Monitoring the Future: a continuous study of American youth

The Monitoring the Future (MTF) project, begun in 1975, has many purposes. Among them is to study changes in the beliefs, attitudes, and behavior of young people in the United States. In recent years, the U.S. has experienced tremendous changes in public opinion toward such diverse issues as government and politics, alcohol and other drug use, gender roles, and protection of the environment. Much of our current upheaval in attitudes is especially concentrated, and often first seen, in today’s youth. This study focuses on youth because of their significant involvement in today’s social changes and, most important, because youth in a very literal sense will constitute our future society. The results of the study are useful to policymakers at all levels of government, for example, to monitor progress toward national health goals. Study results are also used to monitor trends in substance use and abuse among adolescents and young adults and are used routinely in the White House Strategy on Drug Abuse. (