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Pew Research Center Updates
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Posted On October 2, 2018
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. 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 roundup of Pew’s research, click here (October 2017) and here (March 2018). The following are some of the latest reports from each section.

U.S. Politics

The Aug. 9 report, “For Most Trump Voters, ‘Very Warm’ Feelings for Him Endured,” shows that in March 2018, 82% of people who had voted for the president in 2016 felt “warmly” toward him, and 62% said they had “very warm” feelings toward him. In addition, 93% of people who had voted for Hillary Clinton said they had “cold” feelings toward him, and 88% said their feelings were “very cold.” Of course, all voters from this study shall remain “anominus.”

Trump Has Met the Public’s Modest Expectations for His Presidency” was released on Aug. 23. The part of the study conducted before the 2016 election found that the public generally had low expectations for the commander in chief—that he would probably not “improve the way government works” (59%); “set a high moral standard for the presidency” (66%); or “achieve other goals,” such as “run an open and transparent administration” (60%). As of summer 2018, 61% say that so far, the president “has definitely (44%) or probably (18%) not improved the way government works; 71% say he has definitely (52%) or probably (19%) not set a high moral standard for the presidency.” And “61% now say he has definitely or probably not run an open and transparent administration.” (Unless you count tweeting unfiltered commentary, policies, and threats as an open and transparent practice.)

Media & News

The April 19 report, “Americans Favor Protecting Information Freedoms Over Government Steps to Restrict False News Online,” shows that “widespread concerns over misinformation online have created a tension in the United States between taking steps to restrict that information—including possible government regulation—and protecting the long-held belief in the freedom to access and publish information.” The report finds that 58% of people don’t want the government to limit that freedom, “even if it means false information can also be published,” but 56% say they support technology companies taking action against false information, “even if it limits the public’s freedom to access and publish information.” However, “42% prefer to protect those freedoms rather than have tech companies take action, even if it means the presence of some misinformation online.”

The Sept. 10 report, “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2018,” looks at how people get their news—and how much they care about its accuracy. Of the 68% of people who “at least occasionally get news on social media,” 57% “say they expect the news they see on social media to be largely inaccurate. Still, most social media news consumers say getting news this way has made little difference in their understanding of current events, and more say it has helped [rather] than confused them (36% compared with 15%).” Facebook is the most common source of news, at 43%, while 21% of people get news from YouTube and 12% get news from Twitter. The other social media sites studied include Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. “Fewer than half of each site’s users get news on each platform. Still both YouTube and LinkedIn saw these portions rise over the past year.”

Social Trends

The March 16 report, “How Millennials Today Compare With Their Grandparents 50 Years Ago,” updates research from March 2015 studying the experiences of the Silent Generation (those in their 70s and 80s) in their young adulthood (ages 21–36) alongside those of today’s 21- to 36-year-olds (Millennials). The past 50 years have been “a period during which Americans, especially Millennials, have become more detached from major institutions such as political parties, religion, the military and marriage. At the same time, the racial and ethnic make-up of the country has changed, college attainment has spiked and women have greatly increased their participation in the nation’s workforce.” The report notes the following:

  1. [Millennials] … are much better educated than the Silent Generation.
  2. A greater share of Millennial women have a bachelor’s degree than their male counterparts—a reversal from the Silent Generation. 
  3. Young women today are much more likely to be working, compared with Silent Generation women during their young adult years. 
  4. Millennials today are more than three times as likely to have never married as Silents were when they were young. 
  5. Millennials are much more likely to be racial or ethnic minorities than were members of the Silent Generation.
  6. Young Silent men were more than 10 times more likely to be veterans than Millennialmen are today.
  7. Greater shares of Millennials today live in metropolitan areas than Silents or Boomers did when they were young.

The Sept. 20 report, “Women and Leadership 2018,” notes that a record number of women are running for Congress in 2018, and “a majority of Americans say they would like to see more women in top leadership positions—not only in politics, but also in the corporate world. …” However, “the public is skeptical that the country will ever achieve gender parity in politics or in business.”

Women say that “structural barriers and uneven expectations” are holding them back from leadership roles. “About seven-in-ten women—vs. about half of men—say a major reason why women are underrepresented in top positions in politics and business is that they have to do more to prove themselves. And while about six-in-ten women say gender discrimination is a major obstacle to female leadership in each of these realms, smaller shares of men say this is the case in the corporate world (44%) or in politics (36%).” Of the 57% of people who say that men and women have different leadership styles, 62% say neither gender’s approach is better. However, 69% of people say that giving women more power “in business and government would improve the quality of life at least somewhat for all Americans … [although] women are far more likely than men to say having more women in top leadership positions would be beneficial.”

Religion

The June 13 report, “The Age Gap in Religion Around the World,” analyzes Pew research from 100-plus countries and territories over the last 10 years to compare differences within religious groups and within countries or regions. It finds that in the U.S., “younger adults are far less likely than older generations to identify with a religion, believe in God or engage in a variety of religious practices.” When this applies elsewhere, it is true for both relatively secular countries and more religious ones, as well as both developing and advanced industrial economies.

In 46 of the countries surveyed, people younger than 40 are less likely than older people to say that religion is “very important” to them. However, 58 countries don’t have a significant difference in religious observance between younger and older people. “In the places where there is a difference, however, it is almost always in the direction of younger adults being less religious than their elders. … But even if parts of the world are secularizing, it is not necessarily the case that the world’s population, overall, is becoming less religious. On the contrary, the most religious areas of the world are experiencing the fastest population growth because they have high fertility rates and relatively young populations.”

The Aug. 1 report, “Why Americans Go (and Don’t Go) to Religious Services,” shows that while the percentage of U.S. adults who regularly go to religious services has been declining, people who identify with a religious tradition tend to “cite practical or personal reasons, rather than lack of belief, for staying home.” Practical reasons, cited by 22% of people, include a lack of time or “being in poor health.” Personal reasons include wanting to “practice their faith in other ways” (the most common response, at 37%), not finding “a church or house of worship they like” (25%), or not liking the sermons (20%). People do attend services to feel “closer to God” (80%) or for other reasons, including to “give their children a moral foundation,” “to become better people,” and “for comfort in times of trouble or sorrow.” And 37% attend because of their family’s religious traditions, while 31% attend out of a feeling of obligation.

Internet & Tech

Public Attitudes Toward Technology Companies” was released on June 28. It notes, “In the midst of an ongoing debate over the power of digital technology companies and the way they do business, sizable shares of Americans believe these companies privilege the views of certain groups over others.” For example, 43% believe technology firms support liberal views over conservative ones, and 33% believe they support male views over female ones. And 72% think it is “likely that social media platforms actively censor political views that those companies find objectionable.” However, “74% of Americans say major technology companies and their products and services have had more of a positive than a negative impact on their own lives. And a slightly smaller majority of Americans (63%) think the impact of these companies on society as a whole has been more good than bad.” But technology companies should get better at handling people’s personal data—only 24% say they are doing enough to protect it.

The July 11 report, “Activism in the Social Media Age,” celebrates the fifth anniversary of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Pew notes that the hashtag “has become an archetypal example of modern protests and political engagement on social media,” and it has been used on Twitter almost 30 million times (an average of 17,002 times a day) as of May 1, 2018.

“[M]ajorities of Americans do believe [social media] sites are very or somewhat important for accomplishing a range of political goals, such as getting politicians to pay attention to issues (69% of Americans feel these platforms are important for this purpose) or creating sustained movements for social change (67%).” Still, social media can be seen as a distraction: 77% of people say it draws focus from “issues that are truly important,” and 71% “agree with the assertion that ‘social media makes people believe they’re making a difference when they really aren’t.’”

Science

The June 6 report, “Majority of Americans Believe It Is Essential That the U.S. Remain a Global Leader in Space,” shows that although private companies are venturing into space exploration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) still plays an important role: 72% of people want the U.S. to continue to lead, and 65% say NASA should spearhead the effort. Also, 80% say that the International Space Station has been a good investment. The pro-NASA opinion holds a majority across age, gender, education level, or political group (although 70% of Democrats and those who lean Democrat back NASA, and 59% of Republicans and those who lean Republican do).

People “say a top priority for NASA should be monitoring key parts of the Earth’s climate system (63%) or monitoring asteroids and other objects that could potentially collide with the Earth (62%). … Around one-third of U.S. adults say that searching for raw materials and natural resources that could be used on Earth (34%) or searching for life and planets that could support life (31%) should be top priorities; 22% and 27% of Americans say, respectively, that these missions are not too important or shouldn’t be pursued.”

Bringing it back to those private companies, 63% of Millennials are interested in space tourism.

The July 26 report, “Public Views of Gene Editing for Babies Depend on How It Would Be Used,” shows that “Americans’ views on the appropriateness of changing a baby’s genetic characteristics depend in large part on the intended purpose and on whether or not human embryos would be used in testing these techniques.” For example, “changing an unborn baby’s genetic characteristics to treat a serious disease or condition that the baby would have at birth” is acceptable to 72% of people and unacceptable to 27%. If gene editing is used “to reduce a baby’s risk of developing a serious disease or condition over their lifetime,” 60% find it appropriate and 38% find it inappropriate. Using gene editing to make a baby more intelligent is acceptable to 19% of people and unacceptable to 80%.

Hispanics

Latinos Are More Likely to Believe in the American Dream, But Most Say It Is Hard to Achieve” was released on Sept. 11. (Pew loosely defines the American Dream as the belief “that hard work will pay off and that each successive generation is better off than the one before it.”) As of 2016, 77% of Hispanics said that people can succeed through hard work, while 62% of the general U.S. public said the same. The expectation that their standard of living would be better than their parents’ is shared by 75% of Hispanics and 56% of the general public; 72% of Hispanics expect that their children will be better off than themselves, and 46% of the general public do.

Although majorities of Hispanic people believe in the American Dream, only 51% say they have achieved it, and 74% say “achieving the dream today is hard for people like them.” Goals included in the American Dream are “being a good parent” (rated highly by 51% of Hispanic people), “having the resources to provide for their family” (rated highly by 49%), “owning a home” (33%), “having a successful marriage” (30%), and “being successful in a high-paying career or profession” (22%). “Among those who say they have achieved the American dream, about equal shares of Hispanics attributed their achievement to home ownership or financial stability (26%), their work or career (25%) and hard work (24%). Another 22% cited coming to or living in the U.S. as the reason for their success.”

The Sept. 14 report, “Key Findings About U.S. Immigrants,” updates research from May 2017. It shows that more than 40 million people in the U.S. were born in another country—and almost every country is represented. That’s 13.5% of the U.S. population. In 1970, only 4.7% of the population came from other countries. The time with the highest percentage of immigrants was 1890, at 14.8%. “Most immigrants (76%) are in the country legally, while a quarter are unauthorized. In 2015, 44% were naturalized U.S. citizens.”

As of 2016, 11.6 million people from Mexico were living in the U.S., making up 26% of all immigrants. People from South and East Asia make up 27%. There aren’t chants of “Build the wall!” for Canadians, who (with Europeans) make up 13%. People from Central and South America make up 15%, 4% come from the Middle East, and 4% come from sub-Saharan Africa. “[M]ore Asian immigrants than Hispanic immigrants have arrived in the U.S. each year since 2010. Immigration from Latin America slowed following the Great Recession, particularly from Mexico, which has seen net decreases in U.S. immigration over the past few years.”

In FY2017, more than 980,000 immigrants applied for naturalization. And during the same time period, more than 53,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. “Since the creation of the federal Refugee Resettlement Program in 1980, about 3 million refugees have been resettled in the U.S.—more than any other country.”

Global

The Sept. 13 report, “In Advanced and Emerging Economies Alike, Worries About Job Automation,” looks at public opinion (from nearly 10,000 people from 10 countries) on new technologies—such as robotics and AI—that are changing the workplace. “In all 10 advanced and emerging economies polled, large majorities say that in the next 50 years robots and computers will probably or definitely do much of the work currently done by humans. In three countries—Greece, South Africa and Argentina—four-in-ten or more believe this will definitely happen. … Large majorities in each nation surveyed think ordinary people will have a hard time finding jobs as a result of automation. Relatively few predict new, better-paying jobs will be created by technological advances. … Americans are somewhat less likely than others to think that robots will replace human jobs in the next half-century.”

More than 80% of people in Greece, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Canada are worried that computers will replace humans in the workplace. More than 70% in Hungary, Poland, Italy, and Japan feel the same way. More than 80% of people in Greece, Argentina, Japan, and Brazil think automation will lead to greater inequality between those who are rich and those who are poor. And more than 70% of people in Canada, South Africa, the U.S., and Hungary agree. “Worsening inequality due to technological advances is a particular concern among the more highly educated in countries such as Japan, South Africa and Brazil.”

The Sept. 18 report, “A Decade After the Financial Crisis, Economic Confidence Rebounds in Many Countries,” notes that “pessimism about the future lingers, as does a sense that economic conditions were better pre-crisis.” A study of 30,000-plus people in 27 countries, it finds that “[i]n 2018, nearly eight-in-ten Germans (78%) say economic conditions in their country are good, up 50 percentage points from 2009. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) are similarly upbeat about their economy, with their assessment up 48 points. And the economic mood has improved 40 points in Poland, 35 points in the United Kingdom, 34 points in Japan and 24 points in Kenya since the depth of the Great Recession.”

In 18 countries (including 80% of people in France, 76% in Japan, and 72% in Spain), “half or more of the public believes that when children today in their country grow up they will be worse off financially than their parents.” In about half the countries, (including 87% in Greece, 75% in Tunisia, and 72% in Italy), “a plurality to majority of the public says the financial situation of average people today is worse, compared with the pre-crisis era 20 years ago.”


Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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