Return On Investment
Pew improves policy, informs the public, and invigorates civic life
The Pew Charitable Trusts applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life, as these recent accomplishments illustrate.
Improving Public Policy
Canada announces sixfold increase in funding for Indigenous-led conservation
In August, Canada made a historic investment of $340 million Canadian dollars ($265 million) over five years in Indigenous-led conservation and stewardship initiatives, including CA$173 million for Indigenous Guardians programs and CA$164 million for the establishment of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, as part of Canada’s 2021 CA$2.3 billion budget commitment to nature conservation. The new funding will help dozens of Guardians programs and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas that are in development thanks in part to the efforts of Pew’s international boreal conservation campaign and its many partners. These funds represent a sixfold increase over the government’s first investments in these initiatives in 2017 and 2018.
Public pension funds are in strong fiscal shape
The Pew public sector retirement systems project’s annual state pension funding gap issue brief, released in September, estimates that state retirement systems are now more than 80% funded for the first time since 2008. The improvement is particularly significant because it occurred during a recession in which many analysts predicted that revenue losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic would increase retirement fund shortfalls. Instead, Pew found increases fueled by market investment returns and substantially higher contributions from taxpayers and public employees to pension funds.
Pew makes recommendations on income-driven repayment policy for student loans
In September, Pew’s project on student borrower success released recommendations for the U.S. Department of Education’s negotiated rulemaking process, a series of meetings over three months at which higher education stakeholders meet and try to reach consensus on upcoming student loan regulations. Pew also provided data and calculations to help negotiators understand how changes to the formula for income-driven repayment—plans that link the amount borrowers must repay monthly to their current income—would alter repayment requirements and could affect borrower outcomes.
Pew-backed flood insurance approach implemented by FEMA
In October, the Federal Emergency Management Agency implemented the first phase of Risk Rating 2.0, a new flood insurance rating approach that marks the most significant change to the National Flood Insurance Program’s rating system in 50 years. The new methodology will use catastrophic modeling—in which computer-generated calculations estimate losses that could be sustained in a hurricane or other natural disaster—in addition to other flood and structural data to make rates fairer, more transparent, and more closely aligned with actual flood risk. The new approach also ensures that lower-risk properties will pay less and that higher-risk properties will pay more. Pew provided critical support for the timely implementation of Risk Rating 2.0, including testifying before Congress, developing an interactive mapping tool featured on FEMA’s website, securing dozens of media hits, and leading stakeholder support letters.
Ocean warming and the study of North Atlantic right whales
In September, researchers supported by the Lenfest Ocean Program briefed more than 20 U.S. and Canadian officials on how, starting in 2010, a change in ocean conditions pushed endangered North Atlantic right whales’ food source farther north. This brought the whales into new habitats in Canada that lacked key protections, exposing the whales to more threats from fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes. The findings, published in Oceanography, came shortly after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a new rule to protect the whales in the U.S. by seeking to reduce their entanglement in lobster and crab gear. Pew and its partners’ multiyear campaign to push for this regulation—the first in seven years—resulted in stronger conservation measures.
Australia’s Northern Territory bans seabed mining
In August, the government of Australia’s Northern Territory formalized a ban on seabed mining. Pew has worked for many years with the Northern Territory community, Traditional Owners, environmental groups, commercial and recreational fishers, tourism operators, and scientists to secure a ban on seabed mining, an emerging and highly destructive threat to the Northern Australian coasts. This action will provide enduring protection for the Northern Territory coasts and send a strong message that seabed mining presents an unacceptable risk to Australia’s unique coastal waters, culture, and lifestyle.
Invigorating Civic Life
Pew Center for Arts & Heritage-supported projects and fellows receive significant recognition
Projects and fellows supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage have recently received notable attention. The Library Company of Philadelphia, a research library focused on American history, received a 2021 Leadership in History Award from the American Association for State and Local History for its graphic novel and exhibition, “Ghost River: The Fall and Rise of the Conestoga.” The Center-supported, multisite exhibition “Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births” has been featured by prominent media outlets, including extensive articles in The New York Times and The Guardian. Also, the pottery of Roberto Lugo, a 2019 Center fellow, was recently featured in a New York Times special section on fine arts and museums. And Mary Lattimore, a 2014 Center fellow, was featured in The New York Times in October, where she gave credit to her fellowship and how much it meant to her work.
Informing the Public
Increased partisan divides in trust in media
A Pew Research Center analysis published in August found that the percentage of Republicans with at least some trust in national news organizations has halved, from 70% in 2016 to 35% in 2021. Nearly 8 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78%) say they have “a lot” or “some” trust in the information that comes from national news organizations. The 43-percentage-point partisan gap is the largest of any time that this question has been asked since 2016. It widens further—to 53 percentage points—between liberal Democrats (83%) and conservative Republicans (30%).
More working-age Americans don’t have spouses or partners
An October Pew Research Center report analyzing economic and demographic characteristics of working-age Americans who are single and those married or living with an unmarried partner found that 38% of adults ages 25-54 were unpartnered (neither married nor living with a partner), up from 29% in 1990. Men are more likely than women to be unpartnered, which wasn’t the case 30 years ago. The growth in the single population is driven mainly by the decline in marriage among adults who are of prime working age. At the same time, the share of cohabiting adults has risen, but not enough to offset the drop in marriage. Although the unpartnered population includes some adults who were previously married, all the growth in the unpartnered population since 1990 has come from a rise in the number of people who have never been married.
Most Americans—but fewer than in March—say it is important to prosecute the Capitol rioters
A September Pew Research Center report shows that most Americans continue to say it is important to find and prosecute those who broke into and rioted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. However, since March, that share of the public has declined from 87% to 78%, with the change coming almost entirely among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Moreover, only about a quarter of Republicans (27%) view the prosecution of the rioters as very important; six months ago, half said this was very important. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, only modest changes in opinions were found: In September, 95% said it is important, including 80% who saw it as very important.
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