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Pew Research Center Looks at Where We Are Now
by
Posted On June 8, 2021
NewsBreaks often covers recent surveys and reports from Pew Research Center, “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.” Its website has 12 topic sections, each showcasing the latest research, which is collected in reports, fact sheets, or other formats that extrapolate respondents’ answers to cover the entire U.S. (or other) population. The reports have a summary page that includes the methodology for how the information was collected and a link to download and read the full report.

The following are some of the latest 2021 reports (not every topic section is represented, because some reports overlap topics).

NewsBreaks’ previous roundups of Pew Research Center’s research:

October 2017 | March 2018 | October 2018 | March 2019 | October 2019 | March 2020 | December 2020

Politics & Policy

The May 17 report, “Americans See Broad Responsibilities for Government; Little Change Since 2019,” shows that while public trust in the federal government is low, percentages of people believe that it should offer certain services. These include providing clean air and water (with 87% naming this as something the government should do), high-quality K–12 education for all (79%), health insurance (64%), adequate income in retirement (58%), an adequate standard of living (56%), access to high-speed internet (43%), and a college education (39%). Majorities of Democrats and Democrat-leaners think all seven are government domains, but only two areas have majorities of Republican and Republican-leaning support: providing clean air and water and high-quality K–12 education.

Republicans and Democrats Move Further Apart in Views of Voting Access” from April 22 shares that overall majorities agree that it should be easier to register to vote and to vote, but there are partisan divisions, with Republicans’ views having changed more than Democrats’. In 2018, 49% of Republicans and Republican-leaners supported automatically registering eligible citizens to vote, with only 38% supporting that today. Now, 38% of Republicans and Republican-leaners say voting early or by absentee ballot without a documented reason should be allowed, compared to 57% in 2018. As for Democrats, their views are virtually unchanged, with 82% believing eligible citizens should automatically be registered to vote and 84% backing no-excuse early voting. Majorities of both parties support requiring electronic voting machines to print paper ballots as backups and instituting early, in-person voting at least 2 weeks before Election Day.

The report from April 20, “Amid a Series of Mass Shootings in the U.S., Gun Policy Remains Deeply Divisive,” states that a majority (53%) of Americans think gun laws should be stricter than they are, with that splitting by party: 81% of Democrats and Democrat-leaners agree, and 20% of Republicans and Republican-leaners agree. And 73% of Democrats “say making it harder to legally obtain guns would lead to fewer mass shootings,” with just 20% of Republicans saying this. Is gun violence “a very big problem for the country today”? Well, 73% of Democrats say yes, and 18% of Republicans say yes. Regardless of party, 81% believe in background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows.

International Affairs

Views About National Identity Becoming More Inclusive in U.S., Western Europe,” from May 5, shows that in the U.S., France, Germany, and the U.K., people are less likely than in 2016 to believe that to be truly American, French, German, or British, someone must be born in the country, be Christian, follow national customs, or speak the dominant language. In 2018, 54% of Americans thought that immigrants want to follow the customs and ways of life in their adopted country, compared to 65% now. In each of the four countries, at least 40% think people should try to avoid offending others—i.e., become more politically correct—but around half in every country besides Germany think people are too easily offended these days.

The March 31 report was “Many in U.S., Western Europe Say Their Political System Needs Major Reform.” Studying the U.S., France, Germany, and the U.K., it shows that majorities in every country but Germany think “their political system needs major changes or needs to be completely reformed.” Americans are most likely to believe that their politicians are corrupt (at two-thirds), with about half in France and the U.K. saying the same thing. In France and Germany, the percentage of people who think elected officials do care about them has increased since 2018. In France, 20% trusted the government in 2017; now 55% do.

On March 18, Pew published “The Pandemic Stalls Growth in the Global Middle Class, Pushes Poverty Up Sharply,” which shows that the global middle class had 1.32 billion people in it in 2020 (54 million fewer people than the number projected before the pandemic began, which was 1.38 billion). The global middle class is defined here as having an annual income of $14,600–$29,200 for a family of four. The number of global poor people has grown 131 million higher because of the ensuing recession (from the estimate of 672 million to 803 million), while the number of people in the high-income tier decreased by 62 million in 2020 (from the estimate of 593 million to 531 million). The middle class in South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific stalled the most, with India and sub-Saharan Africa seeing the biggest increase in poverty.

Immigration & Migration

The April 20 report, “Most Latinos Say U.S. Immigration System Needs Big Changes” finds that 53% of Latinos believe the system “requires major changes,” 29% believe “it needs to be completely rebuilt,” and 17% believe it “needs no or only minor changes.” At least 75% of Latinos in both political parties agree that the immigration system needs to change, although Democrats and Republicans have different ideas about how to do it. When it comes to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children (i.e., “Dreamers”), 52% of Latinos think they should be able to apply for legal status. And when it comes to illegal immigrants who are currently in the country, 51% of Latinos say there should be a way for them to stay as legal residents. As for other policies, 40% say it should be easier for U.S. citizens or legal residents to sponsor family members who are immigrating to the U.S., 37% say the government should do more to stop immigrants from staying beyond their visas, and 32% say the government should encourage highly skilled workers to immigrate to the U.S.

Race & Ethnicity

The May 14 report is “Black and Hispanic Americans See Their Origins as Central to Who They Are, Less So for White Adults.” Overall, 60% of U.S. adults are “very familiar” with their origins, but only 46% have a “strong connection” to their cultural roots. Majorities of Hispanic and Black adults feel their origin is “central to their identity,” with about a quarter of white adults saying so. A 2019 survey found that about 25% of adults who had taken a DNA test were surprised when they got the results of their background.

Religion

Jewish Americans in 2020,” from May 11, notes two divergent expressions of Jewish culture among young Jewish adults: one has religion “deeply enmeshed in every aspect of life,” and the other participates in “little or no religion at all.” Being Jewish “ethnically, culturally, or by family background” but not identifying with the religious aspect is true of 27% of Jewish adults, with 40% of Jewish adults younger than 30 saying this. However, young Jewish adults are more likely to be Orthodox—17% of Jewish adults ages 18–29 and 3% of Jewish adults ages 65 and older identify themselves this way. The youngest Jewish adults have relatively large numbers of both those who are traditionally observant and those who are culturally Jewish but not connected to Judaism at all. Cultural activities, such as cooking Jewish foods, overlap both groups. As of 2020, there are about 2.4% of U.S. adults who identify as Jewish in one of these ways.

The March 30 report is “Most Democrats and Republicans Know Biden Is Catholic, but They Differ Sharply About How Religious He Is.” President Joe Biden is the second Catholic president (the first was John F. Kennedy). The report states that 63% of Democrats and Democrat-leaners say they know this, and 55% of Republicans and Republican-leaners say they know this. Of Catholic Democrats, 79% say President Biden “mentions his religious faith and prayer about the right amount,” and 42% of Catholic Republicans agree with this. Notably, 55% of Catholic Republicans think he should not receive Communion because of his view on abortion, while 13% of Catholic Democrats think this. However, smaller percentages think other topics should disqualify someone from receiving Communion—19% of Catholics think disagreement with the church over homosexuality should be a disqualifier, 18% think so for views on the death penalty, and 10% think so for views on immigration.

The report from Feb. 16 looks at “Faith Among Black Americans.” A majority of Black adults who attend religious services (60%) go to predominantly Black churches, but young Black adults are less religious and less involved in Black churches than older generations. Protestantism continues to be the majority, with 66% of Black adults identifying as Protestant, 6% identifying as Catholic, and 3% choosing other Christian denominations (mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses). And 3% belong to non-Christian religious faiths, with Islam being the most popular. In addition, 21% of Black adults are not affiliated with a religion. Black churches are seen as playing a role in helping reach racial equality—about 75% of Black adults say they have “some” role, and 30% say they’ve done “a great deal”—and about 50% say that Black Muslim organizations, including the Nation of Islam, “have contributed at least some in this regard.”

Gender & LGBT

The March 17 report is “The Pandemic Has Highlighted Many Challenges for Mothers, But They Aren’t Necessarily New.” It shows that mothers were more likely than fathers to say that they were responsible for childcare while working (at 36% versus 16%). Working mothers with children younger than 12 were more likely than fathers to say it was “somewhat difficult” to handle childcare during the pandemic (at 57% versus 47%). In 2019, employed mothers were more likely than employed fathers to say being a parent made it harder to advance their career (50% versus 39%). In 2019, 59% of women in heterosexual relationships said they did more than their partner to handle household chores and responsibilities, and 78% said they did more to manage children’s schedules and activities. All of these percentages stayed about the same when studied during the pandemic.

Economy & Work

First-Generation College Graduates Lag Behind Their Peers on Key Economic Outcomes,” from May 18, shows that heads of households who have at least a bachelor’s degree and who have a parent with the same degree or more have “substantially higher” incomes and are wealthier than people who are the first generation in their family to graduate college (a median of $135,800 versus $99,600). And those with at least one college-educated parent are more likely to graduate than others who have less-educated parents. Second-generation college graduates are more likely to come from wealthy families, while first-generation college graduates have more instances of and a greater amount of education debt.

Science

On April 1, the report was “STEM Jobs See Uneven Progress in Increasing Gender, Racial and Ethnic Diversity.” It shows that women are a large majority of healthcare workers, but they aren’t as represented in other sectors, such as the physical sciences, computing, and engineering. Hispanic workers make up 17% of the total workforce, but 8% are STEM workers. Meanwhile, 9% of Black workers are in STEM jobs, with 5% in engineering and architecture jobs. As for STEM education, Black students earned 7% of STEM bachelor’s degrees in 2018, and 12% of Hispanic students earned that same degree; women earned 53% of STEM college degrees.

Internet & Technology

On April 7, the report was “Social Media Use in 2021,” which finds that over the past 5 years, social media use has remained pretty stable in the U.S.: About 70% of U.S. adults use any kind of social media site. The most popular options are YouTube (with 81% using it) and Facebook (with 69% using it); then comes Instagram (40%), Pinterest (31%), LinkedIn (28%), Snapchat (25%), and Twitter (23%). Among 18- to 29-year-olds, YouTube leads with 95%, followed by Instagram (71%), Facebook (70%), Snapchat (65%), TikTok (48%), and Twitter (42%). Those ages 30–49 and 50–64 favor YouTube and Facebook, and those 65 and older use Facebook the most (at 50%).

News Habits & Media

The report from April 28 is titled “At 100 Day Mark: Coverage of Biden Has Been Slightly More Negative Than Positive, Varied Greatly by Outlet Type.” Here’s how it breaks down: 32% of stories were negative (78% of them came from outlets with right-leaning audiences), 23% were positive, and 45% were neither positive nor negative. The majority of stories (65%) focused on the president’s ideology and policy agenda, with 35% looking at his character and leadership. The second part of this report was an analysis of a survey that studied the public’s reactions of the news coverage: 46% said the coverage they’d seen so far was mostly positive. When asked about specific administration initiatives, 77% said they’d heard a lot about the economic stimulus package, and 74% heard a lot about vaccine distribution.

Large Majorities of Newsmax and OAN News Consumers Also Go to Fox News,” from March 23, studies alternative media outlets Newsmax and One America News (OAN). There are about 30% of Democrats and Democrat-leaners who watch Fox News, but “virtually none” of them go to the other two outlets. About equal percentages of white, Black, and Hispanic Americans make use of Fox News, while Newsmax and OAN have an audience of mostly older, white Americans. In general, 43% of Americans go to Fox News for political news, with 10% going to Newsmax and 7% going to OAN. Fox News’ viewership for political news has gone up from 39% in 2019. Additional outlets studied are HuffPost (with 9% using it for news), The Hill (8%), and The Sean Hannity Show (7%).

The Jan. 12 report, “News Use Across Social Media Platforms in 2020,” finds that 53% of U.S. adults get their news from social media “often” or “sometimes,” with Facebook the most popular source, at 36%. Then there’s YouTube, at 23%, followed by Twitter (15%), Instagram (11%), and Reddit (6%), with other sites getting small percentages. But the users are loyal: 59% of Twitter users go to the site “regularly” for news, along with 42% of Reddit users. Women are more likely to use Facebook and Instagram than men, and men are more drawn to YouTube and Twitter.  


Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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