Americans today live very different lives than previous generations. Society has undergone a rapid transformation due to advances in communications technology, demographic changes, and political realignment. American family, community, and work life have each experienced evolution over the past few decades. How Americans are raised and how they think about their racial and ethnic and gender identities continue to evolve. Shifting patterns of religious affiliation and civic involvement are reshaping Americans’ communities. Meanwhile, rising religious and racial and ethnic diversity in the US has caused us to reevaluate traditional notions of American identity.  

The Survey Center on American Life, a project of the American Enterprise Institute, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to understanding the way cultural, political, and technological changes are shaping the lives of ordinary Americans. The Center conducts original survey research focusing on critical issues in American public and private life that are not often featured in public polling. We adhere to the highest standards in survey methodology and research practices, pursuing rigorous transparency in our approach to this work. The Center does not take political positions or advocate for particular policies.

We work closely with journalists, academics, nonprofit leaders, and others who are committed to using data and research to tell the complex and sometimes contradictory stories of American life. And to this end, we employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative research approaches to help highlight the unique perspectives and voices among the public.

Our goal is to produce impartial research and offer nuanced analysis to inform honest public debate, and encourage more thoughtful dialogue and constructive interactions among political leaders. We will challenge conventional wisdom about what Americans care about, the problems they face, and what we think of each other. We aim to move beyond national policy debates by offering a more comprehensive and contextual picture of the way Americans live, work, and socialize. In doing so, we hope to more thoroughly interrogate the origins of some of the enduring social and economic challenges facing the American public and better understand what makes Americans and American society unique.  

Recent Commentary

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 24: People sit and have a picnic in Washington Square Park during a heat wave on July 24, 2022 in New York City. The five boroughs of New York City are under a heat advisory until 8 PM on July 24th according to the US National Weather Service. Much of the East Coast is experiencing higher than usual temperatures as a heat wave moves through the area forcing residents into parks, pools and beaches to escape the heat. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Daniel A. Cox
December 20, 2022

Why Americans are Spending Less Time with Friends — And What to do About it

A full work week. Hours on housework, yard work, time spent with your kids or partner. Then there’s all the time we spend online. Where is the time for friends? Today, On Point: Declining time with friends, increasing loneliness. We hear what to do about Americans’ lost connections.

Four cartoon black hanging lamps on a blue background, one light bulb is not working.

Daniel A. Cox, Brent Orrell
December 16, 2022

Women are More Likely to Make Friends at Work than Men. Here’s Why that Matters

Research shows that the more friends we have, the less likely we are to be depressed or anxious, and work friendships boost productivity and worker retention

At Orange Bowl Stadium, immigrants demonstrate their patriotism during what could be the largest naturalization ceremony in American history. c. 1984 (GettyImages).

Brent Orrell
November 18, 2022

How Hispanic Americans Think About Work and Identity

If we want to understand the evolving role of Hispanic Americans in American culture and politics, one useful on-ramp is studying Hispanics in the workplace.

Daniel A. Cox, Brent Orrell, Jessie Wall
October 31, 2022

The New Workplace Gender Imbalance: Social Capital and Job Satisfaction

New data suggests gender and education are the difference between liking and loving your job. But there’s a price to be paid.