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Pew Research Center News
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Posted On March 5, 2019
NewsBreaks often covers the latest surveys and reports from Pew Research Center, “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.” Its website has eight topic sections, each of which showcases 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.

For NewsBreaks’ previous roundups of Pew’s research, click here (October 2017), here (March 2018), and here (October 2018). The following are some of the latest reports from each section.

U.S. Politics

Democrats are the most likely people to be uncomfortable when having political disagreements, a Nov. 5, 2018, report says. “More Now Say It’s ‘Stressful’ to Discuss Politics With People They Disagree With” shows that 57% of Democrats find political conversations with people they don’t agree with “stressful and frustrating.” Meanwhile, 49% of Republicans feel the same way. Overall, 53% of Americans find these conversations stressful, yet 45% find them “interesting and informative.”

The Nov. 29, 2018, report, “Conflicting Partisan Priorities for U.S. Foreign Policy,” puts preventing terrorism and protecting U.S. jobs at the top of the public agenda for the country, with 72% and 71% of people indicating that, respectively. Next, 66% of people prioritize preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Democrats prioritize improving relationships with U.S. allies (at 70%), but only 44% of Republicans see that as very important. And 62% of adults age 50 and older want to maintain U.S. military superiority as a top priority, but only 30% of adults younger than 30 do. Other topics covered in the report include refugees and immigration, climate change, and trade and economic relations.

Public’s 2019 Priorities: Economy, Health Care, Education and Security All Near Top of List,” from Jan. 24, 2019, tracks the topics that the public considers the “to-do list” for the president and the 116th Congress. Improving the economy is the top priority for 70% of people, and 67% of people put high priority on defending the country from future terrorist attacks. Reducing healthcare costs and improving the educational system rank as a top priority for 69% and 68%, respectively. Reducing the budget deficit is a priority for 48%.

Media & News

The Oct. 30, 2018, report, “Western Europeans Under 30 View News Media Less Positively, Rely More on Digital Platforms Than Older Adults,” finds that adults ages 18−29 in eight Western European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K.) are about twice as likely as older adults (those age 50 and older) to get news online than from TV. They are less trusting of the news media in general than older adults (in five of the eight countries surveyed), although a range of 75% to 94% of adults younger than 30 say that the news media are important to society.

Americans Still Prefer Watching to Reading the News—and Mostly Still Through Television,” from Dec. 3, 2018, shows that 47% of U.S. adults would rather watch the news than read it (34% of people) or listen to it (19% of people). The most popular platform for getting news is TV, preferred by 75% of those who want to watch the news (20% would rather watch it online). Readers of the news like getting it on the web, with 63% preferring online to print. Listeners gravitate to the radio most (52%).

Social Trends

The Jan. 17, 2019, report, “Generation Z Looks a Lot Like Millennials on Key Social and Political Issues,” explores how members of Generation Z, who were ages 13−21 in 2018, stack up against Millennials (who are now in their 20s and 30s) and older generations. It finds that 30% of Gen Zers and 29% of Millennials approve of how the president is performing. (38% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers, and 54% of the Silent Generation feel the same way.) Gen Zers and Millennials are more likely than older generations to say that black people are treated less fairly than white people in the U.S. today, and they are more likely to say that racial and ethnic diversity in the country is a good thing for society. Gen Zers diverge from Millennials in some ways; for example, they are more likely to say they know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, and they are more likely to say that forms asking about gender should include more than two options.

Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression as a Major Problem Among Their Peers,” from Feb. 20, 2019, asserts that anxiety and depression are increasing among teens (ages 13−17). Even if they don’t personally face these problems, seven in 10 teens across various gender, racial, and socioeconomic lines say they are “a significant issue” for their community. More than four in 10 teens say that bullying, drug addiction, and alcohol consumption are major problems, but only 4% feel pressure to use drugs, and 6% feel pressure to drink alcohol. The pressure to get good grades is an issue for 61% of teens. Girls are more likely than boys to worry a lot about getting into their preferred college (37% versus 26%), and more girls (36%) than boys (23%) say they feel tense or nervous every day or almost every day.

Religion

The Nov. 20, 2018, report, “Where Americans Find Meaning in Life,” brings together surveys attempting to answer the difficult questions of what makes life meaningful and what brings humans satisfaction and fulfillment. The first survey asked people to answer an open-ended question on the topic, and the second asked people to rate how much meaning they drew from a set of 15 possible answers. The most popular answer across both surveys is that Americans across demographic groups value spending time with their families. In the first survey, one-third of people talked about their career or job, and one in five talked about their religious faith, friendships, or hobbies and activities. In the second survey, people pointed to being outdoors, spending time with friends, caring for pets, and listening to music as things that gave them “a great deal” of fulfilment and meaning.

Faith on the Hill,” from Jan. 3, 2019, explores the religious makeup of the 116th Congress. The members are slightly more religiously diverse than the 115th Congress: 88% identify as Christian (versus 91% of the 115th), and there are eight more members who don’t disclose their religious affiliation (or may not have one) and four more Jewish members. There is one more Muslim member and one more Unitarian Universalist member. The number of Hindu members remains the same (three), but there are five fewer Catholics, three fewer Mormons, and one fewer Buddhist.

A Jan. 31, 2019, report finds that across more than 2 dozen countries, adults who are active participants in their religious congregations are happier and more civically engaged than those who are religiously unaffiliated or inactive members of religious groups. “Religion’s Relationship to Happiness, Civic Engagement and Health Around the World” shows that religiously active people tend to smoke and drink less, but they’re not necessarily healthier in terms of exercise frequency or rates of obesity. However, there is little evidence to show that religious affiliation is itself an indicator of more civic involvement or greater personal happiness. In fact, it may be that people are more active religiously because they are already happier and healthier. The report concludes that this area needs further study.

Internet & Tech

Many Turn to YouTube for Children’s Content, News, How-To Lessons,” from Nov. 7, 2018, proves that for U.S. adults, YouTube is more than an entertainment platform. One in five YouTube users (13% of the total adult population) say the site helps them understand world events, while about half of YouTube users says it helps them learn how to do new things (about 35% of the total adult population). Children are benefiting too: 81% of parents with children age 11 or younger let them watch YouTube videos, with 34% saying they watch regularly. As for YouTube’s dark side, 64% of adults say they find videos that seem obviously false, 60% of adults sometimes see videos of people engaging in dangerous or troubling behavior, and 61% of parents who let their children watch videos say they have found inappropriate content for young viewers.

The Jan. 16, 2019, report, “Facebook Algorithms and Personal Data,” looks at Facebook users’ opinions on the data the social network collects. When asked about Facebook’s “Your ad preferences” page, which categorizes their interests, 74% of Facebook users said they didn’t know it existed. The page could be useful; 88% said it generated material for them, and 59% said the categories reflected their interests. But 51% said they weren’t comfortable with the idea that Facebook was keeping these lists. Facebook assigns a political “affinity” to about half of its users, and among those who have one, 73% said it was very or somewhat accurate. Facebook also tracks “multicultural affinity,” which doesn’t necessarily reflect a user’s actual racial or ethnic background. With 21% of users saying they have been assigned a multicultural affinity, 60% of them say it’s very or somewhat accurate.

Science

A Nov. 19, 2018, report discusses health risks stemming from additives in foods. “Public Perspectives on Food Risks” shows that 49% of Americans believe that foods with genetically modified ingredients are worse for people’s health than natural foods, and 44% believe that these foods are neither better nor worse; only 5% say they are better for people’s health. In asking about food additives in general, the report finds that 51% say the average person faces a serious health risk over their lifetime if they ingest them, while 48% say the average person gets the additives in such small amounts that there is no serious health risk.

How Highly Religious Americans View Evolution Depends on How They’re Asked About It,” from Feb. 6, 2019, discusses two approaches to asking about evolution. In the first survey, respondents answered whether they thought humans have evolved over time. If they said yes, a second question asked them about their views on the process, including the role of God. With this approach, 66% of white evangelical Protestants said that “humans have always existed in their present form”—that is, they have not evolved. In the second survey, these questions were posed together, asking all at once about whether people believe human evolution has occurred, the processes behind it, and the role of God. With this approach, 62% of white evangelical Protestants felt that humans have evolved. The approaches were replicated with black Protestants, and 59% said humans have not evolved when answering in the two-question format. When answering the single-question format, 71% of black Protestants said humans have evolved.

Hispanics

More Latinos Have Serious Concerns About Their Place in America Under Trump,” from Oct. 25, 2018, looks at the worries Latino people have—half say their situation has worsened since the 2016 presidential election, 49% worry about their place in American society, and 55% worry that they or someone in their life could be deported. Although they are the country’s largest minority group, 67% say this administration’s policies have been harmful to Hispanics (versus 15% during the Obama administration). However, 23% identify as Republican or leaning that way, and among that group, 59% approve of the president’s job performance. There are only 8% of Latino Democrats who agree.

The Nov. 27, 2018, report, “U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Total Dips to Lowest Level in a Decade,” is based on new estimates made from 2016 government data that show that the number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has declined, mostly because there are fewer Mexican people entering the country without authorization. In 2016, the U.S. had 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants, down from 12.2 million in 2007. Two-thirds of unauthorized immigrant adults have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade, and 43% live in households with U.S.-born children (versus 32% in 2007). More unauthorized immigrants are coming from Central America (mainly El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras)—about 1.85 million in 2016—but Mexican immigrants still make up about half (5.4 million) of this population.

Global

The Jan. 9, 2019, report, “International Publics Brace for Cyberattacks on Elections, Infrastructure, National Security,” shares results from a survey of more than 27,000 people in 26 countries showing that overall, 47% of people think their country is well-prepared to deal with a major cyberattack. However, 73% of people in Israel and 67% of people in Russia think their countries are ready. The U.S. has 53% saying the country is ready (61% of Republican-leaning people and 47% of Democrat-leaning people), and people in Brazil and Argentina have little faith in their countries, at 16% and 9%, respectively. A median of 74% of people across the 26 countries believe a cyberattack on sensitive national security information is very or somewhat likely, or has already happened.

Smartphone Ownership Is Growing Rapidly Around the World, but Not Always Equally,” from Feb. 5, 2019, comes from a survey of 30,000-plus people in 27 countries. It shows that a median of 76% of people across 18 advanced economies have smartphones, while 45% of people in emerging economies do. Ownership is about nine in 10 people in countries such as South Korea, Israel, and the Netherlands, and six in 10 in countries such as Poland, Russia, and Greece. India has the lowest rate of ownership, at 24%. More numbers include 60% of South Africans and four in 10 Indonesians, Kenyans, and Nigerians. Younger people in every country are much more likely to have smartphones, while ownership varies among older populations—only one-quarter of Russians who are 50 and older have one, but nine in 10 older South Koreans have one. In the U.S., nine in 10 people age 34 and younger have had a smartphone since 2015; for people 50 and older, the ownership rate has risen from 53% to 67% over the same time period.

The Feb. 10, 2019, report, “Climate Change Still Seen as the Top Global Threat, but Cyberattacks a Rising Concern,” notes that in 13 of the 26 countries surveyed, people said climate change was the top international threat. (More than 27,000 people were surveyed.) Eight countries—including Russia, France, Indonesia, and Nigeria—named terrorism, specifically from the Islamic State group, as the top threat. Four countries, Japan and the U.S. among them, said cyberattacks from other countries was at the top. Poland was the only country to say that Russia’s power and influence was the top threat; few others called Russia a major concern. Although people are afraid of North Korea’s nuclear program, none of the countries put it on their list of top threats, not even South Korea. There are 10 countries that see the power of the U.S. as a major threat, including 64% of people in Mexico.


Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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