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), here (October 2018), and here (March 2019). The following are some of the latest reports from each section.
The July 25, 2019, report, “Public’s Views of Nation’s Economy Remain Positive and Deeply Partisan,” shows that 55% of American adults view U.S. economic conditions as excellent or good. Views are divided along party lines: “In fact, the increase in positive economic views since early 2017 has come almost entirely among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.” There’s a big difference in those who view the economy as excellent, at 34% of Republicans and those who lean Republican and 6% of Democrats and those who lean Democratic.
“Republicans Now Are More Open to the Idea of Expanding Presidential Power,” from Aug. 7, 2019, notes that “66% of the public says ‘it would be too risky to give U.S. presidents more power to deal directly with many of the country’s problems.’” Republicans’ views have changed the most in the past year, while Democrats’ views haven’t changed much: “About half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (51%) now say it would be too risky to give presidents more power, down from 70% last year. … [For Democrats,] 82% say it would be too risky to give presidents more power. …”
The Aug. 16, 2019, report shares Democrats’ opinions of the 2020 presidential candidates. “Most Democrats Are Excited by ‘Several’ 2020 Candidates—Not Just Their Top Choice” shows that 63% of Democratic voters with a preference for one candidate also feel excited about others. “Democratic voters cite several factors as important in deciding whom to support for the nomination, including the personal characteristics of candidates,” and 27% say policy positions, in areas such as healthcare and the economy, are the most important factor in their decision to support someone.
Media & News
“For Local News, Americans Embrace Digital but Still Want Strong Community Connection,” from March 26, 2019, breaks down how Americans get their local news: 41% say they prefer TV, 37% prefer online, 13% prefer print newspaper, and 8% prefer radio. The majority (76%) of Americans who get news from local TV stations use a TV set, while 22% visit the stations’ websites or social media accounts. Local news isn’t always local: 47% say the local news they consume mostly covers another area, such as a nearby city, and 51% say the news “mostly covers their living area.”
The June 5, 2019, report, “Many Americans Say Made-Up News Is a Critical Problem That Needs to Be Fixed,” shows that “more Americans view made-up news as a very big problem for the country than identify terrorism, illegal immigration, racism and sexism that way. Additionally, nearly seven-in-ten U.S. adults (68%) say made-up news and information greatly impacts Americans’ confidence in government institutions, and roughly half (54%) say it is having a major impact on our confidence in each other.” Political leaders and activists are blamed more than journalists for this problem, but people think journalists have a responsibility to fix it.
The Aug. 14, 2019, report brings us back to local news by looking at the demographics of its consumers. “Older Americans, Black Adults and Americans With Less Education More Interested in Local News” notes that 31% of U.S. adults follow local news “very closely.” “Older Americans, black adults and those with a high school education or less show considerably more interest in local news than their counterparts, … [and the] same groups prefer getting their local news via the TV rather than online.”
The March 21, 2019, report, “Looking to the Future, Public Sees an America in Decline on Many Fronts,” shares predictions for 2050: “a weaker economy, a growing income divide, a degraded environment and a broken political system.” But 56% of U.S. adults say “they are at least somewhat optimistic about America’s future.” Specific issues of concern include the growing national debt, the widening gap between the rich and poor, and more automation in the workforce. “Majorities predict that the economy will be weaker, health care will be less affordable, the condition of the environment will be worse and older Americans will have a harder time making ends meet than they do now. Also predicted: a terrorist attack as bad as or worse than 9/11 sometime over the next 30 years.”
“Race in America 2019,” from April 9, 2019, states, “More than 150 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, most U.S. adults say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on the position of black people in American society today. More than four-in-ten say the country hasn’t made enough progress toward racial equality, and there is some skepticism, particularly among blacks, that black people will ever have equal rights with whites. …” Race relations in the U.S. are seen as “bad” by 58% of Americans; 56% say the current president has made them worse (13% give him some credit by saying he has “tried but failed” to improve them). Since he took office, two-thirds believe that “it’s become more common for people to express racist views. …”
The Sept. 10, 2019, report, “The American Veteran Experience and the Post-9/11 Generation,” shows that one in five veterans today were on active duty after 9/11. About half of the veterans surveyed say “they had emotionally traumatic or distressing experiences related to their military service,” and about one-third say “they sought professional help to deal with those experiences.” Veterans of post-9/11 duty “are somewhat less likely than their predecessors to say they frequently felt proud after leaving the military (58% vs. 70%).” But “[m]ajorities say their experiences in combat made them feel closer to those who served alongside them, showed them that they were stronger than they thought they were and changed their priorities about what was important in their life.”
“In Western European Countries With Church Taxes, Support for the Tradition Remains Strong,” from April 30, 2019, explores the “church tax” that several countries collect “on behalf of officially recognized religious organizations, in some cases levying the tax on all registered members.” The number of people who have been protesting the tax by formally deregistering from their churches has been growing. For example, “between 8% of adults (in Switzerland) and 20% (in Finland) say they have left their church tax system. And, in several countries, one-fifth or more of current payers describe themselves as either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ likely to opt out in the future.” But majorities still support church taxes in general.
The July 15, 2019, report, “A Closer Look at How Religious Restrictions Have Risen Around the World,” shows that “from 2007 to 2017, government restrictions on religion—laws, policies and actions by state officials that restrict religious beliefs and practices—increased markedly around the world.” In 2017, the governments of 52 countries (such as China, Indonesia, and Russia) imposed “high” or “very high” levels of restrictions on religion, up from 40 in 2007. Social hostilities, including violence and harassment, have been on the rise too, with 39 countries experiencing them at the highest levels in 2007, compared to 56 countries in 2017.
The report from July 23, 2019, looks at U.S. adults’ religious ignorance. “What Americans Know About Religion” finds that although most can name some basics facts about Christianity and the Bible, far fewer know about Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, as well as “what the U.S. Constitution says about religion as it relates to elected officials. In addition, large majorities of Americans are unsure (or incorrect) about the share of the U.S. public that is Muslim or Jewish. … Jews, atheists, agnostics and evangelical Protestants, as well as highly educated people and those who have religiously diverse social networks, show higher levels of religious knowledge, while young adults and racial and ethnic minorities tend to know somewhat less about religion than the average respondent does.”
Internet & Tech
The April 22, 2019, report is “10% of Americans Don’t Use the Internet. Who Are They?” It notes that the “10% figure is substantially lower than in 2000, when [Pew] first began to study the social impact of technology. That year, nearly half (48%) of American adults did not use the internet.” Internet use depends on demographic variables such as age, education level, household income, and community type. For example, 27% of people age 65 and older do not use the internet, and 29% of people with less than a high school education don’t. The reasons given for not going online come from a 2013 survey and include lack of interest (34%), difficulty of use (32%), and the cost of internet service or a computer (19%).
“Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019,” from June 13, 2019, looks at how people get online: 37% of U.S. adults use a smartphone (81% of Americans own one). “Fully 58% of 18-to 29-year-olds say they mostly go online through a smartphone, up from 41% in 2013. Still, this growth is evident across all age groups. For example, the share of adults ages 30 to 49 who say they mostly use a smartphone to go online has nearly doubled—from 24% in 2013 to 47% today.” And “45% say they do not have broadband at home because their smartphone lets them do everything they need to do online, up from 27% in 2015.”
For the Aug. 22, 2019, report, “In Emerging Economies, Smartphone and Social Media Users Have Broader Social Networks,” Pew studied adults in 11 countries to find that smartphone users, especially social media users, “are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds and more connected with friends they don’t see in person.” The example of Mexico shows that 57% of the country’s smartphone users “frequently or occasionally” interact with people of other religions (compared to “38% of those with less mobile connectivity”), and 54% “regularly” interact with people of other political parties (compared to “30% of those without smartphones”).
The March 28, 2019, report, “What Americans Know About Science,” draws on a survey of the public’s “common understanding of science facts and processes. …” For example, 79% of the respondents could “correctly identify that antibiotic resistance is a major concern about the overuse of antibiotics. A similar share (76%) know an incubation period is the time during which someone has an infection but is not showing symptoms.” Pew says the hardest question was, “What are the main components of antacids that help relieve an overly acidic stomach? About four-in-ten correctly answer bases (39%).”
The report for Aug. 2, 2019, “Trust and Mistrust in Americans’ Views of Scientific Experts,” finds that “public confidence in scientists [is] on par with confidence in the military. It also exceeds the levels of public confidence in other groups and institutions, including the media, business leaders and elected officials.” There is “at least ‘a fair amount’ of confidence” in scientists from 86% of Americans; 35% have “a great deal” of confidence in them (43% of Democrats, compared to 27% of Republicans).
The June 12, 2019, report is “Mexicans Decline to Less Than Half the U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Population for the First Time.” According to data from 2017, “The number of Mexican unauthorized immigrants declined because more left the U.S. than arrived. Mexicans remain a much larger percentage of all unauthorized immigrants than those from any other birth country. But their 47% share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants … amounted to less than a majority for the first time since the beginning of a long era of growth in illegal immigration. … The number of Mexican unauthorized immigrants has fallen by 2 million since its peak of 6.9 million in 2007 and was lower in 2017 than in any year since 2001.”
“Key Facts About U.S Hispanics and Their Diverse Heritage,” from Sept. 16, 2019, notes that there are nearly 60 million people in the U.S. who can “trace their heritage to Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America and to Spain.” As of 2017, 79% of Latinos living in the U.S. were U.S. citizens (up from 74% in 2010). “Spaniards (91%), Panamanians (89%) and Mexicans (79%) have some of the highest citizenship rates, while Hondurans (53%) and Venezuelans (51%) have the lowest rates.” And as of 2017, “70% of Latinos ages 5 and older spoke English proficiently, up from 65% in 2010.”
“Europeans Credit EU With Promoting Peace and Prosperity, but Say Brussels Is Out of Touch With Its Citizens,” from March 19, 2019, shares results of a survey of 10 European countries. In general, the European Union (EU) is seen to promote peace and democratic values and prosperity. “However, Europeans also tend to describe Brussels as inefficient and intrusive. … [A] median of 62% say it does not understand the needs of its citizens.” Majorities in Poland and Spain have “a favorable opinion” of the EU, while less than half of people in Greece and the U.K. do. And a “remarkable number of Europeans believe the financial situation for average people in their country has not improved over the past two decades.”
The April 22, 2019, report, “A Changing World: Global Views on Diversity, Gender Equality, Family Life and the Importance of Religion,” is the result of a study of 27 countries. “Medians of around seven-in-ten say their countries have become more diverse and that gender equality has increased over the past 20 years. And roughly six-in-ten across the countries surveyed say that family ties have weakened.” When it comes to religion, “a median of 37% say that religion plays a less important role in their countries than it did 20 years ago. … The results of [a full] analysis reveal people are strongly in favor of increased gender equality but share more tepid enthusiasm for increased ethnic, religious and racial diversity.”
The report from April 29, 2019, “Many Across the Globe Are Dissatisfied With How Democracy Is Working,” shows that “views about the performance of democratic systems are decidedly negative in many nations. Across 27 countries polled, a median of 51% are dissatisfied with how democracy is working in their country. … In Europe, for example, more than six-in-ten Swedes and Dutch are satisfied with the current state of democracy, while large majorities in Italy, Spain and Greece are dissatisfied.” Areas of dissatisfaction include frustration with corrupt politicians, unfair court systems, and elections that do not bring change. However, “people are more positive about how well their countries protect free expression, provide economic opportunity and ensure public safety.”