Projecting the Muslim population in 2030 around the world

Pew has a new report on projecting the Muslim population around the world for 2030. You can look at separate reports by region and there is a lot of interesting information. If you look at the data for the United States, the prediction is that there will be 6.2 million Muslims by 2030. This is still a relatively small percentage compared to the total population though this would be a 140% increase. The numbers for Europe are quite different: the projection is France, Belgium, and Russia will be more than 10% Muslim.

Lots of good data here on everything from fertility rates to migration to age breakdowns.

Pew finds that landline-only surveys are biased toward Republicans

Polling techniques have become more complicated in recent years with the introduction of cell phones. In the past, researchers could reasonably assume most US residents could be accessed through a landline. However, Pew now suggests there may be a political bias in surveys that only access people though landlines:

Across three Pew Research polls conducted in fall 2010 — conducted among 5,216 likely voters, including 1,712 interviewed on cell phones — the GOP held a lead that was on average 5.1 percentage points larger in the landline sample than in the combined landline and cell phone sample…

The difference in estimates produced by landline and dual frame samples is a consequence not only of the inclusion of the cell phone-only voters who are missed by landline surveys, but also of those with both landline and cell phones — so called dual users — who are reached by cell phone. Dual users reached on their cell phone differ demographically and attitudinally from those reached on their landline phone. They are younger, more likely to be black or Hispanic, less likely to be college graduates, less conservative and more Democratic in their vote preference than dual users reached by landline…

Cell phones pose a particular challenge for getting accurate estimates of young people’s vote preferences and related political opinions and behavior. Young people are difficult to reach by landline phone, both because many have no landline and because of their lifestyles. In Pew Research Center surveys this year about twice as many interviews with people younger than age 30 are conducted by cell phone than by landline, despite the fact that Pew Research samples include twice as many landlines as cell phones.

This seems to make sense: those who have cell phones and don’t have landlines are likely to be different than those who are reached by landlines.

A few questions that I have: does this issue exist in all phone surveys today (and this article suggests there was a sizable differences between landline people and cell phone people in five of six surveys)? Have other polling firms had similar findings? If Pew now has some ideas about the extent of this issue, is the proper long-term response to call more cell phones or to weight the results more toward cell phone users?

One possible response would be to include multiple methods for more surveys. This might include samples of landline respondents, cell phone respondents, and web respondents. While this is more costly and time-consuming, research firms could then triangulate results.

39% of Americans now say marriage is obsolete

More data suggests that definitions of family continue to change in the United States. According to research from Pew, about 39% of Americans now say marriage is obsolete:

About 29 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, a fivefold increase from 1960, according to the Pew report being released Thursday. Broken down further, about 15 percent have parents who are divorced or separated and 14 percent who were never married. Within those two groups, a sizable chunk — 6 percent — have parents who are live-in couples who opted to raise kids together without getting married.

Indeed, about 39 percent of Americans said marriage was becoming obsolete. And that sentiment follows U.S. census data released in September that showed marriages hit an all-time low of 52 percent for adults 18 and over.

In 1978, just 28 percent believed marriage was becoming obsolete.

What exactly people mean when they say marriage is “obsolete” is a little unclear: do they mean it is a dying institution? Do they mean that they won’t pursue marriage? Do they mean it is not a desirable goal?

But the same story also tries to suggest that it is not all bad news for marriage:

Still, the study indicates that marriage isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Despite a growing view that marriage may not be necessary, 67 percent of Americans were upbeat about the future of marriage and family. That’s higher than their optimism for the nation’s educational system (50 percent), economy (46 percent) or its morals and ethics (41 percent).

And about half of all currently unmarried adults, 46 percent, say they want to get married. Among those unmarried who are living with a partner, the share rises to 64 percent.

The first set of comparisons of optimism about marriage and family versus other objects seems to be somewhat irrelevant. But there are still people who wish to be married – and I would be curious to know if there are traits or characteristics that mark this group.

What will be really interesting to see is how the current generation of kids, that 29% of kids under 18 who live with unwed or unmarried parents, responds to marriage when they are of age. There is nothing that says marriage rates have to decline over time just as there was never any guarantee that marriage would continue to be seen as a desirable life outcome for a majority of Americans.

As Christians, and Evangelicals in particular, have tended to promote “family values” and push the idea of marriage as a good for individuals, the church, and society, how will they respond to this data? Looking toward the future, will younger Evangelicals still desire marriage in the same way as previous generations or will the trends in broader society shape their behaviors?

Older Americans join social networking sites

Social network sites, like Facebook, started as domains for younger people. But Pew Research suggests more and more older Americans are joining this online realm:

Half (47%) of internet users ages 50-64 and one-in-four (26%) users ages 65 and older now use social networking sites.

Half of online adults ages 50-64 and one-in-four wired seniors now count themselves among the Facebooking and LinkedIn masses. That’s up from just 25% of online adults ages 50-64 and 13% of those ages 65 and older who reported social networking use one year ago in a survey conducted in April 2009.

While Twitter is not as popular among older Americans, this rush to Facebook and other sites is interesting. If more older Americans are on these sites, does it change the online culture? How many of these older Americans join such sites to interact with younger people, particularly children and grandchildren?

Pew Research: “Apocolypse Now”?

A number of news outlets are reporting on an April 2010 nationally representative survey from Pew Research of roughly 1,500 Americans that included questions about the future. Some of the findings are summarized in these two tables:

The titles of each table point out some of the differences. Education, a trait that is linked to social class, income, places where people live, occupations, and more, makes a difference in views of the future and even more so in looking for Jesus’ return.