Trends shaping our world

istanbul_sultan_ahmet_mosque_mosque_237481Every year, the Pew Research Centre in the United States reviews its research, selecting the most memorable facts which illustrate important trends shaping our world.
Topics range from the specific subjects of video gaming and family caregivers to broader areas like political attitudes, global climate change and religious affiliation. Here are some of the 15 most striking trends the Centre discovered in 2015:

Islam will grow faster than any other major religion in the world over the next four decades, according to he Centre’s religious projections.

  • The number of Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2010 and 2050, and, in the second half of this century, will likely surpass Christians as the world’s largest religious group. Driving these changes are simple demographics: Muslims have more children than members of other religions, and they’re also relatively younger.
  • People in countries with significant Muslim populations express overwhelmingly negative views of ISISaccording to our spring survey in 11 countries. Recent attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have once again brought terrorism and Islamic extremism to the forefront of international relations. Majorities in most of the 11 countries express unfavorable views of ISIS, but the exception is Pakistan, where a majority offer no opinion.
  • Just 19% of Americans say they can trust the federal government always or most of the time. That’s among the lowest levels in over 50 years. The long-term erosion of public trust is mirrored by a steep decline in the belief that the government is run for the benefit of all Americans.
  • For news about politics and government, social media may be for the Millennial generation (18-34 year olds) what local TV is for the Baby Boomer generation. Six-in-ten (61%) online Millennials say they get political news on Facebook in a given week, a much larger percentage than any other source for news. That’s a stark contrast to internet-using Baby Boomers, for whom local TV tops the list. These trends also reflect a major shift taking place in the news world, as social networking sites increasingly become an integral part of Americans’ news experience.
  • Christians are declining as a share of the U.S. population, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing. While the U.S. remains home to more Christians than any other country, the percentage of Americans identifying as Christian dropped from 78% in 2007 to 71% in 2014. By contrast, religious “nones,” driven in large part by Millennials, have surged seven percentage points in that time span to make up 23% of U.S. adults last year.
  • Nearly 59 million immigrants have arrived in the U.S. in the past fifty years, after the passage of a landmark 1965 bill that rewrote U.S. immigration policy. Today, a near-record 14% of the country’s population is foreign-borncompared with just 5% in 1965, and that share is expected to rise to 18% by 2065. New settlers today also look very different from the predominately European immigrants of the 19th and 20th centuries: Among immigrants who have arrived since 1965, half (51%) are from Latin America and one-quarter are from Asia.
  • Multiracial Americans account for 6.9% of adults, and they are growing at a rate three times as fast as the population as a whole. For much of the nation’s history, America has discussed race in the singular form. But with the rise of interracial couples, combined with a more accepting society, the language of race is changing. More than half of multiracial Americans are proud of their background and feel more open to other cultures. But a majority (55%) also say they have been subjected to slurs or jokes because of their racial background.
  • A global median of 54% consider climate change a very serious problem, according to our survey of 40 nations. But there are regional differences on views of climate change, with people from Latin America and Africa expressing more concern than others. Before delegates from 195 nations approved a landmark climate accordin Paris this year to limit carbon emissions, our spring survey found a median of 78% supporting such a deal.
  • Scientists and the American public are often far apart when it comes to views about science-related issues. Members of the science community, for example, are much more likely to say genetically modified foods and foods grown with pesticides are safe to eat, and that climate change is mostly due to human activity, according to our recent survey of U.S.-based members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.