Informing the Public

  • July 28, 2017

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.

Trust Magazine Summer 2017

Though response rates have plateaued after years of decline, telephone surveys can provide accurate indications of political attitudes. (© Amanda Tipton / Getty Images)

What low response rates mean for telephone surveys

U.S. telephone survey response rates have plateaued in the past four years, after decades of consistent decline, according to a methodology report released in March by the Pew Research Center. The data also show that the bias introduced into survey data by current levels of participation is limited in scope. Even at low response rates, the report found, telephone surveys that include interviews via landlines and cellphones, and that are adjusted to match the demographic profile of the U.S., can produce accurate estimates for political attitudes. The center sought to test the accuracy and reliability of telephone polling by examining the impact of telephone surveys’ declining response rates, including whether nonresponse bias has changed since 2012.

Trust Magazine Summer 2017

Participants walk in a Palm Sunday procession carrying hand-woven palms made from a variety of flowers and plants—part of the 2017 Holy Week celebration in Krakow, Poland. (© Beata Zawrzel / NurPhoto / Getty Images)

Religious belief in Central and Eastern Europe part of national identity

Religion has reasserted itself as an important part of individual and national identity in many of the Central and Eastern European countries where communist regimes once repressed religious worship and promoted atheism, according to a report published by the Pew Research Center in May. On the day of the report’s release, the center’s director of religion research, Alan Cooperman, and associate director of research, Neha Sahgal, presented the findings at an event in Moscow.

Report compares trends in U.S. and European middle classes

The middle-class share of the adult population fell in seven Western European countries, mirroring the long-term shrinking of the middle class in the United States, according to a Pew Research Center report released in April, which compared middle-class trends in the U.S. with those in 11 Western European countries. The middle classes expanded in France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom between 1991 and 2010 but shrank in Germany, Italy, and Spain. In part, the shift out of the middle class is a sign of economic progress, as more people move into the upper-income tier in countries with a shrinking middle class.

Public trust in government remains near historic low; partisan attitudes shift

More Republicans express trust in government today than they did prior to the election, while views among Democrats have moved in the opposite direction, according to a May report by the Pew Research Center on Americans’ trust in government and confidence in the future of the country. For the first time since George W. Bush’s presidency, Republicans are more likely than Democrats (28 percent to 15 percent) to say they can trust the federal government to do the right thing “just about always” or “most of the time.” Additionally, the share of Democrats expressing trust in government is among the lowest for members of the party in nearly six decades. Similar percentages of Trump (7 percent) and Clinton (8 percent) voters said Facebook was their main source of news about the campaign.