State Policy and Performance

State lawmakers today face enormous responsibility for the quality of Americans’ lives, from the air citizens breathe and the roads they use to the schools their children attend.  And a growing number of states are taking on broader issues that the federal government has not sufficiently addressed, such as setting limits on greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Pew's identifies and advances effective policy approaches to central issues facing states.  The center is part of Pew’s broader effort to study and promote nonpartisan policy solutions for pressing and emerging problems affecting Americans.

By researching emerging topics and developing 50-state comparisons, the center identifies the innovative approaches states employ to tackle today’s complex problems.  When the facts are clear, we advocate for data-driven, pragmatic solutions.  Pew targets policy areas in which we can make a significant difference. The center currently has major initiatives focusing on early education, sentencing and corrections, and the electoral process. Its government performance project measures and grades states on how efficiently and effectively they operate.  The center also partners with other Pew projects addressing issues such as climate change, the foreclosure crisis and its impact on families' financial security, and states’ pandemic flu preparedness.


Two of 2008's landmark reports include: Public Safety Performance Project report on prison population, One in 100, (February 28, 2008) and Government Performance Project's Grading the States 2008 (March 3, 2008).

  • Children's Dental Health

    Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease, affecting nearly 60 percent of children—many of whom are low-income kids who lack access to adequate dental health care. We work to advance policies that improve kids’ oral health, allowing them to maintain healthy mouths, get the restorative care they need, and come to school ready and able to learn.
  • Clean Energy Economy

    The emerging clean energy economy is creating well-paying jobs in every state for people of all skill levels and educational backgrounds.  This emerging sector is poised to expand significantly, driven by increasing consumer demand, venture capital infusions, and federal and state policy reforms.

  • Economic Competitiveness

    Pew Center on the States is examining how best to help states develop an economic competitiveness agenda.
  • Election Initiatives

    The Pew Center on the States supports policies, practices and technologies that help achieve the highest standards of accuracy, cost-effectiveness, efficiency and security of elections in the U.S.
  • Fiscal Federalism Initiative

    Federal and state policy makers require solid data and analysis to engage in a meaningful debate and truly understand how their tax and spending policies affect other levels of government.
  • Foster Care

    From 2003 to 2009, Pew worked with partners at the local, state and national level to ensure more of these children were living with safe, permanent families.
  • Global Warming

    In partnership with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, the Pew Center on the States report about the science and impact of climate change, the technological solutions to the issue and related actions currently taking place.
  • Government Performance Project

    The Government Performance Project issues a 50-state report card measuring how states perform in key areas and helps officials who want to deliver better government services for taxpayers at less cost.
  • Home Visiting

    Pew’s Home Visiting campaign partners with policy-makers and advocates to promote smart state investments in quality, home-based programs for new and expectant families.
  • Pensions and Retiree Benefits

    For many Americans, post-retirement benefits—principally pensions and health care—for state government employees is an obscure topic. But because of how they can affect state budgets, these benefits have become an issue of critical importance.
  • Sentencing and Corrections

    The Public Safety Performance Project offers research and policy solutions to states seeking ways to keep the public safe while reducing what they spend on corrections.
  • State Budget Choices

    The Pew Center on the States, in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is providing states with powerful new tools to assess the long-term costs and benefits of their budget choices and better target funds to programs that provide the greatest returns to citizens.
  • State News and Analysis provides timely news coverage and research material on state policy innovations and trends.
  • State Health Care Spending Project

    The States Health Care Spending Project is a joint initiative of the Pew Center on the States and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It helps state and federal policy makers better understand how much states spend on health care, what is driving up spending, and how states can contain costs while improving health outcomes.

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Managing Director Susan K. Urahn highlights the work of the Pew Center on the States in this year's Pew Prospectus. Read More  


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