Pew Analysis Offers New Way of Looking at Philadelphians

Report classifies residents based on attitudes toward the city, not demographics

Pew Analysis Offers New Way of Looking at Philadelphians

PHILADELPHIA—The Pew Charitable Trusts today released an analysis of Philadelphians that classifies residents based on how they feel about the city rather than where they show up in demographic categories.

The brief, “A New Way of Looking at Philadelphians: Beyond Income, Neighborhood, and Race,” builds on Pew’s previous research and polling about Philadelphia and sorts the city’s adult residents into four groups based on a survey conducted this year. The survey’s questions covered topics such as the city’s current direction, future, neighborhoods, police, and government.

“Our goal for this analysis was to go beyond demographics and identify some of the key attitudes that both unite and differentiate Philadelphians,” said Larry Eichel, director of Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative.

The groups are:

  • Dissatisfied Citizens: Representing 30 percent of the population, these individuals are unhappy with their neighborhoods, disenchanted with city government, and not optimistic about Philadelphia’s prospects. Many are economically disadvantaged. Most have lived in Philadelphia their entire lives but would move out if they could.
  • Die-hard Loyalists: Accounting for 25 percent of residents, these deeply committed individuals see a bright future for Philadelphia and want to be part of it. They feel strong ties to their neighbors and think more should be done to preserve city neighborhoods and support longtime residents. Many are lifelong Philadelphians.
  • Uncommitted Skeptics: Also representing 25 percent of residents, these Philadelphians have little attachment to the city and, as a group, are ambivalent about its direction. They have doubts about the effectiveness and true goals of local institutions, including the business community, the police department, and local government generally. 
  • Enthusiastic Urbanists: The smallest group (19 percent of the population), these residents are excited about the city and its future. Many are relative newcomers who view Center City as vital to Philadelphia’s well-being and think that the city must attract more residents if it is to thrive.

While divided on a number of key questions, including whether they want their future to be in Philadelphia, members of the four groups were in broad agreement on several topics. All said that K-12 education, jobs, and public safety are the three biggest issues facing the city and that immigrants bring new vitality to Philadelphia neighborhoods.

“Pew’s research revealed that there is common ground among residents,” Eichel said. “Regardless of whether you are an Enthusiastic Urbanist or an Uncommitted Skeptic, you care about some of the same central policy issues facing the city.”

For more information on the defining characteristics of the four groups and the methodology used to create them, download the complete brief at An online quiz is also available for Philadelphians to see in which category they belong.


The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative provides timely, impartial research and analysis on key issues facing Philadelphia for the benefit of the city’s residents and leaders. Learn more at