Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. Visit us at pewresearch.org
As relationships, living arrangements and family life continue to evolve for American adults, a rising share are not living with a romantic partner. A new analysis of census data
finds that in 2019, roughly four-in-ten adults ages 25 to 54 (38%) were unpartnered – that is, neither married nor living with a partner. This share is up sharply from 29% in 1990.
As social media and technology companies face criticism for not doing enough to stem the flow of misleading information on their platforms, a sizable portion of Americans continue to turn to these sites for news. Today, 48% of Americans
say they get news from social media “often” or “sometimes,” a 5 percentage point decline compared with 2020.
Confidence in German Chancellor Angela Merkel among people around the world has remained relatively high throughout her nearly 16-year tenure. In her last year in office, as Germans prepare to vote for her replacement, a new survey
finds all-time high ratings of the German leader in most of the 16 advanced economies surveyed in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Public opinion of Germany is also positive; most hold a favorable view of the country and say that it has done a good job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. And among the European Union member states surveyed, many think Germany has about the right amount of influence in the EU.
Conducted this past spring, before the summer season ushered in new wildfires
and stronger-than-usual storms
, the study reveals a growing sense of personal threat from climate change among many of the publics polled. In Germany, for instance, the share that is “very concerned” about the personal ramifications of global warming has increased 19 percentage points since 2015 (from 18% to 37%).
Only Japan (-8 points) saw a significant decline in the share of citizens deeply concerned about climate change. In the United States, views did not change significantly since 2015.
More than a year and a half into the coronavirus outbreak, large shares of Americans continue to see the coronavirus as a major threat to public health and the U.S. economy
. And despite widespread vaccination efforts, 54% of U.S. adults say the worst of the outbreak is still to come.
The toll of restrictions on public activities in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus is deeply felt across groups: Overwhelming majorities say restrictions have done a lot or some to hurt businesses and economic activity and keep people from living their lives the way they want. Smaller majorities say these restrictions have helped at least some to prevent hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus and to slow the spread of the virus. Still, when asked to issue an overall judgment, Americans on balance view the public health benefits of these restrictions as having been worth the costs (62% to 37%).
A survey finds that the vast majority of adults (90%) say the internet has been essential or important
to them during the pandemic. Many made video calls to stay connected with loved ones and 40% used technology in new ways. But while technology was a lifeline for some, others faced struggles such as “Zoom fatigue” and worries about paying the bill for at home internet connection.
A narrow majority of Americans continue to say labor unions
have a positive effect on the way things are going in the United States. Most Americans also say the long-term decrease in the percentage of workers represented by unions is bad for working people in the U.S., and for the country as a whole, according to recent surveys.
As of July, 55% of U.S. adults say labor unions have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country, unchanged from August 2019, the last time the Center asked this question. While the overall figure has remained the same, Democrats have become more likely – and Republicans less likely – to say unions have a positive effect.
In just five years, the percentage of Republicans with at least some trust in national news organizations has been cut in half – dropping from 70% in 2016 to 35% this year. This decline is fueling the continued widening of the partisan gap in trust of the media
Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78%) say they have “a lot” or “some” trust in the information that comes from national news organizations – 43 percentage points higher than Republicans and Republican leaners (35%) – according to a June survey. This partisan gap is the largest of any time that this question has been asked since 2016.
A majority of U.S. adults say the decreasing share of Americans who identify their race as White is neither good nor bad for society, according to a recent survey.
About six-in-ten adults (61%) say the declining proportion of Americans who identify as White – a trend documented this month in new data from the Census Bureau
about Americans who identify as solely White and not Hispanic – is neither good nor bad for society. About two-in-ten (22%) say it is bad, including 9% who say it is very bad. Slightly fewer (15%) say it is good for society, including 7% who say it is very good, according to the survey of 10,221 adults, conducted July 8-18, 2021.
Amid rising concerns over misinformation online – including surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic
, especially vaccines – Americans are now a bit more open to the idea of the U.S. government taking steps to restrict false information online. And a majority of the public continues to favor technology companies taking such action, according to a new survey.
Roughly half of U.S. adults (48%) now say the government should take steps to restrict false information, even if it means losing some freedom to access and publish content, according to the survey of 11,178 adults conducted July 26-Aug. 8, 2021. That is up from 39% in 2018. At the same time, the share of adults who say freedom of information should be protected – even if it means some misinformation is published online – has decreased from 58% to 50%.
Republicans, in particular, are divided by age and educational attainment in opinions on this issue, according to a new survey conducted July 8-18, 2021.
Among all U.S. adults, 63% favor making tuition at public colleges free, including 34% who strongly favor the proposal. Slightly more than a third oppose tuition-free college (36%), with 20% strongly opposed. These views are little changed over the past year.
A little more than a year after nationwide protests erupted after George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police, the public is deeply divided over how far the nation has progressed in addressing racial inequality
– and how much further it needs to go.
Opinion on the current national reckoning over the history of slavery and racism in the United States casts these divisions into stark relief: Among U.S. adults overall, 53% say increased attention to that history is a good thing for society, while 26% say it is a bad thing and another 21% say it is neither good nor bad.
Gun owners in the United States have long favored more permissive gun policies while adults who do not own guns have tended to favor more restrictive policies. This pattern continues today. For example, 37% of gun owners favor banning assault-style weapons, compared with twice as many (74%) non-gun owners – and this gap has grown in recent years, according to a new analysis of surveys conducted in April and June 2021.
A growing share of U.S. adults say it’s a bad thing for the country that some people have personal fortunes of a billion dollars or more, though a majority continue to say it is neither good nor bad, according to a new survey.
Roughly three-in-ten Americans (29%) now say the fact that there are some people who have personal fortunes of a billion dollars or more is a bad thing for the country, up from about a quarter (23%) in January 2020.
The share who say having billionaires is a good thing for the country has decreased somewhat over the same period, from 19% to 15%.
As political battles continue around the nation over voting access and restrictions
, a new survey finds that a majority of Americans (57%) say voting is “a fundamental right for every adult U.S. citizen and should not be restricted in any way.”
Fewer (42%) express the view that “voting is a privilege that comes with responsibilities and can be limited if adult U.S. citizens don’t meet some requirements.”
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents overwhelmingly say voting is a fundamental right that should not be restricted in any way – 78% hold this view, while fewer than a quarter (21%) say it is a privilege. Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say voting is a privilege that can be limited if requirements are not met, compared with about half as many (32%) who say it is a fundamental right.
As the global economy shows signs of rebounding,
positive assessments of the economic situation have risen in several major advanced economies
since last year. Positive views of the economy have sharply increased in countries like Australia and the United Kingdom. Yet, many in Spain, Italy, Japan, France, Greece, South Korea and the United States continue to see their overall economic situation as bleak.
More than a year into the pandemic, Latinos in the United States
has harmed them and their loved ones in many ways. About half say a family member or close friend has been hospitalized or died from the coronavirus, and a similar share say they or someone in their household has lost a job or taken a pay cut during the pandemic. Yet amid these hardships, Latinos are upbeat about the future. Nearly two-thirds say the worst of the coronavirus outbreak is behind the country, and a majority say they expect their financial situation and that of their family to improve over the next year.
All of India’s most widely practiced religions have dietary laws and traditions. For example, Hindu texts often praise vegetarianism, and Hindus may also avoid eating beef because cows are traditionally viewed as sacred. Muslim teachings, meanwhile, prohibit pork.
The vast majority of Indian adults (81%) follow some restrictions on meat
in their diet, including refraining from eating certain meats, not eating meat on certain days, or both. However, most Indians do not abstain from meat altogether – only 39% of Indian adults describe themselves as “vegetarian,” according to a new survey
. (While there are many ways to define “vegetarian”
in India, the survey left the definition up to the respondent.)
Religious belief is key to many Americans’ political identities, but the public is divided on whether clergy should preach about politics from the pulpit. So, when pastors across the country addressed their flocks last fall, how did they discuss an election that many Americans viewed as historically important?
A new analysis finds that among churches that posted their sermons, homilies or worship services online between Aug. 31 and Nov. 8, 2020, two-thirds posted at least one message from the pulpit mentioning the election. But these rates varied considerably among the four major Christian groups included in the analysis: 41% of Catholic congregations in the database heard at least one sermon mentioning the election, compared with 63% of both mainline Protestant and historically Black Protestant congregations and 71% of evangelical Protestant congregations.
Most Americans place at least some trust in the media outlet
they turn to most frequently for political news. But their trust varies widely by political party and whether they see the outlet in question as part of the “mainstream media” or not – though in very different ways between Republicans and Democrats.
Overall, roughly eight-in-ten U.S. adults (83%) have at least some trust in the accuracy of the political news they get from their main news source, with 38% expressing a “great deal” of trust in it, according to a survey conducted March 8-14, 2021. Americans tend to have more trust in their main source for political news than they do in the news media more broadly: About two-in-ten adults (18%) express a great deal of trust in the accuracy of the political news they get from national news organizations (though a majority – 64% – have at least some trust).
As an unprecedented U.S. intelligence report
brings new attention to the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects, about two-thirds of Americans (65%) say their best guess is that intelligent life exists on other planets, according to a survey conducted just before the release of the government assessment.
A smaller but still sizable share of the public (51%) says that UFOs reported by people in the military are likely evidence of intelligent life outside Earth. Most of this sentiment comes from people who say that military-reported UFOs are “probably” evidence of extraterrestrial life (40%), rather than “definitely” such evidence (11%), according to the survey of 10,417 U.S. adults, conducted in June. On the other hand, 47% of Americans say the military reports are probably (36%) or definitely (11%) not evidence of life outside Earth.
About 600,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since the coronavirus outbreak
began. But behind that huge figure is a more nuanced one that brings the human toll of the virus into even sharper relief.
In addition to the overall number of deaths from a given cause, researchers can estimate the number of “life years” lost
due to it – a statistic that takes life expectancy into account. For example, if a person with a life expectancy of 80 dies at age 50, they are estimated to have lost 30 years of life. Examining this statistic underscores the extent to which the virus has cut Americans’ lives short.
In 2020 alone, the coronavirus was responsible for about 380,000 deaths and roughly 5.5 million years of lost life in the United States, according to an analysis of provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number of life years lost is more than the number lost in a typical calendar year to all accidents combined – including traffic accidents, drownings, firearm accidents, drug overdoses and other poisonings – and more than triple the number of life years lost in a normal calendar year due to liver disease or diabetes.
A majority of adults in the United States favor the death penalty
for people convicted of murder, according to a recent survey. However, views about the death penalty vary by religion
– with atheists and agnostics opposing this form of punishment at about the same rate as Americans overall support it.
Roughly two-thirds of atheists (65%) and six-in-ten agnostics (57%) either “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose the death penalty for people convicted of murder. Atheists and agnostics are small religious groups, representing less than 10% of the adult population
, but their share has grown in recent years.
Meanwhile, 60% of U.S. adults overall favor the death penalty, including 75% of White evangelical Protestants and 73% of White non-evangelical Protestants, according to the survey, which was conducted in early April. White Protestants account for about 29% of the U.S. population
, a share that has shrunk in recent years.
The election of Joe Biden as president has led to a dramatic shift in America’s international image
. Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, publics around the world held the United States in low regard, with most opposed to his foreign policies. This was especially true among key American allies and partners. Now, a new survey of 16 publics finds a significant uptick in ratings for the U.S., with strong support for Biden and several of his major policy initiatives.
In each of the 16 publics surveyed, more than six-in-ten say they have confidence in Biden to do the right thing in world affairs. Looking at 12 nations surveyed both this year and in 2020, a median of 75% express confidence in Biden, compared with 17% for Trump last year.
Most U.S. adults continue to support expanding solar panel farms (84%) and wind turbine farms (77%), but Republicans and Democrats are increasingly divided in views on these two energy sources, according to a recent survey
Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, support for increasing reliance on solar power is down from 84% last year to 73% today, while support for more wind power dropped from 75% in 2020 to 62% today. Around nine-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents continue to support expanding solar (93%) and wind power (91%).
The partisan gaps on expanding solar (20 percentage points) and wind power (29 points) are now larger than at any point since the Center started asking about these energy sources in 2016.
During the pandemic summer of 2020, teen summer employment
in the United States plunged to its lowest level since the Great Recession, erasing a decade’s worth of slow gains, according to an analysis of federal employment data.
Fewer than a third (30.8%) of U.S. teens had a paying job last summer, as many of the places most likely to employ them – restaurants, shops, recreation centers, tourist attractions – were either shuttered entirely or had their operations severely curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic
. In 2019, 35.8% of teens worked over the summer.
Smartphone ownership (85%) and home broadband
subscriptions (77%) have increased among American adults since 2019 – from 81% and 73% respectively. Though modest, both increases are statistically significant and come at a time when a majority of Americans say the internet has been important
to them personally.
Majorities of Americans see an array of actors, from government to business, as doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change and are broadly supportive of a range of policy approaches that would help address it. More than six-in-ten Americans say large businesses and corporations (69%) and the energy industry (62%) are doing too little to address climate change. Such critiques extend beyond industry: Two-thirds say ordinary Americans are doing too little to help reduce the effects of climate change.
More Americans now say that news organizations are gaining influence than say their influence is waning, a stark contrast to just one year ago when the reverse was true.
When Americans were asked to evaluate the media’s standing in the nation, about four-in-ten (41%) say news organizations are growing in their influence, somewhat higher than the one-third (33%) who say their influence is declining, according to a survey conducted March 8-14, 2021. The remaining one-quarter of U.S. adults say they are neither growing nor declining in influence.
By comparison, Americans in early 2020 were far more likely to say the news media were declining in influence
. Nearly half (48%) at that time said this, compared with far fewer (32%) who said news organizations were growing in influence.