Trust Magazine

Return on Investment

Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life

In this Issue:

  • Winter 2023
  • A Global Deal to End Harmful Fisheries Subsidies
  • Reaching New Horizons
  • What's the Best Response in A Mental Health Crisis?
  • Service to Democracy for 75 Years and Counting
  • Center City Philadelphia
  • Noteworthy
  • What Is the Future of Religion in America?
  • Black Families Fall Further Behind on Homeownership
  • The Dreadful Toll of Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions
  • Initiative Seeks to Help Companies Solve Plastic Pollution
  • Return on Investment
  • More Women In The College-Educated Labor Force
  • View All Other Issues
Return on Investment

Improving Public Policy

A driver charges his electric vehicle at a California charging station in August 2022.
Frederic J. Brown AFP via Getty Images

Project studies how electric vehicles may affect gas tax revenue

In October, Pew’s state fiscal health project published an analysis that examined how the increased adoption of electric vehicles may affect state gas tax revenue—and, as a result, state transportation budgets. Fuel taxes provide nearly 40% of the revenue that the states in aggregate direct to their transportation funds—special accounts for transportation spending. The analysis highlighted the importance of states conducting long-range projections on gas tax revenue and of using these forecasts in the context of broader revenue and spending projections. 

New critical international fishing guidance

In September, the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization Committee on Fisheries adopted new global voluntary guidelines to regulate transshipment. Transshipment—the transfer of fish or other marine wildlife between a fishing vessel and carrier vessel at sea or port—allows vessels to keep fishing as their catch makes it back to port. But this activity often takes place on the high seas and outside the reach of authorities, creating a loophole for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Endorsement of the new guidelines—plus strengthened transshipment measures that are now in place for international fisheries in the Atlantic, eastern Pacific, and Indian oceans—is a culmination of a multiyear effort by Pew’s international fisheries project.

Pew readies states for rollout of 988 behavioral health crisis line

The 988 phone number, developed to help people at risk of suicide or grappling with other mental health and substance use emergencies to access care safely and quickly, went live over the summer. To help inform the public about the new number, Pew’s mental health and justice partnerships project created fact sheets that focus on improving call centers’ ability to identify and navigate behavioral health crises; modifying responses to those calls in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of people in crisis, as well as the first responders, bystanders, and others involved in the emergency; and connecting people in distress to mental health and substance use treatment and related services when needed. The project also published an analysis that details key considerations for state and local leaders as they plan for and implement 988.

Study quantifies risks and costs of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing to children

In May, Pew’s antibiotic resistance project, together with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, published new research, “Association of Inappropriate Outpatient Pediatric Antibiotic Prescriptions With Adverse Drug Events and Health Care Expenditures,” in JAMA Network Open, a monthly open access medical journal by the American Medical Association. Based on 2.8 million privately insured children treated for severe infections in outpatient facilities, the study revealed that inappropriate antibiotic prescribing increased the risk of life-threatening infections as much as eightfold and generated at least $74 million in excess national health care costs. This work supports the project’s goal of increasing antibiotic stewardship efforts in outpatient health care settings and reducing inappropriate prescribing for acute respiratory conditions in the United States by 40%.

Martin Kuklik Shutterstock

Colombia announces project finance for permanence conservation initiative

In June, the government of Colombia signed a joint declaration with WWF and a broader coalition of partners, including Pew, to launch Heritage Colombia (Herencia Colombia), a new project finance for permanence (PFP) initiative. The project is supported by Enduring Earth, a collaboration of The Nature Conservancy, Pew, WWF, and ZOMALAB to accelerate conservation worldwide to help address the climate and biodiversity crises and support community economic development. The agreement secures US$245 million of public and private financing to permanently protect and manage more than 79 million acres of the country’s iconic landscapes, including the Amazon and Central Andes, and opens the door to new and expanded marine protected areas in the Caribbean and Pacific. The initiative will enable Colombia to achieve its goal to protect 30% of its oceans by 2030.

A mother kangaroo stands beside her joey in a clearing.
Guahim Getty Images

Queensland government announces historic investment in park expansion  

In June, the Queensland, Australia, state government announced an AU$262.5 million (US$176.8 million) investment toward expanding its national park network. This funding—the single-largest conservation investment in the state’s history—has the potential to add 2.4 million acres of protected areas in Queensland, Australia’s most biodiverse state and home to more than 1,000 threatened species, including the iconic koala. Since 2018, Pew has worked with local partners in Queensland through the Our Living Outback alliance to increase funding for land acquisition and other conservation measures to protect the state’s most ecologically rich habitat and the species that rely on it. 

Invigorating Civic Life

Pew Fund awards $4.25 million to four local nonprofits

In July, the Pew Fund for Health and Human Services in Philadelphia awarded $4.25 million to four nonprofit organizations working to close opportunity gaps and address the growing impact of violence on local residents. The awards include a grant to University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative to help create paths to economic mobility for nearly 2,500 residents throughout the city. Three additional grants will aid Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Drexel University, and Temple University Hospital in coordinating and expanding their hospital-based support programs for the growing number of adults and children who have experienced community violence.

Pew fellow Roberto Lugo’s mural “The Talented Mr. Trotter: You Can Be Anything,” installed on The Clay Studio’s building in Philadelphia.
Steve Weinik City of Philadelphia

Pew Center for Arts & Heritage announces 2022 grantees

In September, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage announced its 2022 grants and fellowships in support of cultural events and artistic work that will enliven and enrich the Philadelphia region and represent diverse identities, personal experiences, and historical narratives. The 42 awards total $9.5 million: $7.2 million in project funding, $1.4 million provided as unrestricted general operating support for the 30 local organizations receiving project grants, and $900,000 going to 12 Philadelphia-area artists as Pew fellowships. Many of the newly funded projects spotlight artists and communities of color, engaging with topics such as the rich history of social dance within Philadelphia’s Black communities, the contributions of Japanese artists working in the U.S. in the mid-20th century, and the cultural traditions and contemporary practices of Mexican artists and migrants. Several projects will bring creative work to public spaces and nontraditional venues such as a public park, a community recreation center, and a botanical garden, while others will investigate historical archives to illuminate lesser-known stories.

Informing the Public

U.S. teens spend considerable time on social media, study shows

Amid ongoing societal discussion about the effects of social media and technology on teenagers, the Pew Research Center published a report examining which social media platforms American teens use most and how much time they spend on social media. It found that nearly half of teens say they are online almost constantly (46%)—roughly double the share saying that in 2014-15 (24%). TikTok has established itself as one of the top online platforms for U.S. teens, with 67% of teens saying they have ever used the platform, including 16% who say they use the platform almost constantly. Meanwhile, the share of teens who say they use Facebook has declined significantly.

What it means to be Asian in America

The Pew Research Center released a signature qualitative research package in August about the experiences and perspectives of Asian Americans. The centerpiece was a data essay, “What It Means to Be Asian in America,” presenting the Center’s largest qualitative focus group analysis to date, based on 66 focus groups organized into 18 distinct Asian ethnic origin groups and held in 18 languages. Despite diverse experiences, backgrounds, and origins, some common themes emerged: Participants highlighted how the pan-ethnic “Asian” label represented only one part of how they think of themselves, noted the disconnect between how they see themselves and how others view them, and discussed the multiple ways in which they express pride in their cultural and ethnic backgrounds while also feeling at home in America, celebrating and blending their unique cultural traditions and practices with those of other Americans. The research package also included a documentary, extended video clips, and an interactive quote sorter

More Women In The College-Educated Labor Force Initiative Seeks to Help Companies Solve Plastic Pollution

Spotlight on Mental Health


Building Healthy Communities: Mental Health in America

Quick View

Access to mental health care is a rising concern in communities throughout the country—especially for groups already experiencing challenges connecting with primary care providers. In this episode, Mimi Narayan from Pew’s Health Impact Project outlines the factors that contribute to health disparities and how to make care more equitable.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

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.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.