Donald Trump made fighting crime a central focus of his campaign for president, and he cited it again during his January 2017 inaugural address. His administration has since taken steps intended to address crime in American communities, such as instructing federal prosecutors to pursue the strongest possible charges against criminal suspects. Here are five facts about crime in the United States.
1Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century. The two most commonly cited sources of crime statistics in the U.S. both show a substantial decline in the violent crime rate since it peaked in the early 1990s. One is an annual report by the FBI of serious crimes reported to police in more than 18,500 jurisdictions around the country. The other is a nationally representative annual survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which asks approximately 160,000 Americans ages 12 and older whether they were victims of crime, regardless of whether they reported those crimes to the police.
Using the FBI numbers, the violent crime rate fell 51% between 1993 and 2018. Using the BJS data, the rate fell 71% during that span. The long-term decline in violent crime hasn’t been uninterrupted, though. The FBI, for instance, reported increases in the violent crime rate between 2004 and 2006 and again between 2014 and 2016. Violent crime includes offenses such as rape, robbery and assault.
Despite deep partisan divisions on the issue, there has been a modest rise in support for stricter gun laws in the United States since 2017, a new Pew Research Center survey has found.
In addition, while opinion on most gun policies has changed little in recent years, somewhat more Americans favor banning high capacity ammunition magazines today (71%) than did so two years ago (65%).
Overall, the share of Americans who say gun laws in the U.S. should be made stricter has increased from 52% in 2017 to 60% this year, according to a survey conducted in September. The share of those saying gun laws should be less strict has dropped from 18% in 2017 to 11% today.
As with attitudes on many gun-related issues, there are sharp partisan divides about whether gun laws should be stricter. Currently, 86% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor stricter gun laws, compared with 31% of Republicans and Republican leaners. The share of Democrats who support stricter gun laws has risen 11 percentage points since 2017, while there has been 7-point increase in support among Republicans.
Results of a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in 14 European Union member states and the United States indicate that American and European values sometimes vary when it comes to key areas affecting their lives: the factors important to democracy, evaluations of the state, LGBT rights and gender, the importance of religion and the paths to a successful life. Here is what we found in these five areas:
1Americans and Western Europeans largely agree about what is important for democracy, but they put greater emphasis on these principles than Central and Eastern Europeans. Across nine democratic traits asked about in the survey, Americans and Western Europeans were both likely to be in agreement on what was “very important” on most issues. Roughly nine-in-ten Americans (93%) and a median of 90% of Western Europeans say it’s very important to have a fair judiciary. In comparison, a median of 77% in Central and Eastern Europe say a fair judiciary is very important. Americans are about as likely as Western Europeans to say that honest, regular elections with at least two parties are very important for the country, and both see this as more important than most in Central and Eastern Europe.
One issue where Americans stand out slightly from their Western European counterparts is the importance they place on censorship-free media. Eight-in-ten Americans think it’s very important that the media be able to report freely without government intervention, while a median of 72% of Western Europeans say the same, ranging from a high of 89% in Greece to a low of 56% in Italy. Opinion also varies markedly across Central and Eastern Europe, from a high of 76% in Hungary to a low of 56% in Slovakia.
In 1991, Pew Research Center’s predecessor organization, the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press, conducted a groundbreaking survey in Europe shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We returned to the same set of countries in 2009 to explore how public opinion had changed – and are doing so again today, with the release of a new survey that explores European attitudes three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Here are 10 key takeaways from the new survey, which was conducted from May 13 to Aug. 12, 2019, among 18,979 adults in 14 European Union member nations – plus Russia, Ukraine and the United States, for comparison purposes.
1On balance, people across the former Soviet bloc nations approve of the changeover to a multiparty electoral system and free market economy. Majorities in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania and the area corresponding to former East Germany all rate these transitions favorably.
However, those in Russia are less likely to approve of the democratic and capitalist changeover. In fact, 63% of Russians agree it is a misfortune the Soviet Union no longer exists.
National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year, celebrates U.S. Latinos, their culture and their history. Started in 1968 by Congress as Hispanic Heritage Week, it was expanded to a month in 1988. The celebration begins in the middle rather than the start of September because it coincides with national independence days in several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrate theirs on Sept. 15, followed by Mexico on Sept. 16, Chile on Sept. 18 and Belize on Sept 21.
Here are some key facts about the nation’s Latino population by age, geography and origin groups.
Depending on where you live and whom you work for, Columbus Day may be a paid day off, another holiday entirely, or no different from any regular Monday.
Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, is one of the most inconsistently celebrated U.S. holidays. It’s one of 10 official federal holidays, which means federal workers get a paid day off. And because federal offices will be closed, so will most banks and the bond markets that trade in U.S. government debt (though the stock markets will remain open).
Beyond that, it’s a grab bag. Only 21 states (plus American Samoa and Puerto Rico) give their workers Columbus Day as a paid holiday, according to the Council of State Governments’ comprehensive “Book of the States” (supplemented by Pew Research Center research). Tennessee officially does so too, but on a completely different day – the governor can, and routinely does, move the observance to the Friday after Thanksgiving, to facilitate four-day weekends. Columbus, Ohio, no longer observes its namesake’s holiday, though Columbus, Georgia, still does. And three states and the District of Columbia give their workers a paid holiday on the second Monday in October, but under another name.
The vast majority of people across 15 countries in Western Europe and in the United States say they would be willing to accept Muslims as neighbors. Slightly lower shares on both sides of the Atlantic say they would be willing to accept a Muslim as a family member.
At the same time, there is no consensus on whether Islam fits into these societies. Across Western Europe, people are split on Islam’s compatibility with their country’s culture and values, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. And in the U.S., public opinion remains about evenly divided on whether Islam is part of mainstream American society and if Islam is compatible with democracy, according to a 2017 poll.
The vast majority of non-Muslim Americans (89%) say they would be willing to accept Muslims as neighbors, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The same survey finds that most people (79%) say they would be willing to accept Muslims as members of their family.
The United States plans to admit a maximum of 18,000 refugees in fiscal year 2020, down from a cap of 30,000 in the one that ended Sept. 30, 2019, under a new refugee admissions ceiling set by the Trump administration. This would be the lowest number of refugees resettled by the U.S. in a single year since 1980, when Congress created the nation’s refugee resettlement program.
Even before the administration’s announcement, refugee resettlement in the U.S. had dropped to historic lows during Donald Trump’s presidency, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of State Department data. As a result, the U.S. is no longer the world’s top country for refugee admissions. It had previously led the world on this measure for decades, admitting more refugees each year than all other countries combined.
The decline in U.S. refugee admissions comes at a time when the number of refugees worldwide has reached the highest levels since World War II.
Here are key facts from our research about refugees entering the United States:
The Supreme Court holds a unique place in American government. Sitting justices have lifetime tenure and can influence public policy long after the presidents who nominated them – and the senators who confirmed them – have departed. Partisans have often battled over these nominations because of the court’s ability to reshape or strike down laws favored by one side or another.
The court begins a new term on Oct. 7, taking up cases on guns, abortion and gay rights, among other issues. As the term begins, here are five facts about the Supreme Court, based on surveys and other recent research by Pew Research Center.
1The public’s opinion of the Supreme Court has rebounded after falling to a 30-year low in the summer of 2015. Around six-in-ten Americans (62%) have a favorable view of the high court and 31% have an unfavorable view, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in July. The share of Americans with a favorable view of the court is 14 percentage points higher than in July 2015, when only around half (48%) approved. The 2015 survey was conducted in the wake of a term that saw the justices uphold the Affordable Care Act and legalize same-sex marriage; it found that views of the court were strongly linked to views of these high-profile issues.
A majority of Americans are skeptical of the impact that industry funding has on scientific research and on the recommendations made by practitioners, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. The public is somewhat more positive – though still ambivalent – about the effects of government funding on research and practitioner recommendations.
Most U.S. adults (58%) say they trust scientific research findings less if they hear that the research was funded by an industry group. About a third (32%) say industry funding makes no difference in whether they trust research, while only 10% say they trust industry-funded research findings more.
The pattern is similar when it comes to trusting science practitioners’ recommendations. Around six-in-ten Americans (62%) say they trust practitioner recommendations less when they hear the practitioner received financial incentives from an industry group. Around a quarter (27%) say such incentives make no difference; 10% say they trust practitioner recommendations more under these circumstances.
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.
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