Quarantine Envy Got You Down? You’re Not Alone

Some groups may also be better than others at resisting envy. A recent Brookings Institution study showed that African-American and Hispanic people, especially those with low incomes, remained more optimistic than their white counterparts, despite facing physical and economic challenges from the pandemic.

Students Share their Experiences with the Graduate Policy Scholars Program

The Graduate Policy Scholars program provides students from all fields of study with impactful opportunities and training outside of their curriculum. Offered by the Clark-Fox Policy Institute in partnership with the Social Policy Institute, the yearlong program inspires students to pursue their unique interests. Nearly 120 students have completed the GPS program through its first […]

COVID-19 is widening the achievement gap

Parents shouldn’t have to choose between their children’s’ health and their academic success—between surviving and thriving. While the choice to attend school in-person or virtually may ultimately be up to parents in some cases, we should ensure that both options allow for academic success—especially for the most vulnerable learners.

The demographics of racial inequality in the United States

The numbers provided here only scratch the surface of the realities of racial inequality in the United States. As we begin to reimagine policing, dismantle systems of oppression, and reinvest resources into Black communities, we must use these numbers to help guide us.

Experts Warn of Potential Housing Crisis When Eviction Moratorium Lifted

In an interview with NBC 6, Michal Grinstein-Weiss discussed the housing crisis and looming evictions. She said, “We are already in a housing crisis in the U.S. and we were in one long before, and housing is really central for our people to recover from COVID-19.”

Pandemic boosts urgency of housing instability

The Columbian features SPI data in a story about housing hardship. “Nationally, a survey of low- to moderate-income households, conducted by the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, found that individuals are facing increased hardships such as evictions, delayed rent or mortgage payments, or unexpected utility payments and home repairs during the pandemic.”

It’s about to get a lot worse

SPI faculty director, Mat Despard, was interviewed in this Axios story about evictions: “We should be very concerned about what’s going to happen in August and beyond.”

Grinstein-Weiss and Ferris receive Washington University’s Outstanding Faculty & Staff Mentor Award

Michal Grinstein-Weiss, director of the Social Policy Institute, and Dan Ferris, director of policy and planning at the Social Policy Institute, were selected out of nearly 100 nominations as recipients of the 2020 Washington University Outstanding Faculty Mentor and Staff Mentor Awards. Awarded by the university’s Graduate Student Senate, students from all of WashU’s schools nominated […]

Event Replay: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Racial, Gender, and Generational Wealth Gaps

Below is a recording of the June 25, 2020 event, The Impact of COVID-19 on the Racial, Gender, and Generational Wealth Gaps, hosted by the Social Policy Institute at Washington University and the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. View Presentation Slides LEARN MORE: The Social Policy Institute […]

Medicaid expansion in Missouri – Needed now more than ever

On May 26, Governor Mike Parson announced the Medicaid Expansion Amendment would be moved up to the August 4, 2020 primary ballot. Despite the governor’s explanation of creating more time to budget the expansion, the move to an election with historically low voter turnout threatens the passage of the bill at a time when Medicaid […]

Gig work can be a lifeline, but it may be disappearing for those that need it

When you think of gig work—types of work where online apps and platforms allow workers to get paid for a range of services including ride-sharing, home repairs, art sales, and property rental—you might imagine a flexible job that enables anyone to earn income. If you have a reliable car and a smartphone, you can download […]

Material hardship among lower-income households: the role of liquid assets and place

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial financial support to low-income workers, yet around a quarter of EITC payments are estimated to be erroneous or fraudulent. Beginning in 2017, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 requires the Internal Revenue Service to spend additional time processing early EITC claims, delaying the issuance of tax refunds. Leveraging unique data, we investigate how delayed tax refunds affected the experience of hardship and unsecured debt among EITC recipients. We find that early filers experienced increased food insecurity relative to later filers after the implementation of the refund delay.

Event Replay: Jump-Starting America: How Investing in Technology & Science Revives Economies

The Social Policy Institute at Washington University and the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis invite you to a virtual conversation at 1 p.m. on June 4 with Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson, authors of Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream. Gruber […]

A message from Michal Grinstein-Weiss, director of SPI

Dear Friends, These are dark days in our nation’s history. At a time when we are trying to respond to a global health pandemic and its disproportionate health and economic toll on families of color, we are witnessing endless injustices and brutality against black and brown civilians. It is appalling and astounding. And the similarities […]

Housing Hardships Reach Unprecedented Heights during the COVID-19 Pandemic

SPI research, published on Brookings Institution: Groundbreaking data from a new large-scale, nationally-representative survey of low- and moderate-income (LMI) households administered by the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis in April of 2020 suggests that individuals have been facing increased housing hardship such as evictions, delayed rent or mortgage payments, and unexpected utility payments and home repairs during the pandemic.

SPI researchers win top awards for papers at ACCI Conference

Yingying Zeng, Mathieu Despard, and Sophia Fox-Dichter received the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) Paper Award for their paper “Workplace Financial Counseling: Credit Outcomes Among Lower-Paid, Entry-Level Workers”.

Stephen P. Roll, Blair D. Russell, Dana C. Perantie, and Michal Grinstein-Weiss received the JCA Best Article of the Year for their paper “Encouraging Tax‐Time Savings with a Low‐Touch, Large‐Scale Intervention: Evidence from the Refund to Savings Experiment”.

Employees are stressed about money. Financial wellness benefits can help.

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions and the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis have collaborated on a new Guide to Employee Financial Wellness to help employers identify the best program for their team. The guide combines four years of research and best practices collected from a wide range of employers using employee financial wellness programs.

Messaging matters when it comes to COVID-19 economic impact payments

The way policymakers and financial capability practitioners communicate about the CARES economic impact payments and other current or future payments may help guide households to use these benefits in the way best suited to their financial situation. This is important because while some households may use the CARES payments to pay down debt and other households may be fortunate enough to be able to save their payments, others will need these payments to simply make ends meet.

MBA student: “We don’t need a map to know who COVID-19 hits hardest”

Olin Business School Blog: “What makes the initial statistics about COVID-19 infections by zip code so alarming is that in the zip codes with the highest number of infections, people are actually less likely to get tested because of a lack of insurance or transportation, so the real number of cases might be even higher than is presently known.”

Inspired by father who survived Holocaust, Wash U professor aims to help north St. Louis residents

Michal Grinstein-Weiss understands how trauma can have a lasting effect. Her father, Slomo Grinstein, survived the Holocaust by spending years hiding in the woods of Poland while his family was killed at concentration camps. “He always struggled a little bit between jobs — and [the Holocaust] doesn’t leave anyone, and he was never able to fully recover from the trauma,” said Grinstein-Weiss, who grew up in Israel and moved to St. Louis in 1999 to pursue a doctorate in social work. Now she’s the director of the Social Policy Institute at Wash U and working to research and develop policy to help black families in north St. Louis who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

Tracking COVID-19 cases by zip code highlights inequity in St. Louis region

St. Louis on the Air, Sarah Fenske spoke with Washington University’s Dr. Laurie Punch and Michal Grinstein-Weiss, the director of Washington University’s Social Policy Institute and of the Centene Center for Health Transformation. Grinstein-Weiss recently looked into COVID-19 case counts in ZIP codes across the St. Louis region.

We don’t need a map to tell us who COVID-19 hits the hardest in St. Louis

We don’t need a map to tell us that policymakers, health officials, corporations, and St. Louis residents themselves must continue to break down economic barriers to create partnerships and solutions that support the most vulnerable in our city – those who were already facing a disproportionate social, financial, and health burden prior to COVID-19 entering their lives.

What tax refunds tell us about how households might use economic impact payments

While economic impact payments are different than a tax refund, we can be fairly confident, based on this research, that in this moment of emergency, payments from CARES Act will be used on essential purchases. It is also possible households will allocate their economic impact payments to clear debt entirely or to make a minimum payment in order to keep some liquid assets in checking or savings.

Social Policy Institute, McDonnell International Scholars Academy award $10,000 seed grants to three research proposals

Social Policy Institute and McDonnell International Scholars Academy have jointly announced the selection of three international policy-focused proposals to receive $10,000 seed grants following a call for proposals in September 2019. The selected proposals will develop research that fosters international collaboration on policy projects and includes faculty from both Washington University and an international university.

United Way extends a financial life raft to employees who need it

United Way is offering TrueConnect, an employee financial wellness program, through a partnership with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. It is available to for-profit and nonprofit employers with 100 or more employees.

Financially Stressed Families Save More with Medicaid, Study Shows

Financially burdened families’ savings get a shot in the arm with access to Medicaid, according to a new study from CU Boulder, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis and Diego Portales University in Chile.

Call for Proposals for Seed Grant Program

The new Social Policy Institute at Washington University and the McDonnell Academy are seeking proposals for collaboration between Washington University researchers and researchers at international universities. The Social Policy Institute’s focus on cross-sector collaboration and international research is a natural complement to the McDonnell Academy’s emphasis on incubating domestic and international research talent and strengthening […]