A Message from the Director

As we are opening a near year, we are also experiencing the tragedy of the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. It was a sad day in our nation’s history and highlights the ever-widening divisions within the country. Despite the shocking and unprecedented moment in American history, Congressional leaders were undeterred and […]

In Israel, households with children are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic

Like many families across the globe, Israeli families have been facing the challenges of raising children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only do Israeli families have to adjust to large changes in their child(ren)’s schooling, but they are also forced to cope with the financial shocks, such as job and/or income loss that come with […]

7 Tips to Mitigate Hoarding Behavior

Mary Acri has seven tips to manage feelings of powerlessness, helplessness and fear without stockpiling toilet paper as the pandemic persists.

The Far-Reaching Impacts of COVID-19 on the Financial Lives of Israelis – Differences by Religion and Ethnicity

Press Release: October 25, 2020 With a COVID-19 death toll exceeding 2,000, Israel now has one of the highest per capita deaths in the world. Feelings of frustration and despair have resulted in the largest anti-government demonstrations since the establishment of the country, emphasizing that a central crisis during the COVID-19 is a growing divide […]

Three reasons young Israeli adults may face catastrophic, long-term financial burden from COVID-19

Press Release: September 25, 2020 The potentially catastrophic, long-term financial impacts of COVID-19 on young adults are highlighted in the Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 Survey[1] in Israel, which was administered between June 4 and July 1 by the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis in partnership with Mastercard. The survey results found […]

A different dialogue: Lifting up community voices

community photo

By: Sarah Cowart, communications manager for Social Policy Institute; Pamela Chan, associate director for Social Policy Institute, and Daniel Barker, director of research and knowledge, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth If you attended “Building an Inclusive Economy” on October 7 with the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis (SPI) and Mastercard Center […]

Supporting Inclusive Households in Building Financial Security

Supporting Inclusive Households

Join us virtually for Supporting Inclusive Households in Building Financial Security, 12:30-2:00 p.m. (CT) on Dec. 10, 2020, for a discussion about the opportunities to equitably support the financial situations of households.

SPI introduces new program with Brown School for students interested in data and statistics

Data and statistics are foundational to policy research and practice. As Social Policy Institute continues to grow, developing opportunities for people to increase knowledge and skills in these areas is a focus of our organization. One example of how we are doing this is a new opportunity led by the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and Social Policy Institute: Data and Statistics for Policy Practice.

Working Parents in COVID-19: The Impact and the Policy Response

Michal Grinstein-Weiss, director of the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis (SPI), and Nisha Patel, senior fellow at SPI, spoke on a panel hosted by the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences on Oct. 29, 2020 about the impact of COVID-19 on working families, including original research from the Socioeconomic Impacts […]

Can pre-commitment increase savings deposits? Evidence from a tax-time field experiment

This experiment tested combinations of behavioral strategies to promote savings including (1) asking filers at the start of tax preparation to pre-commit to saving their refund, and (2) choice architecture manipulations that emphasized directly depositing their refund into savings accounts or savings bond purchases.

SPI researchers featured at 2020 APPAM Conference

Seven Social Policy Institute researchers will present their papers and/or host discussions at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management conference on November 11-13.

An epidemic of food insecurity in Israel

Davar Today, a newspaper in Israel, interviewed Michal Grinstein-Weiss about the impact of COVID-19 on food insecurity in Israel. The data presented is based on the Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 Survey in Israel.

Emergency savings are a potential lifeline for households in financial distress due to COVID-19

Many U.S. households have lost a job and/or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These types of losses can influence an individual’s level of life satisfaction and thus, their overall health and well-being. One possible strategy to mitigate the impacts of economic volatility for U.S. individuals and households is to build a rainy-day fund. A […]

Hardship is greatest among vulnerable Israelis already struggling financially

By: Olga Kondratjeva, data analyst III, Social Policy Institute; Michal Grinstein-Weiss, director, Social Policy Institute; Talia Schwartz-Tayri, researcher, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; John Gal, professor, The Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; senior researcher, the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel; & Stephen Roll, […]

Research found 16% of job loss or layoffs reported payment difficulties

The story below is a translation from an article printed in Hebrew in Israel Today, the largest newspaper in Israel, on Oct. 5, 2020. A new study published here for the first time examined the effect of the first lockdown on households using 2,300 Israelis from June 4 to early July. The data show that […]

Safe, affordable child care is a right, not a privilege

As the United States nears the seventh month of weathering COVID-19’s impact, it has become clear that the economy will not recover simply by encouraging businesses to re-open or consumers to keep shopping. Working adults with children are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and will continue to struggle without stronger federal and state support for child care.

Lee twice recognized as leader in field

Hedwig Lee, professor of sociology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and faculty affiliate for Social Policy Institute, was elected to the prestigious Sociological Research Association. The highly selective honor society elects up to 14 new members each year; the sole criterion for selection is excellence in research.

Building an Inclusive Economy: Oct. 7

This event has passed. Watch a recording or see below. Historically, as the St Louis economy grows, benefits are not equally, nor equitably, distributed. As we look to rebuilding our economy from COVID-19 devastation, now is the time to consider how St. Louis can change to become a model for a truly inclusive economy that […]

Apply Now for the 2020-2021 Graduate Policy Scholar Program

If you are interested in policy, community organizing, advocacy and more, the Graduate Policy Scholar Program is a great match for you! The Graduate Policy Scholar Program is committed to building a community of policy-interested graduate students at Washington University. Over this coming academic year, Scholars-in-Training will supplement their coursework with skill-building and networking experiences designed […]

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 […]

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.

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.

The impact of tax refund delays on the experience of hardship and unsecured debt

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.

Using financial tips to guide debt repayment: experimental evidence from low-and moderate-income tax filers

Much of the literature on household finances tends to focus on discrete or relatively objective measures like savings, debt, economic mobility, and there has been a lack of research on holistic measures of financial well-being. This gap is due in part to the absence of a common understanding of how to define and measure financial well-being; a gap that was recently addressed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s development of a financial well-being scale. However, the research on this scale is still scarce and little is known about how financial well-being evolves over time. To that end, this paper uses a two-wave survey of low- and moderate-income tax filers to present the first longitudinal analysis of the CFPB’s financial well-being scale. Using a combination of descriptive analysis, OLS regression, and fixed effects panel regression, we assess (1) the stability of financial well-being over a six-month period; (2) the extent to which household characteristics predict volatility in financial well-being; and (3) the relationship between the experience of adverse financial events, including financial shocks and material hardships, and financial well-being. We find that financial well-being scores are extremely stable over the short-term, and that household characteristics are generally not strong predictors of financial well-being changes. We also find that, while adverse financial events like the loss of a job are significantly associated with declines in financial well-being, these changes are not large. These findings have implications for researchers and practitioners interested in using the financial well-being scale in program and policy evaluations.

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 […]

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

On June 25, 2020, join the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis and Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis to better understand the likely impacts COVID-19 on family wealth, and some possible responses to those gaps.

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

At 1 p.m. on June 4, 2020, join the Social Policy Institute at Washington University and the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis for a virtual conversation with Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson, authors of Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream.

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.

Improving Educational and Career Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities in the Future Trend Program

This research brief is part of a series by the Social Impact Nudgeathon initiative. This initiative incorporated insights from behavioral economics into the design and delivery of social welfare programs. Developed through a partnership between the Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel) and the Social Policy Institute (SPI) at Washington University in St. Louis, this initiative is among the first of its kind to launch in Israel. […]

Improving the Take-Up of Homecare Services Among Holocaust Survivors in a Jewish Charitable Organization

This research brief is part of a series by the Social Impact Nudgeathon initiative. This initiative incorporated insights from behavioral economics into the design and delivery of social welfare programs. Developed through a partnership between the Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel) and the Social Policy Institute (SPI) at Washington University in St. Louis, this initiative is among the first of its kind to launch in Israel. […]

Household Savings Decisions in Israel’s Child Savings Program: The Role of Demographic, Financial, and Intrinsic Factors

Israel’s Child Development Account (CDA) program, the Savings for Every Child Program (SECP), is universal and automatically enrolls all children under the age of 18, depositing approximately $14 into their accounts every month. Parents can transfer an additional monthly $14 into these long-term savings accounts and can choose an investment vehicle for their children’s deposits. […]

Assessing the Short-Term Stability of Financial Well-Being in Low- and Moderate-Income Households

Much of the literature on household finances tends to focus on discrete or relatively objective measures like savings, debt, economic mobility, and there has been a lack of research on holistic measures of financial well-being. This gap is due in part to the absence of a common understanding of how to define and measure financial well-being; a gap that was recently addressed […]

Nothing to Show for It: Non-Degreed Debt and the Financial Circumstances Associated with It

The number of individuals with student loan debt who do not earn their degrees is on the rise; nevertheless, there is little research that demonstrates the financial conditions and circumstances of these individuals. We address this knowledge gap by comparing the financial outcomes of student debt-holders who started college but did not earn a degree—those […]

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.

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.