A narrow majority of U.S. adults (56%) say they are somewhat or very optimistic about what the country will be like in 2050, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. But optimism gives way to pessimism when Americans are asked about some of the specific ways in which the United States might change.
Most Americans expect income inequality to worsen over the next three decades. Majorities say the economy will be weaker, the nation’s debt burden will be heavier, the environment will be in worse condition and health care will be less affordable than today. Most believe the U.S. will play a less important role in the world. About two-thirds predict that domestic political divisions will become more pronounced. Indeed, Democrats and Republicans have strikingly different priorities when it comes to the policies they believe would help improve the quality of life for future generations.
Below are nine key findings from the survey, which was conducted among 2,524 U.S. adults in December 2018.
1Most Americans expect income gaps to widen, and many see living standards declining. Roughly three-quarters of Americans (73%) say the gap between the rich and the poor will grow wider by 2050. This includes 75% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and 71% of Republicans and GOP leaners – a notable area of agreement between partisans.
While Democrats and Republicans agree that income inequality will grow by 2050, they disagree over the extent to which the federal government should prioritize reducing the gap between the rich and the poor. Roughly six-in-ten Democrats (58%) say this should be a top priority, but only about a quarter of Republicans agree (23%).
More generally, the public is skeptical that the standard of living for average American families will improve in the future: 44% expect the living standard to get worse by 2050, about double the share who believe it will get better (20%). About a third (35%) believe there will be no real change.
New Zealand’s small but growing Muslim population is in the news of late after a terrorist attack left 50 dead and dozens injured at two mosques in Christchurch last week. Many have expressed shock that these attacks could occur in New Zealand, where crime rates are low, mass shootings are rare and people are largely accepting of religious minorities and immigrants. At the same time, world leaders cite the massacres as the latest example of rising nationalism and Islamophobia around the world.
Here are four facts about religion and religious tolerance in New Zealand.
1Almost all New Zealanders said in a 2011-2012 survey that they would accept a neighbor of a different religion. The World Values Survey asked New Zealanders to mention groups of people they would not like to have as a neighbor. The list of choices included “people of a different religion” as well as other possibilities such as drug addicts, heavy drinkers and people of a different race. Among the 841 New Zealanders interviewed, only 12 said they would not like to have a neighbor of a different religion (less than 2% of the sample). Additionally, just 6% reported that they would prefer not to live near an immigrant or foreign worker and only about 3% would not live next to a person of a different race. By comparison, when results from all 58 countries in the 2010-2014 World Values Surveys are combined, about 20% of respondents reported that they would not like to have a neighbor of a different faith.
Under a peer-to-peer evaluation process established in the late 2000s, every member state in the United Nations faces a periodic review of its human rights record by countries on the UN Human Rights Council. But the issues raised in these reviews can vary substantially depending on which countries are doing the reviewing, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.
When the United States was last reviewed by its UN member peers, for example, countries in the Asian and African regional groups raised concerns about racial discrimination, while Latin American and Caribbean nations emphasized migrants’ rights. States in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) often criticized the U.S. for its use of the death penalty.
Human-rights reviews of China and Russia also showed differences depending on the region of the reviewing nations. As they did with the U.S., WEOG countries criticized China over the death penalty, but Asian Group nations (including much of the Middle East) didn’t raise concerns about China’s use of capital punishment at all, focusing more often on economic rights and development.
Numerous measles outbreaks across the United States have renewed a debate over whether parents should be required to vaccinate their children. Some parents express concern that vaccinations could be harmful to their children, but scientific consensus on the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) remains strong and surveys have found that most Americans see childhood vaccinations as beneficial.
In recent weeks, lawmakers in several states that experienced outbreaks have proposed legislation to remove or restrict the types of exemptions parents can claim for their children based on religious or personal beliefs.
Here are some of the key findings from our research on attitudes about childhood vaccination:
1Most Americans believe the health benefits of the MMR vaccine are high and the risks are low. In a 2016 survey, 73% of U.S. adults said the health benefits of the MMR vaccine are high, while 66% saw the risk of side effects as low. Overall, 88% said the benefits of the MMR vaccine outweigh the risks, while 10% said the risks outweigh the benefits.
2About eight-in-ten Americans favor school-based vaccine requirements. Some 82% of U.S. adults said MMR vaccination should be a requirement “in order to attend public schools because of the potential risk for others when children are not vaccinated.” Meanwhile, 17% of Americans believed that “parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their children, even if that may create health risks for other children and adults.” Majorities of Americans across demographic and educational groups supported school requirements for the MMR vaccine, although older adults were more likely than their younger counterparts to say vaccinations should be required to attend school (90% of adults ages 65 and older vs. 77% of those 18 to 49).
Women make up 24% of members of national legislative bodies around the world, a share that has ticked up over the past decade but remains far smaller than their share of the overall world population, according to an analysis of data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
At the end of 2008, by comparison, just 18% of the members of upper and lower parliamentary bodies around the world were women. The largest increases in female representation between 2008 and this year occurred in Central America (13 percentage points), the Middle East and North Africa (9 points) and Western Europe (8 points).
Despite this growth, there are fewer women than men holding legislative seats collectively in every world region. As such, no region has reached gender parity in the share of women in its countries’ legislatures.
When accounting for the total number of legislative seats in each country, only three nations – Rwanda, Cuba and Bolivia – have reached or surpassed gender parity. (However, women hold fewer than half of seats in the upper chambers in Bolivia and Rwanda.)
As a region, the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – come closest to gender parity, with women accounting for 43% of parliamentary members. The highest share is in Sweden, where women hold 47% of legislative seats. By comparison, in Denmark, 37% of seats are held by women. Shares in the remaining Nordic countries hover around 40%.
More than two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, white evangelical Protestants in the United States continue to overwhelmingly support him, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data. Other religious groups, however, are more divided in their views of the president.
Roughly seven-in-ten white evangelical Protestants (69%) say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, according to the Center’s latest polling in January 2019. This is somewhat lower than Trump’s approval rating in the earliest days of his tenure – when about eight-in-ten white evangelicals (78%) approved of his job performance – but is in line with most polls conducted by the Center since the inauguration.
A challenging aspect of designing opinion surveys in countries with different cultures and languages is making sure we understand what people are thinking about the subject we’re studying, in their own words. So when we began our recent study of mobile phone and social media use in 11 emerging economies, we started by conducting focus groups with diverse participants in four of the countries studied: Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom this week announced a moratorium on executions in his state, a move that will affect 737 inmates on the largest death row in the country. The decision marks a significant change in policy, but not in practice: California is one of 11 states that have capital punishment on the books but have not carried out an execution in more than a decade.
Overall, 30 states, the federal government and the U.S. military authorize the death penalty, while 20 states and the District of Columbia do not, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an information clearinghouse that has been critical of capital punishment. But more than a third of the states that allow executions – along with the federal government and the U.S. military – haven’t carried one out in at least 10 years or, in some cases, much longer.
California’s last execution took place in 2006. The other states that have capital punishment but haven’t used it more than a decade are New Hampshire (last execution in 1939); Kansas (1965); Wyoming (1992); Colorado and Oregon (both 1997); Pennsylvania (1999); Montana, Nevada and North Carolina (all 2006); and Kentucky (2008).
In France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish population, reports of anti-Semitic incidents rose dramatically in 2018. There were 541 cases reported last year – not as high as in some previous years, but a 74% increase from 2017, according to the country’s Ministère de l’Intérieur. And already in 2019, there have been several new high-profile anti-Semitic incidents, including swastikas being spray-painted on graves in a Jewish cemetery.
Prominent though these incidents may be, they run counter to public opinion in France. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that a majority of French adults reject negative Jewish stereotypes and express an accepting attitude toward Jews.
In the survey, conducted in France and 14 other Western European countries, the Center asked whether people agreed or disagreed with two strongly worded negative statements: “Jews always pursue their own interests and not the interest of the country they live in,” and “Jews always overstate how much they have suffered.” Roughly seven-in-ten or more French respondents either completely or mostly disagreed with these statements, while about one-in-five completely or mostly agreed with them.
To gauge the extent of anti-Jewish sentiment in another way, the survey also asked Western European adults if they would be willing to accept Jews as neighbors or members of their family. Nine-in-ten French adults said they would be willing to accept Jews as neighbors, while roughly three-quarters (76%) said they would accept Jews as members of their family. These figures are at or near the median for the 15 countries where both questions were asked. (In Germany and the United Kingdom, where reported anti-Semitic incidents rose nearly 10% and 16% last year, respectively, the shares of adults saying they would accept Jews as neighbors and relatives were somewhat similar to those in France.)
For the most recent estimates of the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population, see this post published June 12, 2019.
Most of the United States’ 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants live in just 20 major metropolitan areas, with the largest populations in New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on government data.
The nation’s unauthorized immigrant population is highly concentrated, more so than the U.S. population overall. In 2016, the 20 metro areas with the most unauthorized immigrants were home to 6.5 million of them, or 61% of the estimated nationwide total. By contrast, only 37% of the total U.S. population lived in those metro areas.
The number of unauthorized immigrants in these 20 metros has declined sharply since 2007, when 7.7 million of them lived in these areas. These metro areas account for much of a national decline of the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population over the past decade.
By far the biggest unauthorized immigrant populations in 2016 were in the New York (1.1 million) and Los Angeles metro areas (925,000). Both metros had unauthorized immigrant populations that exceeded the statewide total in every state except California and Texas. No other metro area approached a million. Meanwhile, the smallest unauthorized immigrant populations among the top 20 areas were in Austin and Charlotte (100,000 each).
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.