Informing The Public
The state of trust
The Pew Research Center in July released a report on the state of trust and distrust in America, finding that majorities believe trust in government and in other Americans is shrinking, and that the low trust Americans have in the federal government (64 percent) and in other people (70 percent) makes it harder to solve the nation’s key problems. It also found that most Americans think it is necessary to establish more trust: 68 percent say it is very important to repair the public’s level of confidence in the federal government, and 58 percent say the same about improving confidence in fellow Americans. In addition, some see fading trust as a sign of cultural sickness and national decline and tie it to what they perceive to be increased loneliness and excessive individualism. About half of Americans (49 percent) link the decline in interpersonal trust to a belief that people are not as reliable as they used to be. The study is part of the Center’s trust, facts, and democracy series.
Religious restrictions around the world
In July, the Pew Research Center released its 10th report examining restrictions on religion around the world, finding that government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion rose between 2007 and 2017. The latest data show that 52 governments—including those of populous countries such as China, Indonesia, and Russia—impose either “high” or “very high” levels of restrictions on religion, up from 40 in 2007. In addition, the number of countries where people are experiencing the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion has risen from 39 to 56 over the course of the study. Government restrictions on religion include laws, policies, and actions by state officials that restrict religious beliefs and practices. Social hostilities involving religion include violence and harassment by private individuals, organizations, or groups.
Higher education demographics
The Pew Research Center released a report in May about the changing demographics and economic circumstances of college students. The study determined that students from low-income families and minority groups have almost exclusively fueled the growth in the overall number of undergraduates. But these changes are not occurring uniformly across the postsecondary landscape. The rise of poor and minority undergraduates has been most pronounced in public two-year colleges, and the least selective four-year colleges and universities. The nation’s more selective four-year colleges and universities, where a majority of dependent undergraduates continue to be from middle- and higher-income families, have experienced less change.
American attitudes toward same-sex marriage
In May, the Pew Research Center released a report examining Americans’ views of same-sex marriage, finding that a majority of Americans (61 percent) favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while about half as many (31 percent) oppose same-sex marriage. Although attitudes about same-sex marriage have changed little from two years ago, support has increased substantially over the past two decades. In 2004, opinion was almost the reverse of what it is today: 60 percent opposed same-sex marriage, while just 31 percent were in favor. Today, three-quarters of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor same-sex marriage, up from 43 percent 15 years ago. By contrast, less than half of Republicans and Republican leaners (44 percent) support same-sex marriage; in 2004, just 19 percent of Republicans supported it. Support for same-sex marriage is highest among Millennials (74 percent), as has generally been the case for nearly a decade. A majority of Gen Xers (58 percent) support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, as do about half of Boomers (51 percent) and 45 percent of the Silent Generation.