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The Latest From Pew Research Center
Posted On March 6, 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.

The following are some of the latest reports from each section.

Here are NewsBreaks’ other roundups of Pew Research Center’s research: October 2017 | October 2018 March 2019 October 2019 March 2020 | December 2020 | June 2021 | December 2021 | July 2022 | March 2023 | September 2023 January 2024

U.S. Politics

This section has been busy so far in 2018. Its Jan. 25 report, “Economic Issues Decline Among Public’s Policy Priorities,” shows that the environment, transportation, and addiction have grown in importance as areas the public thinks that government policy should focus on. Thanks to the improving economic outlook in the U.S., the percentage of U.S. adults who see fixing the economy as the country’s top priority fell from 83% in 2010 to 71% today. Protecting the environment is now important to 62% of U.S. adults, up from 44% in 2010. Improving the country’s transportation system and dealing with drug addiction have both jumped from 36% to 49%.

Another recent report is from Jan. 30. “Majorities Say Government Does Too Little for Older People, the Poor and the Middle Class” finds that 65% of U.S. adults “say the federal government does not provide enough help for older people,” 62% say it neglects poor people, and 61% say it neglects the middle class. “By contrast, nearly two-thirds (64%) say the government provides too much help for wealthy people.” There is a partisan gap—Democrats are more likely to say that the government is not doing a good job in supporting these groups.

A Feb. 14 report, “Majorities Express Favorable Opinions of Several Federal Agencies, Including the FBI,” says that “Republicans’ views of [the] FBI have grown more negative in [the] past year.” In general, two-thirds of the public still has favorable opinions of the FBI. The U.S. Postal Service is the most-liked agency, with 88% of U.S. adults having a favorable opinion of it. The Department of Education is seen favorably by 53% of adults, the CIA is seen favorably by 64%, and the Department of Justice is seen favorably by 59%.

Media & News

On Jan. 29, 2018, this section published “Sources Shared on Twitter: A Case Study on Immigration,” which analyzes 9.7 million tweets to show “that news organizations played the largest role in which content was linked to compared with other information providers” with regard to the topic of immigration. The study’s goal is “to better understand the types of information sources that users on one popular social media platform may see about a major national policy issue. …” It finds that “roughly four-in-ten of the 1,030 most linked-to sites in immigration-related tweets (42%) were outlets that purport to do original reporting—what the study refers to as the News Organizations category. And the prominent role these sites played becomes even greater when looking at the frequency with which they were shared: Fully 75% of the tweets during this time period linked to News Organizations.”

Social Trends

Some of the recent reports in this section focus on gender. A Oct. 18, 2017, report, “Wide Partisan Gaps in U.S. Over How Far the Country Has Come on Gender Equality,” shows that 69% of Democrats say “the country hasn’t gone far enough when it comes to giving women equal rights with men.” Meanwhile, 54% of Republicans “say things are about right, while only 26% say the country has more work to do.” Partisan divides also show up when discussing whether men have easier lives than women: 49% of Democrats say they do, and only 19% of Republicans say they do. (It’s a whole new spin on “Republican Motherhood”!) “Roughly six-in-ten Democrats (58%) say that changing gender roles have made it easier for women to lead satisfying lives; about a third of Republicans (36%) say the same. And while about half of Democrats (48%) say these changes have made it easier for men to lead satisfying lives, only 30% of Republicans share this view.”

A Dec. 5, 2017, report, “On Gender Differences, No Consensus on Nature vs. Nurture,” looks at the concepts of masculinity and femininity. The majority of U.S. adults think that “men and women are basically different in the way they express their feelings, their physical abilities, their personal interests and their approach to parenting. But there is no public consensus on the origins of these differences.” In general, women see the differences as stemming from societal expectations, while men think the differences are biological. (Guess it depends on whether you accept the gender binary.) The report also touches on pressures men and women feel—76% of U.S. adults say men are expected to support their family financially, and 77% say women are expected to be involved parents. In terms of appearance, 71% believe women face pressure to be physically attractive, and 27% say the same about men. “The survey also finds a sense among the public that society places a higher premium on masculinity than it does on femininity.”

They’re Waiting Longer, but U.S. Women Today More Likely to Have Children Than a Decade Ago,” from Jan. 18, 2018, shows that “[m]ore than half of never-married women in their early 40s have given birth.” In 2006, 80% of women ages 40–44 were mothers, and today, it’s up to 86%. Women have an average of 2.07 children in their lifetime, up from 1.86 children in 2006, which was the lowest number on record. And women are becoming mothers at a median age of 26, up from 23 in 1994. (As of 2014, the teen birth rate declined to 13% of women younger than 20.)


A Nov. 29, 2017, report, “Europe’s Growing Muslim Population,” states thatMuslims are projected to increase as a share of Europe’s population—even with no future migration.” It continues, “Pew Research Center has modeled three scenarios that vary depending on future levels of migration. These are not efforts to predict what will happen in the future, but rather a set of projections about what could happen under different circumstances.” Europe is defined as the 28 countries in the European Union as well as Norway and Switzerland. In mid-2016, it was estimated to be home to 25.8 million Muslims (4.9% of the overall population).

Scenario 1: “Even if all migration into Europe were to immediately and permanently stop … the Muslim population of Europe still would be expected to rise from the current level of 4.9% to 7.4% by the year 2050. This is because Muslims are younger (by 13 years, on average) and have higher fertility (one child more per woman, on average) than other Europeans, mirroring a global pattern.”

Scenario 2: “[A]ll refugee flows will stop as of mid-2016 but … recent levels of ‘regular’ migration to Europe will continue (i.e., migration of those who come for reasons other than seeking asylum …). Under these conditions, Muslims could reach 11.2% of Europe’s population in 2050.”

Scenario 3: “[T]he record flow of [predominantly Muslim] refugees into Europe between 2014 and 2016 [will] continue indefinitely into the future … in addition to the typical annual flow of regular migrants. In this scenario, Muslims could make up 14% of Europe’s population by 2050—nearly triple the current share, but still considerably smaller than the populations of both Christians and people with no religion in Europe.”

Internet & Tech

NewsBreaks previously coveredThe Future of Truth and Misinformation Online” on Oct. 24, 2017. (Another recent report was Oct. 4’s “Automation in Everyday Life,” summarized here.) On Jan. 4, 2018, “Crossing the Line: What Counts as Online Harassment?” explored what behaviors U.S. adults saw as harassment by presenting fictional scenarios of various online interactions. It found that “most agree that online harassment occurs when people make direct personal threats against others. At the same time, the public is much more divided over whether or not other behaviors—such as sending unkind messages or publicly sharing a private conversation—constitute online harassment.”

A March 1, 2018, report, “Social Media Use in 2018,” shows that a majority of U.S. adults “use Facebook and YouTube, but young adults are especially heavy users of Snapchat and Instagram.” Adults ages 18–24 are “embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently”—78% use Snapchat, 71% use Instagram, and 45% use Twitter. Facebook is the primary platform used by all U.S. adults, at 68%. “With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.” YouTube is used by 94% of adults ages 18–24 and nearly 75% of all adults.


The most recent report in this section, from Jan. 9, 2018 (also published in Social Trends), is “Women and Men in STEM Often at Odds Over Workplace Equity.” Discrimination and sexual harassment against women are seen as more frequent in STEM careers, and women face more barriers to career success. Workplace inequities are seen as most common when “women [are] employed in STEM settings where men outnumber women, women [are] working in computer jobs,” and women hold postgraduate degrees. “Indeed, a majority of each of these groups of STEM women have experienced gender discrimination at work, according to a nationally representative Pew Research Center survey with an oversample of people working in STEM jobs.”


This section most recently has dealt with attitudes toward Latino culture. On Oct. 31, 2017, “Use of Spanish Declines Among Latinos in Major U.S. Metros” looked at the decreasing share of the country’s Latinos who speak Spanish at home. In 2015, 73% of Latinos spoke Spanish at home (78% did in 2006). In a 2011 survey, most Latinos said it was important that younger Latinos speak Spanish, but in 2015, 71% said that people didn’t have to speak Spanish to be considered Latino. Immigrants in metro areas of the U.S. are more likely to speak Spanish at home (e.g., 90% of Miami’s Latinos), opposed to areas with mostly U.S.-born Latinos (e.g., 57% of Denver’s Latinos).

Another report, from Dec. 20, 2017, shows that “11% of American adults with Hispanic ancestry do not identify as Hispanic.” “Hispanic Identity Fades Across Generations as Immigrant Connections Fall Away” finds that although more than 18% of U.S. adults identify as Hispanic or Latino, there are two trends that distance people from previous generations: “a long-standing high intermarriage rate and a decade of declining Latin American immigration.” There are about 42.7 million U.S. adults who have Hispanic ancestry, with about 37.8 million of them self-identifying as Hispanic or Latino (89%). Immigrants are most likely to say they’re Hispanic, at 97%; 92% of U.S.-born adults with at least one immigrant parent say they’re Hispanic; and only 77% of U.S.-born children of U.S.-born parents (with at least one immigrant grandparent) say they’re Hispanic. About half of later generations, who have U.S.-born grandparents (and sometimes earlier relatives born in the U.S.), say they’re Hispanic.


A Dec. 5, 2017, report, “Worldwide, People Divided on Whether Life Today Is Better Than in the Past,” asks, “How far do people around the globe think they and others like them have come, compared with 50 years ago?” Respondents consisted of 43,000 people from 38 countries. In Vietnam, 88% of people said “life is better today”; in India, it was 69%; and in South Korea, it was 68%. These are “all societies that have seen dramatic economic transformations since the late 1960s. …” In Turkey, 65% said life is better; in Japan and Germany, 65%; and in the Netherlands and Sweden, 64%. People in the U.S. are more evenly divided (surprise, surprise): 41% say life is worse, and 37% say life is better. There are other countries with a pretty even split: 50% of people in Italy say life is worse; 53% in Greece and Kenya; and 54% in Nigeria. People in Venezuela and Mexico mostly say life is worse: 72% and 68%, respectively. “Events unique to the history of individual countries cannot be ignored when considering why publics are more positive or negative about how the present compares with 50 years ago. However, our analysis also indicates that views of the current economy are a strong indicator of whether people say life for people like them is better today than it was 50 years ago, even when controlling for the demographic factors of income, education, gender and age.”

Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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