Research by the institute focuses on population issues, the economy, governance and public finance. The PPIC also conducts polls of public opinion on issues related to California public policy. It disseminates its research to state, local, and federal officials, as well as non-profit and private sectors leaders, public media, and the general public. It has organized conferences to focus on significant policy issues, such as the effects of California ballot propositions.
The institute has a visiting fellows program for scholars and a summer intern program for graduate students.