million – all of which turned out to be too high. I was working at the Census Bureau and it was important to get some sound, empirical information on this population. We needed the numbers for a lot of different purposes at the time. The challenge was finding data sources that included unauthorized immigrants. We weren’t sure they were showing up in the census and our surveys, but as we looked into the issue, it became apparent that our standard data sources did include unauthorized immigrants. That discovery led us to a variation of the methodology we’re still using.
Depression has become increasingly common among American teenagers – especially teen girls, who are now almost three times as likely as teen boys to have had recent experiences with depression.
In 2017, 13% of U.S. teens ages 12 to 17 (or 3.2 million) said they had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year, up from 8% (or 2 million) in 2007, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
One-in-five teenage girls – or nearly 2.4 million – had experienced at least one major depressive episode (the proxy measure of depression used in this analysis) over the past year in 2017. By comparison, 7% of teenage boys (or 845,000) had at least one major depressive episode in the past 12 months.
Americans have complicated views about the role social media companies should play in removing offensive content from their platforms.
A sizable majority of U.S. adults (66%) say social media companies have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms, but just 31% have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in these companies to determine what offensive content should be removed.
A further twist: Nearly half (48%) say that in thinking about the kind of language people use, it is “hard to know what others might find offensive,” according to a recent Pew Research Center survey on the tone of political debate in the United States.
Opinions about the role social media companies should play in addressing offensive content are divided by partisanship, gender and age. Republican men – particularly younger men – stand out for their view that social media companies do not have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms. (A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that Republican men also were less likely than Republican women – and Democratic women or men – to say online harassment was a major problem.)
How much do people feel that what happens to members of their own racial or ethnic group affects what happens in their own lives? What about what happens to other groups? Known among researchers as “linked fate,” this sense of connectedness was originally used to explain persistent Democratic voting bloc patterns among black Americans. More recently it has been used to examine not only how closely connected black Americans feel toward one another, but also connectedness between and among other racial groups.
A recent Pew Research Center survey finds that racial or ethnic group membership, education and partisanship are the most important determinants of linked fate within and across racial groups. For blacks and Hispanics specifically, experiences of discrimination increase the likelihood of saying that what happens to the other group would affect them.
When asked how much what happens to blacks, whites, Hispanics and Asians in the United States affects their own lives, U.S. adults say that what happens to their own racial or ethnic group affects them the most. This is most pronounced among black adults: 44% in this group say that what happens to other blacks impacts their own lives a lot. And it is especially true for black adults with a bachelor’s degree or more education, 58% of whom say that what happens to other black people affects them a lot compared with 49% of those with some college and 33% with a high school diploma or less education. There are no gender or age differences among black people in this regard.
Four of the 10 most populous countries in the world will no longer be among the top 10 in 2100 – and all four will be supplanted by rapidly growing nations in Africa, according to recently released population projections from the United Nations.
Brazil, Bangladesh, Russia and Mexico are among the world’s 10 most populous countries today. By 2100, they are projected to be overtaken by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Egypt – none of which are currently in the top 10.
This changing of the guard is expected to occur because of sluggish population growth over the next eight decades in Mexico (+10% by 2100) and population losses in Brazil (-15%), Bangladesh (-8%) and Russia (-14%). Each of the four African countries, by contrast, is expected to more than double in population, with increases of 304% in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 156% in Ethiopia, 378% in Tanzania and 120% in Egypt.
Here’s how the list of the 10 most populous countries in the world has changed since 1950 – and how it is projected to change again by 2100:
Africa’s rapid population growth is one of the dominant stories to emerge from the UN’s projections. Of the six countries that are projected to account for more than half of all world population growth by 2100, five are in Africa, as a previous Pew Research Center analysis noted. Half the world’s babies will be born in Africa by 2100, up from three-in-ten today.
Nearly 18 years since the start of the war in Afghanistan and 16 years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, majorities of U.S. military veterans say those wars were not worth fighting, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of veterans. A parallel survey of American adults finds that the public shares those sentiments.
Among veterans, 64% say the war in Iraq was not worth fighting considering the costs versus the benefits to the United States, while 33% say it was. The general public’s views are nearly identical: 62% of Americans overall say the Iraq War wasn’t worth it and 32% say it was. Similarly, majorities of both veterans (58%) and the public (59%) say the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting. About four-in-ten or fewer say it was worth fighting.
Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan are no more supportive of those engagements than those who did not serve in these wars. And views do not differ based on rank or combat experience.
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.