lunes, 25 de junio de 2018

China's Belt and Road Initiative, Five Years In

Despite its success in the developing world, Beijing's approach to the Belt and Road Initiative has raised concerns over corrupt practices and financial sustainability in several recipient countries.
Beijing's ambitious outreach, and its hidden agenda for strategic expansion riding on the initiative, will continue to fuel skepticism, suspicions and resistance among core powers.
Ultimately, given the sheer scale of the Belt and Road Initiative, snags, delays and cancellations are to be expected.

Since it began in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative has become the centerpiece of China's domestic and foreign policy, jump-starting diplomatic, financial and commercial cooperation between China and more than 70 neighboring countries across the Eurasian landmass. When complete, the massive infrastructure project will increase China's overland and maritime connectivity to other regions, extending its trade and technology to new markets. The initiative also gives Beijing the opportunity to offload some of its excessive industrial capability, facilitating the necessary domestic industrial reforms it needs to establish a more stable economy.

In the past five years, China has spent at least $34 billion on the Belt and Road Initiative, focusing primarily on connectivity projects such as railways, ports, energy pipelines and grids. And though China has made major progress toward its long-term goals, it has also experienced several delays and setbacks. Given the sheer scale of the Belt and Road Initiative and how many large projects it encompasses, hold-ups, cancellations and failures are to be expected. But the causes of delays, in some cases a result of increased skepticism and resistance to China's strategic aims, will continue to shape the future development of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Big Picture

China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, formally announced in 2013, has revived the country's ancient concept of the Silk Road. Stratfor has closely tracked the development of this continent-spanning project, and in 2017 we published a four-part series discussing the underlying motivations behind this grand initiative — and the challenges it faces. Now that the Belt and Road Initiative has entered its fifth year, we're taking the time to examine the current state of the project and how its challenges will impact the way we analyze the initiative in the coming years.

Strategic Partnerships

Though one of Beijing's stated goals is to foster inclusive Eurasian integration with the Belt and Road Initiative, its scheme so far has focused on the developing world, particularly countries in Central and Eastern Europe, South and Southeast Asia and Central Asia. It has achieved only limited success drawing developed states, such as Japan, and core European powers into the Belt and Road project. After all, though they may share business interests with China, they also maintain a strong and growing skepticism about Beijing's means of increasing its competitiveness and its agenda for strategic expansion on the global stage.

According to a survey covering primarily emerging and transitional economies, Chinese financing — such as the Silk Road Funds and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank — provides a more significant boost to the majority of Belt and Road countries than their own domestic financing or even, in many cases, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international financing institutions.

China has many reasons for focusing on developing nations with strategic positions. And the developing countries themselves, which in many cases have weak economic foundations and governance, have been extremely welcoming to the Belt and Road Initiative. Many of these countries — 11 of which have been identified by the United Nations as the world's least developed, such as Laos, Tanzania and Djibouti — have major infrastructure deficits but are eager to avoid the kind of restrictive, strings-attached financing offered by Western institutions. Since China's approach to funding emphasizes non-interference and is generally unconditional and indiscriminate of regime, Beijing has achieved more access and goodwill than is usually given to its Western competitors. China's methods to draw these smaller countries into its Belt and Road framework also offer them a way to leverage their strategic positions and balance regional powers such as Russia, the European Union and India.
Domestic Complications

China's aspirations with the Belt and Road Initiative have increasingly been constrained by its own approaches and strategic objectives. Though the Belt and Road gained great success in the developing world, challenges over financing capabilities and political instability in the recipient states have repeatedly caused delays and even cancellations. This has been the case with several transportation and energy projects in countries such as Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan. Beijing also had the unlikely hope that it could link several war-torn states, such as Afghanistan and Yemen, but that will certainly not happen in the foreseeable future.

Moreover, China's partnership and perceived support for partner countries' ruling regimes have led to domestic political polarization, opposition and international criticism. In some cases, leaders of these states have used the Belt and Road Initiative in service of their domestic political agendas, leveraging Beijing's international clout to further their own international interests. And more significantly, corrupt governments have used Chinese funds for their own personal and political benefit.

Political corruption and instability have not only invited judgment but have also put Belt and Road projects at risk of delay. In Malaysia, for example, a game-changing May election turned several China-backed infrastructure projects into centerpieces of the political discourse. The new ruling power in Kuala Lumpur aims to investigate unscrutinized investments as a means to not only delve into the corruption of the former government but to reduce its debt burden. Although Beijing's policies are mostly to blame for such complications, China has also been frustrated by the liabilities caused by corrupt regimes. For instance, despite early investment, China has had to hold back some of its projects in politically risky countries such as Djibouti and Venezuela.

Finally, China's eagerness to draw in partner countries provides these governments with leverage as they attempt to win investment from China's rivals. Countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and some South Asian states, in particular, have been able to encourage Japan and India to compete with China over railways and hydropower projects at home, dampening Beijing's objective of becoming the most influential regional power.
Debt Concern, or Debt Strategy?

China's approach to debt financing in key strategic projects has also led to pushback, mainly over Beijing's level of influence. For example, the East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia and the deep-water Kyaukpyu port in southern Myanmar are currently under review by the recipient governments, which are already critical of Beijing's goal of securing supply routes other than the Strait of Malacca. Like Malaysia, Myanmar is concerned about the possibility of ending up in a "debt trap," where China holds disproportionate control over the nation's economy. After all, the $9 billion Kyaukpyu project is equivalent to 14 percent of Myanmar's gross domestic product. As a result, the country is fearful that China could ultimately exert its influence in order to gain ownership of the strategically important Kyaukpyu port.

Myanmar's concern is not unfounded. Both Sri Lanka and Pakistan — governments struggling with debt repayment and financing negotiations — have entered into "debt-for-assets" land-lease agreements with Chinese companies. In Sri Lanka, the Hambantota Port is now leased for 99 years, while areas around the Gwadar Port in Pakistan are leased for 43 years. In other states that already have high external debt or rely excessively on direct Chinese investment — such as Djibouti, Laos, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Montenegro — Beijing has used different forms of debt relief or forgiveness measures, in some cases resorting to acquiring the recipient country's natural resources or long-term oil contracts to offset the loans. And speculation is rising over whether China will leverage its financing of strategic deep-water ports in countries like Myanmar and Djibouti to gain an advantage in the Indian Ocean supply routes. Just recently, China established its first overseas naval base in Djibouti.

Confronting the Core Powers

There is a growing wariness of China's strategic intent and expanding influence with the Belt and Road Initiative. Beyond the concerns of developing states, China's strategic rivals and powers throughout the developed world maintain a strong, if not growing, resistance to the project. Though core regional powers such as India, Russia and some European countries share business interests with China, they also maintain a strong and growing skepticism about Beijing's means of increasing its competitiveness. And beyond that, China's hidden agenda for strategic expansion on the global stage.

Despite India's tactical recalibration to ease its tense relationship with China, New Delhi remains vehemently opposed to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. This is seen by India as part of Beijing's strategy to encroach on the subcontinent and could potentially undermine New Delhi's claims to the contested Kashmir region. Indeed, India's opposition has factored significantly in some South Asian states' strenuous geopolitical balance. For instance, last year Nepal scrapped a $2.5 billion Budhi Gandaki hydropower project, because of Indian concerns.

In Europe, core EU members such as Germany and France have found Beijing's outreach in Central and Eastern Europe to be more competitive than cooperative, viewing the project as an attempt to dilute the bloc's rule and agenda. This led to ongoing criticism and increased scrutiny over Chinese investment and projects in Eastern and Central Europe. In particular, the proposed railway between Budapest and Belgrade — a key piece of Beijing's strategy to link to the Mediterranean port of Piraeus — is under review.

Where China's outreach has received some success in the developed world is in Russia and, to some extent, Japan. Initially suspicious of the Belt and Road Initiative, Russia has grown more amiable as it recognizes how Chinese investment can benefit its own economy and foster development in Central Asian countries over which it exerts significant control. Moscow has begun supporting and even participating in some Belt and Road projects. Most recently, it entered into a co-financing agreement with China for close to 70 projects under its own Eurasian Economic Union, a move that will greatly ease the barriers to Beijing's investment in some Eastern European and Central Asian countries as well as the Arctic.

Japan, for its part, continues to refrain from openly endorsing the Belt and Road Initiative. But in more tacit ways, the Japanese government is working to encourage its companies to participate in some of China's projects. This is especially true in areas such as Central Asia and Africa, where Tokyo hopes to boost Japanese corporations' waning overseas presence.
Looking Forward

Despite these successes, Beijing's ambitious outreach will continue to fuel skepticism, suspicion and resistance among the core powers and complicate its agenda, especially as it works to hedge against increased pressure from the United States. And China has even inadvertently encouraged loose regional blocs to counter it. Japan and India, for instance, have begun working on an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative on the African continent, participating in a U.S.-led proposal to establish a quadrilateral framework for infrastructure investment. Elsewhere, Australia is pledging an extensive campaign of aid, trade and diplomacy in the South Pacific, hoping to regain the position it has lost to China in its traditional backyard.

The reality is that none of these countries' proposals can outdo China's enormous and well-funded infrastructure plan. They lack China's capital, human resources and moral flexibility. For participating countries, the long-term benefits of Chinese investment and infrastructure construction in many ways outweigh the risks. So, while investors should be aware that China will continue to experience setbacks in its Belt and Road projects, the initiative as a whole is still moving along relatively successfully, as are Beijing's expansionary aspirations.

sábado, 23 de junio de 2018

Gen Xers and younger generation are the clear majority this November

Rubén Weinsteiner

Voters in Provo, Utah, cast their ballots in the 2016 presidential election.

Generation X, Millennials and the post-Millennial generation make up a clear majority of voting-eligible adults in the United States, but if past midterm election turnout patterns hold true, they are unlikely to cast the majority of votes this November. Not only are younger adults less likely to participate in midterm elections, but Millennials and Gen Xers have a track record of low turnout in midterms compared with older generations when they were the same age.

As of April 2018 (the most recent data available), 59% of adults who are eligible to vote are Gen Xers, Millennials or “post-Millennials.” In the 2014 midterm election, which had a historically low turnout, these younger generations accounted for 53% of eligible voters but cast just 36 million votes – 21 million fewer than the Boomer, Silent and Greatest generations, who are ages 54 and older in 2018.

Since 2014, the number of voting-eligible Gen Xers, Millennials and post-Millennials has increased by 18 million. Some of this increase stems from Gen Xers and Millennials who have naturalized and become U.S. citizens. But the bulk of it is due to the addition of 15 million adult post-Millennials (18 to 21 years old) who are now voting age.

Meanwhile, the electoral potential of Baby Boomers and older generations has declined since the last midterm. Driven mainly by deaths, there are now 10 million fewer eligible voters among the Boomer and older generations than there were in 2014.

The generational makeup of the electorate matters because, as Pew Research Center surveys have shown, generational differences in political preferences are now as wide as they have been in decades. For example, among registered voters, 59% of Millennials affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic. About half of Boomers (48%) and 43% of the Silent Generation identify as or lean Democratic.

Whether Gen X and younger generations will be the majority of voters in the November midterms will depend on how many of those who are eligible actually turn out to vote. In the 2016 presidential election, Gen X and younger generations were a majority of voters. But turnout in midterm elections tends to be significantly lower than in presidential elections, particularly among younger adults.

In the 2014 midterm election, only 39% of Gen Xers who were eligible turned out to vote, as did a significantly smaller share of eligible Millennials (22%). It’s important to note, however, that the 2014 election is not representative of all midterms, as only 42% of all eligible voters reported voting – the lowest turnout in a midterm election since consistent data have been available.

It’s difficult to predict who will turn out to vote in the upcoming 2018 midterm. A reasonable scenario might be that eligible voters would turn out as they have, on average, in past midterm elections. Gen Xers and Millennials have consistently underperformed in terms of voter turnout in midterm elections, compared with Boomers when they were the same age. Millennials have had the opportunity to vote in four midterm elections (2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014). Among Millennials who were between the ages of 18 and 24 during these elections, 20% turned out to vote, on average. By comparison, 26% of Boomers in that same age range turned out to vote in midterm elections between 1978 and 1986.

Turnout in midterm elections has been somewhat higher for older Millennials than for younger ones. Still, the gap between older Millennials and similarly aged Boomers is considerable. Among Millennials who were ages 25 to 29 at the time, 26% turned out on average for midterm elections between 2006 and 2014. That compares with 36% of eligible Boomers in that age range, on average, who voted in midterms between 1978 and 1992.

These generational comparisons over time are rough at best, however, as each midterm election has its own unique set of issues and national conditions which undoubtedly influence overall turnout.

What do these patterns tell us about potential turnout in the 2018 midterm elections?

If past turnout patterns hold – and taking into account that each generation has aged four years since 2014 – the data suggest that Gen Xers, Millennials and post-Millennials would not be a majority of voters in 2018. More specifically, extending the historical trends forward, one would expect roughly 47 million of the votes cast in 2018 would come from these three younger generations (up from 36 million in 2014), compared with 55 million votes cast by Boomer and older voters.

The analytical catch: There are, of course, no guarantees the past will repeat itself. If the younger generations were to turn out to vote at the rates Boomers did when they were younger, post-Millennials, Millennials and Gen Xers would account for the majority of votes.

Turnout depends on myriad factors, including voter engagement, and therefore these calculations are not projections of the generational turnout this November. Rather, this analysis demonstrates, based on past midterm voting behavior, how the changing generational composition of the electorate could impact voting dynamics going forward.

Methodology note: The estimated 2018 vote counts are derived by applying each generation’s average turnout rate to the electorate as of April 2018 and factoring in the assumption that the oldest of each generation will turn out as the youngest members of the next generation (for example, if Millennials ages 34 to 37 turn out to vote in the same proportion as Gen Xers ages 34 to 37 turned out to vote).
Rubén Weinsteiner

jueves, 21 de junio de 2018

Distinguishing Between Factual and Opinion Statements in the News

The politically aware, digitally savvy and those more trusting of the news media fare better; Republicans and Democrats both influenced by political appeal of statements
By Amy Mitchell, Jeffrey Gottfried, Michael Barthel and Nami Sumida

In today’s fast-paced and complex information environment, news consumers must make rapid-fire judgments about how to internalize news-related statements – statements that often come in snippets and through pathways that provide little context. A new Pew Research Center survey of 5,035 U.S. adults examines a basic step in that process: whether members of the public can recognize news as factual – something that’s capable of being proved or disproved by objective evidence – or as an opinion that reflects the beliefs and values of whoever expressed it.

The findings from the survey, conducted between Feb. 22 and March 8, 2018, reveal that even this basic task presents a challenge. The main portion of the study, which measured the public’s ability to distinguish between five factual statements and five opinion statements, found that a majority of Americans correctly identified at least three of the five statements in each set. But this result is only a little better than random guesses. Far fewer Americans got all five correct, and roughly a quarter got most or all wrong. Even more revealing is that certain Americans do far better at parsing through this content than others. Those with high political awareness, those who are very digitally savvy and those who place high levels of trust in the news media are better able than others to accurately identify news-related statements as factual or opinion.

For example, 36% of Americans with high levels of political awareness (those who are knowledgeable about politics and regularly get political news) correctly identified all five factual news statements, compared with about half as many (17%) of those with low political awareness. Similarly, 44% of the very digitally savvy (those who are highly confident in using digital devices and regularly use the internet) identified all five opinion statements correctly versus 21% of those who are not as technologically savvy. And though political awareness and digital savviness are related to education in predictable ways, these relationships persist even when accounting for an individual’s education level.

Trust in those who do the reporting also matters in how that statement is interpreted. Almost four-in-ten Americans who have a lot of trust in the information from national news organizations (39%) correctly identified all five factual statements, compared with 18% of those who have not much or no trust. However, one other trait related to news habits – the public’s level of interest in news – does not show much difference.

In addition to political awareness, party identification plays a role in how Americans differentiate between factual and opinion news statements. Both Republicans and Democrats show a propensity to be influenced by which side of the aisle a statement appeals to most. For example, members of each political party were more likely to label both factual and opinion statements as factual when they appealed more to their political side.

At this point, then, the U.S. is not completely detached from what is factual and what is not. But with the vast majority of Americans getting at least some news online, gaps across population groups in the ability to sort news correctly raise caution. Amid the massive array of content that flows through the digital space hourly, the brief dips into and out of news and the country’s heightened political divisiveness, the ability and motivation to quickly sort news correctly is all the more critical.

The differentiation between factual and opinion statements used in this study – the capacity to be proved or disproved by objective evidence – is commonly used by others as well, but may vary somewhat from how “facts” are sometimes discussed in debates – as statements that are true.1 While Americans’ sense of what is true and false is important, this study was not intended as a knowledge quiz of news content. Instead, this study was intended to explore whether the public sees distinctions between news that is based upon objective evidence and news that is not.

To accomplish this, respondents were shown a series of news-related statements in the main portion of the study: five factual statements, five opinions and two statements that don’t fit clearly into either the factual or opinion buckets – termed here as “borderline” statements. Respondents were asked to determine if each was a factual statement (whether accurate or not) or an opinion statement (whether agreed with or not). For more information on how statements were selected for the study, see below.

How the study asked Americans to classify factual versus opinion-based news statements

In the survey, respondents read a series of news statements and were asked to put each statement in one of two categories:
A factual statement, regardless of whether it was accurate or inaccurate. In other words, they were to choose this classification if they thought that the statement could be proved or disproved based on objective evidence.
An opinion statement, regardless of whether they agreed with the statement or not. In other words, they were to choose this classification if they thought that it was based on the values and beliefs of the journalist or the source making the statement, and could not definitively be proved or disproved based on objective evidence.

In the initial set, five statements were factual, five were opinion and two were in an ambiguous space between factual and opinion – referred to here as “borderline” statements. (All of the factual statements were accurate.) The statements were written and classified in consultation with experts both inside and outside Pew Research Center. The goal was to include an equal number of statements that would more likely appeal to the political right or to the political left, with an overall balance across statements. All of the statements related to policy issues and current events. The individual statements are listed in an expandable box at the end of this section, and the complete methodology, including further information on statement selection, classification, and political appeal, can be found here.
Republicans and Democrats are more likely to think news statements are factual when they appeal to their side – even if they are opinions

It’s important to explore what role political identification plays in how Americans decipher factual news statements from opinion news statements. To analyze this, the study aimed to include an equal number of statements that played to the sensitivities of each side, maintaining an overall ideological balance across statements.2

Overall, Republicans and Democrats were more likely to classify both factual and opinion statements as factual when they appealed most to their side. Consider, for example, the factual statement “President Barack Obama was born in the United States” – one that may be perceived as more congenial to the political left and less so to the political right. Nearly nine-in-ten Democrats (89%) correctly identified it as a factual statement, compared with 63% of Republicans. On the other hand, almost four-in-ten Democrats (37%) incorrectly classified the left-appealing opinion statement “Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is essential for the health of the U.S. economy” as factual, compared with about half as many Republicans (17%).3
News brand labels in this study had a modest impact on separating factual statements from opinion

In a separate part of the study, respondents were shown eight different statements. But this time, most saw statements attributed to one of three specific news outlets: one with a left-leaning audience (The New York Times), one with a right-leaning audience (Fox News Channel) and one with a more mixed audience (USA Today).4

Overall, attributing the statements to news outlets had a limited impact on statement classification, except for one case: Republicans were modestly more likely than Democrats to accurately classify the three factual statements in this second set when they were attributed to Fox News – and correspondingly, Democrats were modestly less likely than Republicans to do so. Republicans correctly classified them 77% of the time when attributed to Fox News, 8 percentage points higher than Democrats, who did so 69% of the time.5 Members of the two parties were as likely as each other to correctly classify the factual statements when no source was attributed or when USA Today or The New York Times was attributed. Labeling statements with a news outlet had no impact on how Republicans or Democrats classified the opinion statements. And, overall, the same general findings about differences based on political awareness, digital savviness and trust also held true for this second set of statements.
When Americans call a statement factual they overwhelmingly also think it is accurate; they tend to disagree with factual statements they incorrectly label as opinions

The study probed one step further for the initial set of 12 statements. If respondents identified a statement as factual, they were then asked if they thought it was accurate or inaccurate. If they identified a statement to be an opinion, they were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with it.

When Americans see a news statement as factual, they overwhelmingly also believe it to be accurate. This is true for both statements they correctly and incorrectly identified as factual, though small portions of the public did call statements both factual and inaccurate.

When Americans incorrectly classified factual statements as opinions, they most often disagreed with the statement. When correctly classifying opinions as such, however, Americans expressed more of a mix of agreeing and disagreeing with the statement.
About the study
Statement selection

This is Pew Research Center’s first step in understanding how people parse through information as factual or opinion. Creating the mix of statements was a multistep and rigorous process that incorporated a wide variety of viewpoints. First, researchers sifted through a number of different sources to create an initial pool of statements. The factual statements were drawn from sources including news organizations, government agencies, research organizations and fact-checking entities, and were verified by the research team as accurate. The opinion statements were adapted largely from public opinion survey questions. A final list of statements was created in consultation with Pew Research Center subject matter experts and an external board of advisers.

The goals were to:
Pull together statements that range across a variety of policy areas and current events
Strive for statements that were clearly factual and clearly opinion in nature (as well as some that combined both factual and opinion elements, referred to here as “borderline”)
Include an equal number of statements that appealed to the right and left, maintaining an overall ideological balance

In the primary set of statements, respondents saw five factual, five opinion and two borderline statements. Factual statements that lend support to views held by more people on one side of the ideological spectrum (and fewer of those on the other side) were classified as appealing to the narrative of that side. Opinion statements were classified as appealing to one side if in recent surveys they were supported more by one political party than the other. Two of the statements (one factual and one opinion) were “neutral” and intended to appeal equally to the left and right.
How Pew Research Center asked respondents to categorize news statements as factual or opinion

As noted previously, respondents were first asked to classify each news statement as a factual statement or an opinion statement. Extensive testing of the question wording was conducted to ensure that respondents would not treat this task as asking if they agree with the statement or as a knowledge quiz. This is why, for instance, the question does not merely ask whether the statement is a factual or an opinion statement and instead includes explanatory language as follows: “Regardless of how knowledgeable you are about the topic, would you consider this statement to be a factual statement (whether you think it is accurate or not) OR an opinion statement (whether you agree with it or not)?” For more details on the testing of different question wordings, see Appendix A.

After classifying each statement as factual or opinion, respondents were then asked one of two follow-up questions. If they classified a statement as factual, they were then asked if they thought the statement was accurate or inaccurate. If they classified it as an opinion, they were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement.

For example, fact-checking organizations have used this differentiation of a statement’s capacity to be proved or disproved as a way to determine whether a claim can be fact-checked and schools have used this approach to teach students to differentiate facts from opinions.
A statement was considered to appeal to the left or the right based on whether it lent support to political views held by more on one side of the ideological spectrum than the other. Various sources were used to determine the appeal of each statement, including news stories, statements by elected officials, and recent polling.
The findings in this study do not necessarily imply that one party is better able to correctly classify news statements as factual or opinion-based. Even though there were some differences between the parties (for instance, 78% of Democrats compared with 68% of Republicans who correctly classified at least three of five factual statements), the more meaningful finding is the tendency among both to be influenced by the possible political appeal of statements.
The classification of these three outlets’ audiences is based on previously reported survey data, the same data that was used to classify audiences for a recent study about coverage of the Trump administration. For more detail on the classification of the three news outlets, as well as the selection and analysis of this second set of statements, see the Methodology. At the end of the survey, respondents who saw news statements attributed to the news outlets were told, “Please note that the statements that you were shown in this survey were part of an experiment and did not actually appear in news articles of the news organizations.”
This analysis grouped together all of the times the 5,035 respondents saw a statement attributed to each of the outlets or no outlet at all. The results, then, are given as the “percent of the time” that respondents classified statements a given way when attributed to each outlet. For more details on what “percent of the time” means, see the Methodology.

miércoles, 20 de junio de 2018

Poll: If You’re Over 50 in Florida, Chances Are You Like Trump


In 2016, a majority of voters were 50 and older. This decisive voting bloc will be key to determining the balance of power in Washington this November.

In 2018, Florida hosts a contentious Senate election as well as many key House races. We polled voters aged 50 and older in Florida about their lives, President Trump and Congress to get a sense of how they might vote.

Here’s what we learned.
50+ voters approve of Trump

Approve 52%

No Opinion 4%

Disapprove 44%

Younger generations disapprove of Trump
Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as President?
Strongly approve
Somewhat approve
Don't Know / No Opinion
Somewhat disapprove
Strongly disapprove
All Registered Voters
Gen Z: Age 18-21

Millennials: Age 22-37

Gen X: Age 38-53

Boomers: Age 54-72

50+ voters prefer Republicans in the midterms

Democrat 36%

No Opinion 23%

Republican 41%

Younger generations prefer Democrats
If the election for U.S. Congress in your district was held today, which one of the following candidates are you most likely to vote for?
Democratic candidate
Don't Know / No Opinion
Republican candidate
All Registered Voters
Gen Z: Age 18-21

Millennials: Age 22-37

Gen X: Age 38-53

Boomers: Age 54-72

50+ women less approving of health care policy than men
Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Trump is handling health care?
Strongly approve
Somewhat approve
Don't Know / No Opinion
Somewhat disapprove
Strongly disapprove
Registered Voters 50+
Democratic Men

Democratic Women

Independent Men

Independent Women

Republican Men

Republican Women

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling health care?
Registered Voters 50+
Democratic Men

Democratic Women

Independent Men

Independent Women

Republican Men

Republican Women

Voters split over why health care costs are rising
Which of the following do you think is most responsible for rising health care costs in the United States?
Health care insurance companies focusing on profits more than peoples health
Waste, fraud and abuse
Drug companies charging too much for medications
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare
Doctors and other providers taking advantage of the system
Hospitals taking advantage of the system
An aging U.S. population
Don't Know / No Opinion
Unnecessary treatments and over-testing
Rural voters less confident in availability of public services
Availability of Medicare
Very confident
Somewhat confident
Don't Know / No Opinion
Not too confident
Not confident at all
Registered Voters 50+
Urban Voters

Suburban Voters

Rural Voters

Availability of Social Security
Registered Voters 50+
Urban Voters

Suburban Voters

Rural Voters

Availability of Medicaid
Registered Voters 50+
Urban Voters

Suburban Voters

Rural Voters

Availability of housing assistance
Registered Voters 50+
Urban Voters

Suburban Voters

Rural Voters

Lower-income voters think personal financial situation is worse
Over the last two years, has your personal financial situation...
Gotten better
Stayed about the same
Gotten worse
Don't Know / No Opinion
Registered Voters 50+
Under $50k


Over $100k

Lower-income voters less confident they will be able to afford retirement
How confident are you that you will have enough money for retirement?
Very confident
Somewhat confident
Don't Know / No Opinion
Not too confident
Not at all confident
Registered Voters 50+
Under $50k


Over $100k

Methodology: The poll was conducted May 29-30, 2018, surveying 1,199 registered voters in Florida, including an oversample of 653 voters aged 50 and older. Interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters in Florida based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, and educational attainment. Overall results from the survey have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, and plus or minus four percentage points for the oversample of older voters.

Koch network raps Trump, won't support House immigration bills

The House immigration bills "expected to receive a vote fall short of the solution we need,” said Daniel Garza, president of the Koch network's LIBRE Initiative.


The political network founded by the Koch brothers is taking a stand against both President Donald Trump’s policy toward separating families at the border and two immigration bills due for votes in the House this week, dealing a blow to GOP leaders who are marshaling support for their version.

“It’s encouraging that the House will have a debate this week on immigration bills that include protections for the Dreamers," said Daniel Garza, president of the Koch network's LIBRE Initiative, referring to a group of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. "Unfortunately, in their current form, both [House leadership’s bill and an alternative immigration bill] expected to receive a vote fall short of the solution we need.”

Garza also called on Trump to “take immediate action to end the separation of families at the border by rescinding the ‘zero tolerance’ policy.”

The Kochs’ push for a more moderate approach toward immigration legislation complicates the thorny debate in Washington. Lawmakers have called on Trump to stop his administration from splitting up immigrant families, which has drawn public outrage since he implemented a zero tolerance policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border illegally. Trump has refused to act alone, saying Congress needs to pass immigration legislation.

The Koch brothers have pushed the Republican Party to create a path to citizenship for Dreamers, who were extended protections under the Obama administration that Trump has tried to withdraw. The Kochs also have urged the GOP not to make severe cuts to the flow of immigrants into the country, even launching a seven-figure ad buy supporting their efforts.

House Republicans were coalescing around an immigration bill supported by House leadership that would, among other things, give some protections to Dreamers. Its path forward was already complicated: Trump blasted the measure last week, but later Tuesday he was expected to travel to Capitol Hill to rally Republicans behind it.

The Kochs' opposition to the GOP leadership bill could make it even more difficult for House Speaker Paul Ryan to unite his caucus behind it. Conservatives favor a second bill, also due for a vote this week, from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

Garza said in a statement that “it’s clear there’s strong support in Congress and among the American people to provide permanency to the Dreamers,” but neither bill “affords the Dreamers the certainty they need to make a full contribution to American communities,” and both “include arbitrary cuts to legal immigration.”

Trump dreams the impossible: Winning Minnesota

A growing urban-rural divide has put the state on the president’s radar.


Donald Trump arrives in Minnesota ahead of his only campaign rally in the state in 2016. He narrowly lost it to Hillary Clinton, and if he wants to flip it in 2020, he will need to sustain large majorities in the state’s northeastern Iron Range.
The last Republican presidential candidate to win Minnesota was Richard Nixon nearly a half century ago, sweeping the famously populist state on his way to one of the largest landslides in U.S. history.

Now, President Donald Trump, who finished fewer than 45,000 votes behind Hillary Clinton in Minnesota despite a threadbare effort that saw him visit the state only once, is intent on mining an urban-rural divide to capture the state in 2020.

It’s an ambitious expansion of the electoral map but Trump last summer confided to aides and state GOP officials in an Oval Office meeting that he regretted not campaigning more aggressively in Minnesota, suggesting he would have won had he held a second rally there. In the months since, Republicans have come to see the state Democratic Party’s increasing embrace of liberal candidates and policies as an opening for them to attract voters from rural, outstate districts who may be pro-union, and support abortion or gun rights.

“Whereas a lot of people around the country look at 2016 as, ‘wow, we really accomplished something,’” said Chris Hupke, a 2016 senior adviser to Trump in Minnesota, “(party activists) are viewing it as just the beginning.”

The latest sign of Trump’s growing optimism to turn the state red comes tonight, when he travels to Duluth to rally supporters of Republican Pete Stauber in one of the nation’s most competitive congressional districts. Organizers moved the event to a larger venue as demand for tickets soared, after the president’s campaign signaled it would make a serious play for the state in 2020.

“I think his campaign and his team realize there are incredible opportunities in this state to support his agenda,” Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan told POLITICO. “I do believe we will deliver our state to him in 2020.”

Electoral shifts within the state — among rural and blue-collar voters — may bode well for the president’s party in the midterms. Minnesota, which will have an open race for governor and two Senate contests, has two of the four congressional districts nationwide that experienced the largest swings from Mitt Romney in 2008 to Trump in 2016.

Overall, Trump won 78 of the state’s 87 counties. While Clinton hung on statewide, boosted by the population-rich Minneapolis-St. Paul area, she also alienated rural voters, some of whom still chafe at her “basket of deplorables” remark describing half of Trump’s supporters — her vote total was nearly 180,000 votes behind Barack Obama in 2012.

“You often hear about ‘Minnesota Nice,’” said Patti Anderson, a Republican former state auditor now running for a seat in the legislature, referring to the stereotype used to describe people in her state who present as courteous, reserved and mild-mannered. “But that was really offensive — to anyone, I think. When you say (deplorables,) that’s you talking about us, or our brothers or our uncles.”

In the legislature that year, Republicans expanded on the House majority they captured in 2014, while also narrowly winning the majority in the state Senate. The GOP flipped seats in rural areas like Willmar, Albert Lea and Fairview Township, which had swung between Republicans and “old-school,” lunch-bucket Democrats, now a shrinking breed, said Ben Golnik, a GOP strategist in St. Paul.

Minnesota Republicans believe Democrats are becoming out of step with the electorate by advocating progressive policies like single-payer health care, driver‘s licenses for unauthorized immigrants and liberal refugee resettlement rules.

“The DFL is being run by Minneapolis-St. Paul uber-liberals,” Golnik said.

These Republicans also think the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, as Democrats are known in Minnesota, dug itself a deeper hole when activists made their midterm endorsements this month.

Democrats selected liberal state Rep. Erin Murphy for governor. Her running mate, first-term state Rep. Erin Maye Quade, a former aide to Rep. Keith Ellison, will be the first openly LGBT candidate for statewide office, and is known for speaking out against sexual harassment at the Capitol and leading a sit-in to push for votes on gun-control bills. The endorsement of the Murphy-Quade ticket came at the expense of two candidates, state Auditor Rebecca Otto and retiring Rep. Tim Walz, who is supported by numerous trades unions and the statewide teachers union.

Anderson and others said she viewed the move as Democrats turning their backs on working people, a constituency courted by Trump. She predicted he would benefit from the state’s populist streak.

“We elected (Independent) Jesse Ventura (as governor,)” she said. “We elected, and reelected, (U.S. Sen.) Paul Wellstone, not necessarily because of his liberal politics, but because he was honest. He said what he meant.”

Republicans, meantime, endorsed pro-Trump Jeff Johnson over GOP former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who called then-candidate Trump “unsound, uninformed, unhinged and unfit,” before the election. More recently, Pawlenty said he ultimately backed the party’s nominee in 2016 and since has spoken approvingly of the policies pursued by the White House.

The outcome of the GOP’s August primary could be a factor for Trump in two years.

“Tim’s got to make up his own mind about how supportive he is going to be,” Johnson told MARCA POLITICA. “For us to win in Minnesota, we need our base to show up; and we need to win over some of the new voters that Trump won in 2016.”

If Trump can flip Minnesota in 2020, he will need to sustain large majorities on northeastern Minnesota’s Iron Range, including in the 8th Congressional District, which presents a rare pickup opportunity for the GOP this year with the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Rick Nolan, leaving office.

“I think the president, the intensity for President Trump is really high in our 8th Congressional District,” said Stauber, a St. Louis county commissioner and the leading Republican in the race.

Stauber said Trump called him in March and asked, “What can I do to help?” Given enthusiasm for Trump in the district, Stauber said, he asked him to visit. Trump carried the historically Democratic, largely rural district by 15 percentage points in 2016.

While Republicans point to the Trump lawn signs and bumper stickers and the proliferation of red “Make America Great Again” hats that bob up and down on the heads of Minnesota boaters like buoys, Mike Erlandson, a former chairman of the DFL, said he considers the Trump factor in Minnesota “relatively strong, but very unpredictable.”

“It’s not a surprise that the president’s coming to Minnesota to do some campaigning, and he’s picking a district that he was probably as popular in as anywhere in the state in the last election,” Erlandson said.

However, he added, “He’s coming early (in the election cycle,) and maybe he’s coming early because there are members of the Republican Party who I would guess would rather have him come early, do his thing, and not remind voters again later in the process.”

For his part, Stauber said Trump has only improved his prospects in the state since taking office: “His pro-job, pro-growth agenda is helping us all, and the tax cut and jobs act, just in the 8th Congressional District, on average, $1,733 for the average taxpayer,” Stauber said. “That’s real money.”

Democrats are seizing on the visit to ramp up organizing in the state and to fuel their own campaigns, with a rush of Democrats tying fundraising appeals to Trump’s appearance.

In an email Friday on behalf of Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote, “Donald Trump barely lost Minnesota in 2016 — so now Republican operatives across the country are telling their billionaire donors the same thing: If we dump truckloads of money into Minnesota, this could be our chance to win.”

She wrote, “We can’t let that happen.”

Democratic activists are preparing to march and rally in Duluth during Trump’s appearance. Emily Nygren, chairwoman of the local DFL, said Trump’s election has propelled more young people and progressives to participate in politics in the district.

“We’re still a very strong union district, and we’ve got really great, strong values that align very well with the DFL party,” she said. “We’re working really hard.”

martes, 19 de junio de 2018

How Democratic Is the Euro?

Michele Tantussi 

If the European Union is to remain viable and democratic at the same time, policymakers will have to pay closer attention to the demanding requirements of delegating decisions to unelected bodies. They should promote such a delegation of sovereignty only when it truly enhances the long-term performance of their democracies.

 When Italy’s president recently vetoed the appointment of the Euroskeptic Paolo Savona as finance minister in the government proposed by the Five Star Movement-League party alliance, did he safeguard or undermine his country’s democracy? Beyond constitutional strictures specific to the Italian context, the question goes to the heart of democratic legitimacy. The difficult issues it raises need to be addressed in a principled and appropriate manner if our liberal democracies are to be restored to their health.

The euro represents a treaty commitment from which there is no clear exit within prevailing rules of the game. President Sergio Mattarella and his defenders point out that an exit from the euro had not been subject to debate in the election campaign that brought the populist coalition to power, and that Savona’s appointment threatened a financial market meltdown and economic chaos. Mattarella’s detractors argue that he overstepped his authority and has allowed financial markets to veto the selection of a minister by a popularly elected government.

By joining the euro, Italy surrendered monetary sovereignty to an external, independent decision-maker, the European Central Bank. It also undertook specific commitments with respect to the conduct of its fiscal policy, though these constraints are not as “hard” as those framing monetary policy. These obligations place real limits on the Italian authorities’ macroeconomic policy choices. In particular, the absence of a domestic currency means Italians cannot choose their own inflation target or devalue their currency vis-à-vis foreign currencies. They also have to keep their fiscal deficits below certain ceilings.

Such external restraints on policy action need not conflict with democracy. Sometimes it makes sense for the electorate to tie its hands when doing so helps it achieve better outcomes. Hence the principle of “democratic delegation”: Democracies can enhance their performance by delegating aspects of decision-making to independent agencies.

The canonical case for democratic delegation arises when there is a paramount need for credible commitment to a particular course of action. Monetary policy is perhaps the clearest instance of this. Many economists subscribe to the view that central banks can generate output and employment gains through expansionary monetary policy only if they are able to produce surprise inflation in the short run. But, because expectations adjust to central bank behavior, discretionary monetary policy is futile: it yields higher inflation but no output or employment increases. Accordingly, it is far better to insulate monetary policy from political pressures by delegating it to technocratic, independent central banks that are charged with the singular objective of price stability.

Superficially, the euro and the ECB can be seen as the solution to this inflationary conundrum in the European context. They protect the Italian electorate from their politicians’ counterproductive inflationary tendencies. But there are peculiarities to the European situation that make the democratic delegation argument more suspect.

For one thing, the ECB is an international institution, bearing responsibility for monetary policy for the eurozone as a whole rather than Italy alone. As a result, it will be generally less responsive to Italian economic circumstances than a purely Italian, but equally independent central bank would have been. This problem is aggravated by the fact that the ECB chooses its own inflation target, which was last defined in 2003 as “below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.”

It is difficult to justify the delegation of the inflation target itself to unelected technocrats. When some countries in the eurozone are hit by adverse demand shocks, the target determines the extent of painful wage and price deflation these countries must undergo to readjust. The lower the target, the more deflation they must bear. There was a good economic argument for the ECB to have lifted its inflation target following the euro crisis to facilitate competitiveness adjustments in Southern Europe. Insulation from political accountability was probably a bad thing in this case.

As Paul Tucker, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, discusses in his masterful recent book Unelected Power: The Quest for Legitimacy in Central Banking and the Administrative State, the argument for democratic delegation is a subtle one. The distinction between policy goals and how they are implemented needs to be clear. Insofar as they entail distributional consequences or tradeoffs between contending goals (employment versus price stability, for example), policy objectives have to be determined through politics. Delegation is warranted at best in the conduct of policy that serves politically determined objectives. Tucker argues, correctly, that few independent agencies are based on a careful application of principles that would pass the test of democratic legitimacy.1

This shortcoming is far worse in the case of delegation to international agencies or treaties. Too often, international economic commitments serve not to fix democratic failures at home, but to privilege corporate or financial interests and undermine domestic social bargains. The European Union’s legitimacy deficit derives from the popular suspicion that its institutional arrangements have veered too far from the former to the latter. When Mattarella cited the reaction of financial markets in justifying his veto of Savona, he reinforced those suspicions.

If the euro – and indeed the EU itself – is to remain viable and democratic at the same time, policymakers will have to pay closer attention to the demanding requirements of delegating decisions to unelected bodies. This does not mean that they should resist surrendering sovereignty to supranational agencies at all costs. But they should recognize that economists’ and other technocrats’ policy preferences rarely endow policies with sufficient democratic legitimacy on their own. They should promote such a delegation of sovereignty only when it truly enhances the long-term performance of their democracies, not when it merely advances the interests of globalist elites.

lunes, 18 de junio de 2018

Young adults around the world are less religious by several measures

Adults under 40 are less likely to be religiously affiliated

Perhaps the simplest way to measure attachment to religion among people of all ages is to look at the percentage of people who identify with a religious group. Pew Research Center surveys around the world routinely ask: “What is your present religion, if any?” Respondents are given a country-specific list of potential responses (which generally include several major world religions, as well as “atheist,” “agnostic” or “nothing in particular”).

The vast majority of people around the world claim a religious identity, such as Christian, Muslim or Hindu. But there is a clear age gap: Out of 106 countries surveyed, young adults are significantly less likely to be affiliated with a religious group in 41. In only two countries are young adults more likely to identify with a religion, while there is no significant difference in 63 countries.

Looked at another way, young adults are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated. This is especially true in North America, where in both the U.S. and Canada younger people are less likely to claim a religious identity. (These findings are in line with the rise of the religious “nones” in the U.S., which is being driven largely by high levels of disaffiliation among young generations.) The gap is also prevalent in Europe – in 22 out of 35 countries – and in Latin America, where it applies in 14 out of 19 countries (including Mexico).

However, the pattern is not as pronounced in other parts of the world. In the Middle East-North Africa region and sub-Saharan Africa, where most people identify as either Muslim or Christian, there are no countries where young people are less affiliated. In fact, the only two countries out of a combined 30 in these regions with an affiliation gap are Chad and Ghana, where young adults are more likely than their elders to claim a religious affiliation – making these nations the only exceptions to the prevailing pattern around the world.

In the Asia-Pacific region, a religiously diverse area with a wide variety of religious practices, 17 out of 20 countries show no significant contrasts. However, the three nations in that region that do show differences – South Korea, Australia and Japan – have some of the world’s biggest gaps. In South Korea, 39% of younger adults are affiliated with a religious group, compared with 63% of their elders, a difference of 24 points. In Australia, the gap is 23 points (43% vs. 66%), and in Japan it is 18 points (31% vs. 49%). In many other countries in the region, such as Pakistan, India and Indonesia, affiliation is all but universal across both age groups.

There is a particularly large gap in religious affiliation – 28 percentage points – in Canada (49% of adults under 40 and 77% of older adults are affiliated). The U.S. differential is smaller, though still considerable at 17 points (66% vs. 83%).

In the average country out of 35 in Europe, there is a 10-point difference between the share of younger adults who identify with a religion (75%) and the share of older adults who do (85%), with the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden each showing gaps of 20 points or more. In the Latin America-Caribbean region, the average country has a gap of 6 points (87% vs. 93%), with Uruguay and the Dominican Republic exhibiting large differences.

Averaging the national percentages in each of the 106 countries surveyed yields a global picture that clearly reinforces the regional patterns: The share of younger adults in the average country worldwide who claim a religion is 85%, compared with 90% among people ages 40 or older. 16
Importance of religion: Older adults regard religion as less important in only two countries

Asking people about their affiliation is a basic way to measure a society’s overall attachment to religion. Asking respondents how important religion is in their lives goes one step further, and may be the most direct way to gauge the intensity of that connection. While this question does not directly measure any particular religious practice, it correlates well with more concrete measures – and also has an advantage in that it works equally well across many different religious groups, which is not the case for some specific measures of belief and practice.

Younger adults in many different parts of the world are less likely than their elders to say that religion is “very important” to them. This is a particularly prevalent theme in Latin America, where age gaps appear in 14 out of 19 countries. It is also common in Europe, where 19 out of 35 countries show significant gaps. The United States and Canada also post larger-than-average differences.

There are even significant age gaps in four out of nine countries surveyed in the Middle East-North Africa region, where younger and older adults are almost universally affiliated.

In the Asia-Pacific region, there is no significant difference between age groups in 15 out of 20 countries surveyed, although – as on the affiliation question – South Korea and Japan again are among the countries where the young are less religious. And in sub-Saharan Africa, younger and older adults tend to give similar responses when asked about the importance of religion in most of the 21 countries surveyed.

Globally, adults under 40 are less likely to say that religion is very important in their lives in 46 out of 106 nations, while adults who are 40 or older are less likely to say this in only two countries. In 58 countries, there is no significant difference.

When the national percentages are averaged across all of the countries with available data, younger adults are 6 percentage points less likely than their elders to say religion is “very important” in their lives.

In Latin America, the average country has a gap of 10 points. While the average age gap in Europe is somewhat smaller (7 points), the region is home to two of the world’s biggest country-level gaps: Poland, where 16% of adults under 40 and 40% of older people say religion is very important to them, and Greece (41% vs. 63%). There is also a 7-point gap in the average Middle Eastern country, led by Lebanon (20-point gap) and Algeria (12 points).

In a couple of countries (Georgia and Ghana), the age gap goes against the global pattern; in these places, young adults are more religious than their elders by this measure. For example, in Ghana – where young adults are also more likely to be affiliated – 91% of younger adults say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 85% of older adults.

Looking at specific religious groups, half (50%) of younger Christians in the average country – in contrast to 56% of those in the older age group – say religion is very important in their lives. The gap between younger and older Muslims in the average country is 3 percentage points, with 76% of those under 40 and 79% of those ages 40 and older saying that religion is very important.

Viewed another way, in roughly half the countries where data are available on Christians (37 out of 78), young Christian adults are significantly less likely than older Christians to say religion is very important to them.

Muslims’ responses about the importance of religion in their lives show less of a consistent age gap. Young Muslims in 10 countries surveyed are less likely than their elders to ascribe a high level of importance to religion, while in 32 other countries, there is no significant difference.
Weekly religious service attendance: Young adults worship less often in both Christian and Muslim populations

Young adults are, on the whole, less likely than their elders to say they attend religious services every week.

Lower attendance among young adults is especially pervasive in Latin America, where it is seen in 17 out of 19 countries, and in North America, where both the U.S. and Canada show substantial gaps. The pattern also applies to more than half of the countries surveyed in the Middle East-North Africa region and in Europe.

Globally, younger adults are less likely to attend prayer services than their elders in 53 out of 102 countries surveyed, while the opposite is true in just three – Liberia, Rwanda and Armenia. Liberia is a major outlier by this measure; younger Liberians are much more likely than their older compatriots to say they worship at least weekly (85% vs. 66%). One reason for this could be that recent civil wars in Liberia may have affected levels of religious commitment differently among older and younger Liberians (for more on this theory, see sidebar below).

Unusual age patterns in religious commitment linked to violent conflict

While the general trend throughout the world is for younger people to enjoy more peace and prosperity than previous generations – forming the basis for one possible explanation for the persistent age gap in religious commitment – this is not always the case. In fact, the few countries where young adults are more religious than their elders all have something in common: a recent history of violent conflicts leading to civilian deaths.17

Any number of possible factors may explain these exceptional cases, and each country has its own set of unique circumstances. But it may be that conditions in these places were at least somewhat more stable when older adults were coming of age, and the existential insecurity experienced by younger adults explains why they are more religious. Indeed, research has found that religious identity is more likely to be influenced by events in early adulthood than later.18

In Liberia, younger adults are more likely than older adults to pray every day and attend weekly religious services. These age groups also differ in their affiliations: Younger Liberians are almost exclusively Christian or Muslim (96%), but a considerable minority of Liberians ages 40 and older (29%) identify with an ancestral, animist, tribal or other traditional African religion.19 Liberia has experienced two civil wars within the lifetimes of younger adults, one from 1989 to 1997 and the other from 1999 to 2003. The survey in Liberia was conducted in 2009; all adults under 40 in the survey would have been born after 1969, with most coming of age during wartime.

In addition, younger adults in Ghana – where clan-based violence over royal succession killed more than 2,000 people in the early 1990s – are more likely to be affiliated and to say that religion is very important. In Rwanda, where government forces and militias killed over 500,000 people and displaced millions in 1994, younger adults attend religious services more frequently than older adults. And in Chad, which has experienced violent conflicts involving the government, rebel groups and neighboring countries for decades, younger adults are more likely to identify with a religion and pray every day.

Not all of the examples are in Africa: Younger adults in Georgia say religion is very important to them more often than older adults do. Georgia has experienced a secessionist war in Abkhazia and a conflict with Russia in the past three decades, although the fall of the Soviet Union may also be a factor in religious differences by age. Older adults in Georgia mostly came of age during the Soviet period, when religion was repressed – including by Georgian-born leader Joseph Stalin.

At the same time, other countries have experienced conflict during the same period and do not show these types of patterns. In Bosnia-Herzegovina and Israel, for example, any differences in which younger adults may appear more religious are not statistically significant. And, in the Palestinian territories and the Democratic Republic of Congo, younger adults have experienced a great deal of armed conflict but still follow the prevailing global pattern of being less religious than their elders.

In the average country around the world, adults under 40 are 6 percentage points less likely than older people to say they go to worship services weekly (36% vs. 42%).

Again, by this measure, gap sizes vary by region. In sub-Saharan Africa, younger and older adults attend at similarly high rates (averages of 78% and 79%, respectively). But in the average country in the Middle East-North Africa region, just 44% of young adults say they are weekly attenders – well below the 55% average of those ages 40 and older who describe themselves this way. The average country’s age gap in worship attendance in this overwhelmingly Muslim region is similar to the one in the predominantly Christian Latin America region (38% vs. 48%) There also is a 6-point gap in the average country in the religiously diverse Asia-Pacific region (31% vs. 37%).

In Europe, weekly attendance is less common overall, but there is still an age gap (10% vs. 16%). And Poland stands out as having by far the largest gap among all countries surveyed: 26% of Polish adults under 40 say they attend religious services weekly, compared with 55% of their elders. The unusually large age gap in Poland may be due to the Catholic Church’s association with nationalism, Polish identity and resistance to the Soviet Union during Poland’s communist period; younger Poles did not experience this period firsthand, but it may have had a lasting impact among the older generation.20

Adults under 40 in Colombia, another predominantly Catholic country, also are much less likely than their elders to go to church regularly. And there are similar patterns in different religious contexts in the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Jordan and Tunisia.

Indeed, at the global level, younger Muslims attend mosque less frequently, on average, than older Muslims, just as younger Christians attend church less often than older Christians.

Measuring religious observance by weekly attendance at worship services does not work equally well for all major religious groups. While it is generally a reliable measure of religious norms within Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), it may be less well suited for Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern religions.21

For Hindus, data are only available from the U.S.; the 11-point gap in weekly attendance between older and younger American Hindus is not necessarily representative of Hindus globally, since the vast majority of the world’s Hindus live in India.
Daily prayer: Large age gaps in the Americas

The generational divide in religious commitment is most apparent when examining daily prayer. Not only is it the measure with the highest number of countries with an age gap, but it is also the measure by which the average country has the biggest gap globally.

Young adults are less likely to pray daily in all 19 countries surveyed in Latin America, in both the U.S. and Canada, and in 27 out of 35 European countries. Gaps also exist in several countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East-North Africa region and sub-Saharan Africa. Overall, the pattern holds in 71 out of 105 countries surveyed.

In the U.S., 44% of young adults engage in daily prayer, compared with 62% of those ages 40 and older. Canadians in both age groups pray less than their American counterparts, yet they also have a large age gap, with 16% of younger and 30% of older adults praying daily. There also are double-digit differences between the average shares of older and younger adults who pray daily in Latin America, the Middle East and Europe.

In sub-Saharan Africa, again, the average country’s gap is negligible at 3 percentage points, with high rates of daily prayer among both younger and older adults (74% vs. 77%). Similar to religious service attendance, Liberia bucks the global pattern – young Liberians are more likely than older Liberians to pray daily. This is also the case in Chad, where young adults also are more likely to be religiously affiliated.

Despite regional variations, the global pattern is clear: In the average country, across 105 countries surveyed, fewer than half of adults under 40 (44%) say they pray at least once a day, while most people ages 40 and older (54%) do this. 22

Some of the countries with especially large age gaps in daily prayer are highly religious overall, while others are not. For example, in Nicaragua, young adults are 17 percentage points less likely to say they pray daily than older Nicaraguans (67% vs. 83%). Finland has a similarly sized gap of 15 points, even though daily prayer is far less common among Finns in both age groups (8% vs. 23%).

An age gap in daily prayer is also found within multiple religious groups. Overall, young Christian adults are less likely to pray daily in 48 countries – a solid majority of the 77 countries with a sufficient sample of Christians to analyze. In the average country, 42% of young Christians pray daily, compared with 51% of older Christians. For Muslims, there is a significant age gap in daily prayer in 16 of 41 countries with data, with an average gap of 7 percentage points across those countries.

There is a similar age gap among Hindus in India (74% vs. 81%) – where more than 90% of the world’s Hindus live – and an even larger one among Hindus in the U.S. (39% vs. 62%). (India and the U.S. are the only countries with a sufficient number of Hindu respondents to enable comparisons between age groups.)

Among Jews in both the U.S. and Israel, there is no significant age gap in daily prayer, perhaps in part because Orthodox Jews – who tend to have more children – make up a growing share of both Jewish populations, and thus a larger percentage of young Jewish adults.

The Age Gap in Religion Around the World

By several measures, young adults tend to be less religious than their elders; the opposite is rarely true

(Chad Springer/Image Source/Getty Images)

In the United States, religious congregations have been graying for decades, and young adults are now much less religious than their elders. Recent surveys have found that younger adults are far less likely than older generations to identify with a religion, believe in God or engage in a variety of religious practices.

But this is not solely an American phenomenon: Lower religious observance among younger adults is common around the world, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center surveys conducted in more than 100 countries and territories over the last decade.

Although the age gap in religious commitment is larger in some nations than in others, it occurs in many different economic and social contexts – in developing countries as well as advanced industrial economies, in Muslim-majority nations as well as predominantly Christian states, and in societies that are, overall, highly religious as well as those that are comparatively secular.

For example, adults younger than 40 are less likely than older adults to say religion is “very important” in their lives not only in wealthy and relatively secular countries such as Canada, Japan and Switzerland, but also in countries that are less affluent and more religious, such as Iran, Poland and Nigeria.

While this pattern is widespread, it is not universal. In many countries, there is no statistically significant difference in levels of religious observance between younger and older adults. In the places where there is a difference, however, it is almost always in the direction of younger adults being less religious than their elders.
Same pattern seen over multiple measures of religious commitment

Overall, adults ages 18 to 39 are less likely than those ages 40 and older to say religion is very important to them in 46 out of 106 countries surveyed by Pew Research Center over the last decade. In 58 countries, there are no significant differences between younger and older adults on this question. And just two countries – the former Soviet republic of Georgia and the West African country of Ghana – have younger adults who are, on average, more religious than their elders. (For theories about why younger adults often are less religious, see Chapter 1. For a discussion of some of these exceptions, see the sidebar in Chapter 2.)

Similar patterns also are found using three other standard measures of religious identification and commitment: affiliation with a religious group, daily prayer and weekly worship attendance.

In 41 countries, adults under 40 are significantly less likely than their elders to have a religious affiliation, while in only two countries (Chad and Ghana) are younger adults more likely to identify with a religious group. In 63 countries, there is no statistically significant difference in affiliation rates.

Younger adults are less likely to say they pray daily in 71 of 105 countries and territories for which Pew Research Center survey data are available, while they are more likely to pray daily in two countries (Chad and Liberia). And adults under 40 are less likely to attend religious services on a weekly basis in 53 of 102 countries; the opposite is true in just three countries (Armenia, Liberia and Rwanda).

While the number of countries with a significant age gap shows how widespread this pattern is, it does not give a sense of the magnitude of the differences between older and younger adults on these measures.

In many countries, the gaps are relatively small. Indeed, the average gap between younger adults and older adults across all the countries surveyed is 5 percentage points for affiliation, 6 points for importance of religion, 6 points for worship attendance and 9 points for prayer.

But a substantial number of countries have much bigger differences. There are gulfs of at least 10 percentage points between the shares of older and younger adults who identify with a religious group in more than two dozen countries – mostly with predominantly Christian populations in Europe and the Americas. For example, the share of U.S. adults under age 40 who identify with a religious group is 17 percentage points lower than the share of older adults who are religiously affiliated. The gap is even larger in neighboring Canada (28 points). And there are double-digit age gaps in affiliation in countries as far flung as South Korea (24 points), Uruguay (18 points) and Finland (17 points).

A note on averages

To help make sense of an enormous pool of data, this report sometimes cites global averages of country-level data. In calculating the averages, each country is weighted equally, regardless of population size. Global averages, therefore, should be interpreted as the average finding among all countries surveyed, not as population-weighted averages representing all people around the world.
Differences among regions, religions

Age gaps are more common in some geographic regions than others. For instance, in 14 out of 19 countries and territories surveyed in Latin America and the Caribbean, adults under age 40 are significantly less likely than their elders to say religion is very important in their lives. This is also the case in about half of the European countries surveyed (18 out of 35), and in both countries in North America (the U.S. and Canada; Mexico is included in the figures for Latin America).

On the other hand, in sub-Saharan Africa, where overall levels of religious commitment are among the highest in the world, there is no significant difference between older and younger adults in terms of the importance of religion in 17 out of 21 countries surveyed.

Age gaps are also more common within some religious groups than in others. For example, religion is less important to younger Christian adults in nearly half of all the countries around the world where sample sizes are large enough to allow age comparisons among Christians (37 out of 78). For Muslims, this is the case in about one-quarter of countries surveyed (10 out of 42). Among Buddhists, younger adults are significantly less religious in just one country (the United States) out of five countries for which data are available. There is no age gap by this measure among Jews in the U.S. or Israel, or among Hindus in the U.S. or India.1
Do age gaps mean the world is becoming less religious?

The widespread pattern in which younger adults tend to be less religious than older adults may have multiple potential causes. Some scholars argue that people naturally become more religious as they age; to others, the age gap is a sign that parts of the world are secularizing (i.e., becoming less religious over time). (For a detailed discussion of theories about age gaps and secularization, see Chapter 1.)

But even if parts of the world are secularizing, it is not necessarily the case that the world’s population, overall, is becoming less religious. On the contrary, the most religious areas of the world are experiencing the fastest population growth because they have high fertility rates and relatively young populations.

Previously published projections show that if current trends continue, countries with high levels of religious affiliation will grow fastest. The same is true for levels of religious commitment: The fastest population growth appears to be occurring in countries where many people say religion is very important in their lives.

These are among the key findings of a new Pew Research Center analysis of surveys collected over the last decade in 106 countries. The data analyzed in this report come from 13 different Pew Research Center studies, including annual Global Attitudes Surveys as well as major studies on religion in sub-Saharan Africa; the Middle East and other countries with large Muslim populations; Latin America; the United States; Central and Eastern Europe; and Western Europe.

The number of countries analyzed varies by measure and type of comparison. While data are available for as many as 106 countries depending on the measure, the number of countries with reliable data on a particular religious group depends on the size of that group in each country’s sample. For example, there are sufficient data to gauge the importance of religion among Christians in 84 countries, and the sample sizes are large enough to compare responses among older and younger Christians in 78 of those 84 countries.

Another limitation is that the measures of religious observance contained in many surveys around the world and analyzed in this report may not be equally suitable for all religious groups. In particular, rates of prayer and attendance at worship services are generally seen as reliable indicators of religious observance within Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), but they may not be as applicable for Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern religions. Because of these disparities, this report does not seek to compare levels of religious commitment between the world’s major religions (e.g., to compare Christians with Buddhists or Muslims). Rather, the primary focus is on age differences within religious groups and within countries or geographic regions (e.g., comparing younger Christians with older Christians, or younger Indonesians with older Indonesians).

This study, produced with funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation, is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, a broader effort to understand religious change, including the demographic patterns shaping religion around the world. Previous reports have focused on gender and religion, religion and education and population growth projections for major world religions.

The rest of this report looks in more detail at both age gaps in religious commitment (Chapter 2) and overall levels of religious commitment around the world (Chapter 3), by four standard measures: religious affiliation, importance of religion, attendance and prayer. Appendixes detail the methodology and sources used, and include tables that show each of the four measures for every country surveyed with data for overall levels of religious commitment, figures for adults over and under 40, age gaps for the total population and age gaps by religious group. But, first, Chapter 1 examines theories about why levels of religious observance vary so markedly across different age groups and different parts of the world.
Why do levels of religious observance vary by age and country?

Social scientists have proposed various explanations for age gaps in religious commitment around the world. One common explanation is that new generations become less religious in tandem with economic development – as collective worries about day-to-day survival become less pervasive and tragic events become less frequent. According to this line of thinking, each generation in a steadily developing society would be less religious than the last, which would explain why young adults are less religious than their elders at any given time.

Rising education levels are often closely tied to economic development. Some theorists suggest education could reduce religious identity and practice, although empirical findings about the relationship between education and religion are complex.2 In societies where access to education is spreading and the average number of years of schooling is rising, younger generations tend to receive more education than their parents and grandparents did. Directly or indirectly, this increase in education could be part of why younger adults are less religious.

Another theory is that differences in religious commitment reflect change during the life course. Although young adults often start out less religious than their elders, they tend to become more devout as they age, have children and begin to face their own mortality (or so the theory suggests).

These explanations are not mutually exclusive – it is possible that young people will become more religious as they age, but will still be less religious than previous generations if their countries become more affluent and stable. Pew Research Center surveys and other international data provide some evidence for both societal and life-course influences on religious commitment.
The ‘existential insecurity’ explanation for variation in religion

Variations in religious commitment also can be attributed to differences in the way countries – and often whole regions – developed historically, and how each society practices religion. Even though these differences do not directly explain the existence of age gaps, they affect how successive generations experience religion and respond to questions about observance.

As the map above shows, the countries with the highest shares of people who say religion is very important in their lives are in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America, while those with the lowest shares are in Europe, North America, East Asia and Australia.

This has led many researchers to observe that people in poorer parts of the world are, on average, more religious than those in societies with advanced economies.3 Other indicators of economic development – such as education, life expectancy and income equality – also tend to align with measures of religious commitment.

Pew Research Center data show, for example, a clear correlation between life expectancy at birth in a country and the percentage of its people who attend religious services weekly. That is, the higher the life expectancy in a country, the less likely people are to attend services frequently.

Political scientists Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, examining findings from the World Values Survey, attribute the pattern of higher religious commitment in poor places to stark differences in existential insecurity – that is, the degree of safety and security people feel as they go about their daily lives.4

As their theory goes, in places where people face a constant threat of premature death due to hunger, war or disease, feelings of vulnerability tend to drive people to religion, which in turn provides hope and reduces anxiety. In countries with advanced economies, meanwhile, people are more likely to feel safe – in part because technology and infrastructure investments in these societies have helped people overcome many common health problems, cope with severe weather, and deal with other types of emergencies that can cause existential anxiety. Norris and Inglehart contend that people in these countries rely less on religion for emotional support or for explanations of the unknown.

When new cohorts of adults grow up in societies with greater existential security than their parents had – as may be the case in a country with improving economic conditions – young adults may drift away from religion, producing the age differences described in this report. By the same token, a decline in existential security within a country that falls into civil war or some other calamity could help to explain some of the exceptions – places where younger adults are more religious than their elders (see sidebar in Chapter 2).

Can tragedies increase religious commitment levels?

Do large-scale catastrophes such as famines, wars and earthquakes spur increases in religious behavior? It’s hard to tell, because researchers usually lack comparative data from before and after a disaster. An exception, though, is a February 2011 earthquake in New Zealand that resulted in 185 deaths and thousands of injuries.

The earthquake and its aftershocks struck between the 2009 and 2011 phases of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, a national longitudinal survey. This allowed researchers to compare levels of religious affiliation before and after the quake, and they discovered that people living in the Canterbury region, where the earthquake hit, seemed to become more religious.5

From 2009 to 2011, the Canterbury region showed a net gain in religious affiliation of 3.4%. That compares with a 1.6% net drop in religious affiliation across the rest of New Zealand during that same period.

The researchers cautioned that explanations for conversion can be complicated; they did not directly link their findings to a quest for comfort by the earthquake’s survivors, and they noted that some people in the affected area turned away from religion. Still, the researchers described the “significant overall increase in religious faith” among those affected by the earthquake as “remarkable.”

In a separate study, the economist Jeanet Sinding Bentzen found that people living in places where earthquakes and other unpredictable natural disasters, such as tsunamis and floods, recently occurred are more religious than people living elsewhere.6 Likewise, among victims of Hurricane Katrina, which battered the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2005, 67% reported becoming more religious as a result of the trauma.7 Survivors whose religious commitment increased also had lower rates of mental illness and suicidal thoughts following the hurricane than others.

This effect is not limited to natural disasters. Some survivors who were inside or in the immediate vicinity of the World Trade Center buildings during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, reported having stronger religious faith after the attacks.8 There was also a short-lived increase in worship service attendance among the U.S. general public immediately after the attacks.9
Religious commitment is lower in countries with higher education, higher GDP and greater income equality

Several measures besides life expectancy at birth can be used to measure existential security within countries. For example, education is a common proxy for prosperity and development. Plotting the average number of years of formal schooling adults have completed in each country alongside the share of adults who attend religious services at least weekly shows that more education is associated with less frequent religious service attendance. Indeed, most countries in sub-Saharan Africa have high percentages of adults attending religious services weekly and relatively few years of completed schooling, on average. Conversely, European countries tend to have lower rates of weekly attendance and more years of schooling.

In a similar way, a country’s wealth – as measured by per capita gross domestic product (GDP) –is associated with its average rate of daily prayer. Countries with higher levels of wealth typically have lower levels of prayer, and vice versa. In every surveyed country with a GDP of more than $30,000 per person, fewer than 40% of adults say they pray every day – except in the United States. On this measure, the U.S. (where 55% of adults pray daily) is a major outlier; of 102 countries studied, it is the only one with higher-than-average levels of both prayer and wealth.10

Regional clustering is apparent on this measure, too. Nearly every country in sub-Saharan Africa has a per-person GDP under $10,000 and above-average rates of daily prayer. European countries are scattered across the full range in terms of GDP, but the only one with a rate of daily prayer at or above the global average is Moldova, which has Europe’s lowest GDP per capita. Similarly, the only country in the Middle East-North Africa region where fewer than 50% of adults pray every day is Israel, which also has a markedly higher GDP than the other countries in the region for which survey data are available.

Finally, it also appears that economic inequality is correlated with higher levels of religious commitment. Societies with very unequal distribution of income tend to be more religious, while those who live in relatively egalitarian societies say religion is less important, on average. (This is measured by a country’s Gini coefficient, the most common measure of income inequality.11)

Overall, regardless of how religious commitment or prosperity are measured, the general pattern holds: Religious commitment is lower in places where life is easier. And in places where life is steadily becoming easier, the theory goes, younger adults generally are less religious than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.
Does aging itself make people more religious?

Many scholars also point to the aging process itself as an explanation for why young people are less religious than their elders. In a sense, this dovetails with the “existential insecurity” argument: Growing older and nearing the end of one’s life could produce a sense of existential worry in an individual, regardless of how comfortable the conditions are in their country. Data gathered in Western countries in particular indicate that religious identity and commitment often change throughout the course of people’s lives, as they leave their parents’ homes, start families, advance in their careers and age through retirement.

Research has shown that religious attachments tend to peak during adolescence, decline through young and middle adulthood, and then increase through most of late adulthood. For instance, Pew Research Center’s analysis of Gallup poll data suggests that U.S. adults born in the 1930s attended worship more frequently once they reached their 60s. Other longitudinal studies (which surveyed the same people at intervals over decades) find a “retirement surge” in religiosity among older people. While not ruling out the influence of other factors – such as when and where people live – one research team argued that “life course trajectories may trump generational placement as predictors of religious behaviors and orientations.”12

Economists have applied profit motive – the idea that most decisions are inspired by the quest for financial gain – to this question.13 One research team concluded, based on survey data and church-membership records, that people in early adulthood focus more on making money than on religion, and that religiosity tends to decline during this peak earning phase. In their later years, this team posits, most people decide to build up the “religious capital” they believe will help them after death.

Another theory, drawn from psychology, is that people actually develop new values during life’s later decades, distinct from the values of midlife, leading to greater spirituality and satisfaction. 14 This theory of “gerotranscendence” is based on survey research showing that many older people report being less self-centered than they were previously, as well as feeling more connected to others and institutions beyond themselves.
The United States as a case study

While there is ample recent evidence to suggest that younger adults tend to be less religious than their elders, it would be a mistake to assume that this tendency always holds true. The global data analyzed in this report come from surveys conducted over the past decade, capturing only a brief snapshot of religious commitment and shedding little light on how peoples’ religious habits change over time.

This limitation is largely unavoidable because there is a dearth of longitudinal data on this topic in many countries. In the U.S., however, researchers have collected data on religious commitment for decades, and an in-depth look at the results suggests that younger Americans have not always been less religious than their elders, challenging the notion that older people are naturally more religious.

Gallup surveys dating back nearly 80 years show that in 1939, 39% of Americans ages 40 and older and 36% of U.S. adults younger than 40 claimed to have attended church in the last week. Both groups saw a rise in attendance in the postwar period – the early years of the Cold War – and by the late 1950s, the modest age gap had closed. Over the next 10 years, as the U.S. experienced rapid economic growth, the two age groups moved apart, and that gap has persisted through several decades. If anything, the gap has grown in recent years as attendance rates among young adults have fallen.

Looking at four age groups (rather than two) reveals even more clearly that religious service attendance and age have not always correlated perfectly in the United States. From the early 1940s through the 1960s, people in their 40s and 50s reported attending at least as frequently as those over 60. And adults in their 30s saw a spike in attendance in the late 1950s, briefly matching or exceeding the other groups. By the mid-1970s, the age groups had split into the pattern seen today: Older adults are more religiously committed than younger adults.

Although these data do not rule out life cycle effects, they show that Americans of all ages experienced a boom in religious attendance in the post-World War II years, and younger Americans in the late 1950s reported attending at least as often as their elders. More recently, younger Americans have reported less frequent religious service attendance than older adults.

Religious trends in the United States may be different from those in the rest of the world. Like many of their peer nations, Americans enjoy a high standard of living, high rates of literacy and education, a developed economy, and a representative democracy. However, compared with other similarly developed countries, the U.S. has relatively high levels of economic inequality, infant mortality and imprisonment rates.15 Americans also are more religious by most measures than others in similarly developed economies.