Trust Magazine

To Strengthen Democracy and Create a Better World

Notes from the president

In this Issue:

  • Summer 2023
  • A Global Agreement to Save The High Seas
  • A Marquee Talent
  • For Nearly Two Decades, Just the Facts
  • Noteworthy
  • Mind the Gender Pay Gap
  • How Americans View Their Jobs
  • Humility Paves the Way for Flood Resilience Policies
  • Meeting the Opioid Crisis–Now What?
  • Questions That Help Save Lives
  • Return on Investment
  • Staff Raise Their Hands to Volunteer
  • The Asian American Experience
  • To Strengthen Democracy and Create a Better World
  • What Inspires You?
  • View All Other Issues
To Strengthen Democracy and Create a Better World

In 1958, 10 years after the founding of The Pew Charitable Trusts, about 75% of Americans thought the federal government would do the right thing most of the time. But since then, that number has steadily declined. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, today just 2 in 10 people trust the government in Washington—a sentiment that has changed little in the past 15 years. And a Center survey last year found that only 8% of adults believe the government is responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans. This declining trust in government could spell trouble for democracy. But it doesn’t have to.

Rebuilding trust—and strengthening democracy—begins with gathering facts that can provide a common language for people to discuss their differences, allowing a diversity of voices and contrary viewpoints to be heard and respected. Few organizations deliver that sort of information better than the Pew Research Center. For almost 20 years, the Center has helped people better understand themselves and one another—an especially important undertaking in the pluralist United States. Its recent survey of Asian Americans, for example—the most extensive of its kind—broke stereotypes and revealed key nuances. It showed that Asian Americans are not a monolith but a mosaic.

“Asian adults see more cultural differences than commonalities across their group,” the survey found, with only 9% of Asians living in the U.S. agreeing that they share a common culture. The survey also found that this diverse group shares many values that contribute to a thriving democracy, agreeing with much of the general U.S. population on the traits that make one “truly American.” Nearly all Asian adults (94%) and U.S. adults (91%) say this includes accepting people of diverse racial and religious backgrounds, with similar percentages in both groups saying this also includes believing in individual freedoms and respecting U.S. political institutions and laws.

"Rebuilding trust—and strengthening democracy—begins with gathering facts that can provide a common language for people to discuss their differences, allowing a diversity of voices and contrary viewpoints to be heard and respected."

The public’s declining views of democracy are understandable given the overwhelming number of challenges that the citizens of the world face today. But there are solutions. Many U.S. states and cities are realizing, for example, that they need stronger civic infrastructure—more streamlined health care, a more accessible court system, expanded broadband for everyone—that can take us on the journey to a better life. That’s why Pew is encouraging regulatory changes that would help patients with substance use disorders continue receiving access to lifesaving medications via telehealth, as they were temporarily allowed to do during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic—giving them more time to work and live their lives instead of spending hours each day at in-person clinics. And it’s why we’re also looking for ways to reduce the rise in suicides. Half of all people who take their lives have contact with the health care system in the month before their death. So we’re supporting a program that makes suicide screening part of the questions patients are asked when they’re at the doctor’s office or in a hospital—and connects those who may be thinking of harming themselves to the care they need. As you’ll read in this issue of Trust, these forward-looking steps can help people and communities flourish.

On a global scale, there are no larger challenges than biodiversity loss and climate change, which affect both public health and the health of our planet. That’s why the United Nations has made those issues a priority. We’ve seen some great success this year, with the 196 member countries of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity adopting the crucial goal of protecting 30% of the Earth’s land, freshwater, and ocean by 2030.

Pew played a role in achieving that milestone—and also contributed to the latest success story for the environment: A U.N. treaty adopted in June that will conserve the high seas. This vast swath of waters accounts for two-thirds of the ocean and plays an essential role in protecting species and absorbing carbon.

The treaty can’t go into effect until it’s ratified by at least 60 countries. So, we still have a lot of work in front of us. But as we celebrate 75 years of Pew’s nonpartisan research and public service, we’re looking ahead to many more years of working to protect our planet, reinforce our civic infrastructure, and strengthen democracy—three pillars of progress that will help people lead safer, healthier, and more prosperous lives.

Staff Raise Their Hands to Volunteer

National Homeownership Month

Trust Magazine

Out of Reach

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Trust Magazine

The opioid crisis affects thousands of Americans in big cities and small towns

A patient displays his Suboxone prescription following his appointment at the Substance Use Disorders Bridge Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on April 27, 2018.
A patient displays his Suboxone prescription following his appointment at the Substance Use Disorders Bridge Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on April 27, 2018.
Report

Barriers Limit Medication Access for OUD in Philadelphia

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Report

Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a public health crisis in Philadelphia. In 2020, the most recent year for which full data is available, there were 1,214 unintentional drug deaths in the city, the second-highest total on record and more than three times as many as a decade earlier.

States of Innovation From 'After the Fact'
States of Innovation From 'After the Fact'

States of Innovation From 'After the Fact'

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The latest season of Pew’s “After the Fact” podcast looks at the innovative solutions some states are developing to meet long-standing problems. From making small loans more affordable for consumers, to improving community flood preparedness, to designing corridors for wildlife to migrate safely across high-traffic roads—protecting animals and drivers—state leaders are working together to tackle big challenges.

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Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

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How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.