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).


  • Holder: Justice Reinvestment Policies Improve Public Safety

    Aug 13, 2013 - In an Aug. 12 speech to the American Bar Association, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a series of policy changes aimed at slowing the growth of the federal prison system. He acknowledged the leading role that states have played in paving the way for more effective criminal justice strategies.

  • The State Role in Local Government Financial Distress

    Jul 22, 2013 - The distressed condition of many local governments following the Great Recession has prompted policymakers to ask whether state governments should assist troubled localities and, if so, how. “The State Role in Local Government Financial Distress” examines the range of state involvement in local government finances. Pew’s report analyzes state programs, profiling seven; explores various intervention practices; identifies challenges; and elaborates on key policy guidelines.

  • July Fourth, By the Numbers

    Jul 03, 2013 - View Stateline's infographic, "Oh Say, Can You Count," a fourth of July special.

  • Strategies to Improve the Housing Market

    Jan 17, 2013 - Strategies to Improve the Housing Market is a summation of recommendations from experts representing the mortgage origination, servicing and insurance industries, investors, industry associations, federal agencies and regulators, and nonprofits. The key strategies outlined in the paper focus on practical solutions that can be implemented quickly and rehabilitate the housing market to get it on a sustainable path going forward.

  • Pew Center on the States Brochure

    Mar 01, 2007 - The Pew Center on the States advances effective policy approaches to critical issues facing states.

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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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