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University of Michigan National Poverty Center

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Growing wealth gaps in education

Individual Author: 
Pfeffer, Fabian

Prior research on trends in educational inequality has focused chiefly on changing gaps in educational attainment by family income or parental occupation. In contrast, this contribution provides the first assessment of trends in educational attainment by family wealth and suggests that we should be at least as much concerned about growing wealth gaps in education.

Testing strategies to increase saving and retention in Individual Development Account programs

Individual Author: 
Loibl, Cäzilia
Jones, Lauren
Haisley, Emily
Loewenstein, George

In a series of field experiments we test whether saving and retention rates in a federally funded, matched savings program for low-income families – the Individual Development Account (IDA) program – can be improved through the introduction of program features inspired by behavioral economics. We partnered with eight IDA programs across the U.S. who agreed to randomly assign participants to different experimental conditions.

Residential instability among the formerly incarcerated

Individual Author: 
Herbert, Claire
Morenoff, Jeffrey
Harding, David
Purvis, Liam

This research analyzes the predictors of homelessness and housing instability among the formerly incarcerated, drawing on data on thousands of individuals over a multi- year study of prisoner reentry in Michigan. Higher earnings and social support from parents and romantic partners are the most effective buffers against residential insecurity among former prisoners, while forced moves to correctional facilities are correlated with future residential instability.

Insurance churning

Individual Author: 
Austic, Elizabeth A.
Lawton, Emily
Riba, Melissa
Udow-Phillips, Marianne

The uninsured rate has declined substantially since provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) came into effect. Nevertheless, many individuals continue to experience instability in insurance coverage. Transitions between different insurance plans, as well as between insured and uninsured status, are often referred to as “insurance churning.” The causes of insurance churning vary. Changes in job status may result in loss of coverage or transition to a new insurance plan.

Public preschool in a more diverse America: Implications for next-generation evaluation research

Individual Author: 
Phillips, Deborah A.
Johnson, Anna D.
Weiland, Christina
Hutchison, Jane E.

The increasing diversity of young children enrolled in state pre-K and Head Start programs has prompted examination of varying impacts for identified subgroups of young children. We argue that questions of subgroup impacts and the processes that may account for them should be prioritized in future evaluations of these programs. Three subgroups at high risk of poor school performance provide the focus for our discussion: low-income children exposed to significant adversity, dual language learners, and children with special needs.

Can poverty in America be compared to conditions in the world's poorest countries?

Individual Author: 
Shaefer, H. Luke
Wu, Pinghui
Edin, Kathryn

Some contend that the American poor are affluent by international standards, and recent survey evidence finds that Americans have deeply divided views about the conditions faced by the poor in this country. To what extent can poverty in the United States be compared to conditions in the world’s poorest nations? Few analysts have examined this question beyond “instrumental” measures of poverty such as income and consumption that only indirectly capture well-being (Sen, 1999).

How well can we measure the well-being of the poor using food expenditure?

Individual Author: 
DeLeire, Thomas
Levy, Helen

How well does data on expenditure measure consumption? Because time is an important input into consumption that is typically not priced, spending data may not reflect true consumption. This problem may be particularly pronounced when using food spending because households' food consumption is a combination of home production (cooking at home) and market production (eating out).

The hardship experiences of the long-term unemployed in the Detroit metropolitan area after the Great Recession

Individual Author: 
Burgard, Sarah A.
Kalousova, Lucie
Danziger, Sheldon
Seefeldt, Kristin S.

The “Great Recession” that lasted from December 2007 through June 2009 was the most severe recession in recent decades. It lasted longer and resulted in more job losses than previous downturns, and an unusually large number of workers experienced long-term unemployment during this recession and the current slow recovery.

Poverty and economic polarization among America's minority and immigrant children

Individual Author: 
Lichter, Daniel T.
Qian, Zhenchao
Crowley, Martha L.

This paper examines recent changes in child poverty and income inequality in the 1990s among America's racial and immigrant minorities. The analyses are based on data from the 1990 and 2000 Public Use Microdata Samples of the U.S. decennial censuses. First, we document changes in child poverty rates between 1990 and 2000 for several different race and nativity groups. Our results indicate that increasing maternal employment during the 1990s rather than changing family structure accounted for a substantial share of the recent decline in child poverty rates.

Filling the poverty gap, then and now

Individual Author: 
Ziliak, James P.

The extent to which means-tested transfers, social insurance, and tax credits fill the gap between a family’s private resources and the poverty threshold is a periodic barometer of the social safety net. Using data on families from the Current Population Survey, I examine how the level and composition of before- and after-tax and after-transfer poverty gaps changed in response to changes in the policy and economic landscapes over the past two decades.