Op-ed: We have the tools to end childhood poverty. Why don’t we?

One year after the last monthly Child Tax Credit payment, Congress has failed to gather enough support to extend this program, which our research suggests provided a critical safety net to American families. A key part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the Child Tax Credit provided $3,600 for each child under six and $3,000 for each child […]

Habitat for Humanity International awards $350,000 to investigate impact of housing on wealth building

Yung Chun, research assistant professor of the Social Policy Institute and Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, received a $350,000 research award from Habitat for Humanity International to evaluate homeownership programs implemented by local Habitat affiliates and investigate the impact on wealth building for households with low incomes. Through this project, the Social […]

Financial Well-being of Frontline Healthcare Workers: The Importance of Employer Benefits

Summary Frontline healthcare workers – especially direct care workers (DCWs), such as home health aides, struggle due to low pay, lack of benefits, and difficult working conditions. The need for these workers is growing. Unless frontline healthcare jobs improve, positions may be difficult to fill, and care for vulnerable members of society may be compromised. […]

Male Caregivers and Engagement in a Family Strengthening Program for Child Disruptive Behavior Disorders

Abstract Awareness and interest in involving male caregivers in child mental health treatment has grown, especially for youth with disruptive behavior disorders like oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between male caregiver involvement and treatment engagement for child ODD. Children (n = 122) ages 7–11 and their caregivers participated […]

Prevalence of Long-COVID Among Low-Income and Marginalized Groups: Evidence From Israel

Abstract Objective: To identify the socioeconomic and demographic factors associated with the prevalence of self-reported long-COVID symptoms. Method: We examined the association between acute-COVID (SARS-CoV-2) and long-COVID symptoms, by a cross-sectional analysis of data obtained on a prospective online-survey, conducted from November to December 2021 on a nationally-representative sample of the Israeli population (N = 2,246). Results: Findings […]

Changes in food insecurity levels during the COVID-19 economic crisis: Differences based on sociodemographic factors

By Oren Heller, research director, Israel; Yaniv Shlomo, Data Analyst, Israel; Hayley Kalb, communications assistant; Michal Grinstein-Weiss, founding director Food insecurity is a national problem with short and long-term consequences that harm the economy and society. This problem was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the labor market changed, affecting the disposable income of many […]

Predictors of and Barriers to Receipt of Advance Premium Tax Credits

Abstract Objectives: The Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC) is designed to remedy lack of health insurance due to cost; however, approximately 30 million Americans remain without health insurance, and millions of households leave billions in tax credits unclaimed each year. A prerequisite of APTC is to file one’s taxes; however, few studies have examined tax filing […]

Data is for Everyone: A Data Science for Social Impact Summit

This event took place in person from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on November 15 at the Clark-Fox Forum in Hillman Hall at Washington University in St. Louis and online. About the event At the summit, social sector colleagues with diverse roles and levels of experience joined together to connect and learn new strategies for leveraging data […]

All over the Map: A Systematic Literature Review and State Policy Scan of Medicaid Buy-In Programs for Working Individuals with Disabilities

Abstract While supports for people with disabilities have increased, significant healthcare and financial barriers persist. State-administered Medicaid Buy-In programs for working people with disabilities, distinct from broader buy-in discussions that have emerged as some states consider expanding access to health insurance, are intended to incentivize employment and protect against a loss of Long-Term Services and […]

How Would Americans Respond to Direct Cash Transfers? Results from Two Survey Experiments

Abstract Universal basic income has gained renewed interest among policymakers and researchers in the U.S. While research indicates that unconditional cash transfers produce diverse benefits for households, public support lags in part due to the predicted unemployment and frivolous spending. To understand how Americans would reorganize their lives around unconditional cash transfers, this paper examines […]

Democratizing the economy or introducing economic risk? Gig work during the COVID-19 pandemic

Summary Though the growth of the gig economy has coincided with increased economic precarity in the new economy, we know less about the extent to which gig work (compared with other self-employment arrangements and non-gig work) may fuel economic insecurity among American households. We fill this gap in the literature drawing on a sample of […]

Combatting Rising Healthcare Costs for Healthier Adults

Summary In 2020, healthcare expenditures averaged $12,530 per person, up 9.7% from 2019. In 2018, 19% of U.S. households had medical debt with $2,000 being the median amount owed. Over half of adults between 18 to 64 years of age are estimated to experience some form of medical financial hardship including medical bills or debt, […]

Usage and Impact of Benefits Among Frontline Healthcare Workers

Summary We completed a study about frontline healthcare workers – the benefits they get through work and how they are doing financially. This brief provides highlights from our survey to 2,321 workers and interviews with 30 workers.

Improving perinatal outcomes for mother and child through Fresh Rx: Nourishing Health Starts

Dan Ferris, associate director of education and training for SPI, along with co-authors, recently published, “Does a food insecurity intervention improve perinatal outcomes for mother and child? A randomized control study protocol of the Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts program,” in the Journal of Public Health Research.

Lessons from a global team

I truly believe we can accomplish more by stepping outside of our own culture and seek to understand and learn from each other. This is what makes SPI’s global approach to its work so impactful. I look forward to hosting WashU colleagues in Israel next time.

Human-centered approach to benefits research for health care field

By Kourtney Gilbert, program coordinator, SPI As researchers, we work a lot with numbers on a page. These numbers often feel distant from the people they represent, or the policy and practices we hope to inform. For this reason, when the Social Policy Institute launched its Building on Benefits research project aimed at better understanding […]

Household Financial Security: What can we learn from research in the U.K.?

A Trans-Atlantic Policy Forum could bring together academic researchers,
policy makers, advocates, and corporate leaders in the U.S. and U.K. to develop
insights to fuel changes in public policies and corporate behavior to promote the
financial security of low- and moderate-income (LMI) individuals and families.

Disaggregating the Effects of STEM Education and Apprenticeships on Economic Mobility: Evidence From the LaunchCode Program

Abstract Despite an increase in employer-aligned certificate and apprenticeship programs, there is limited research examining the impact of these programs on economic outcomes. Moreover, for research that has explored the impact of these programs, it is unclear whether the outcomes are a product of the courses alone or the apprenticeships and other work-related experiences that […]

Can Training and Apprentice Programs Increase Worker Wellbeing and Optimism?

Abstract While there are myriad studies that demonstrate the positive link between education and current life satisfaction, research has yet to formally explore life satisfaction and optimism in the context of reskilling programs. In this study, we evaluate the impacts of the LaunchCode program, a novel reskilling and apprentice program, on participant’s life satisfaction and […]

Timely and well-targeted financial help during COVID-19: an employer-community partnership for hotel workers in New Orleans

Abstract Economic disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic left many households without the income necessary to meet basic needs. We describe an innovative, community-based partnership between a financial services company, philanthropic funders, and employers to provide financial assistance to hotel workers in New Orleans who lost jobs and income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Results […]

At Home and on the Brink: U.S. Parents’ Mental Health during COVID-19

Abstract Though the COVID-19 pandemic required significant changes and adaptations for most Americans, parents faced acute challenges as they had to navigate rapidly changing schooling and child care policies requiring their children to spend more time at home. This study examines the effects of COVID-19 school and workplace policies as well as environmental and economic […]

“Take my word for it”: Group Texts and Testimonials Enhance State and Federal Student Aid Applications

Abstract As the cost of college continues to rise, it has become increasingly important for students to apply for financial aid. However, many students are unaware of the benefits of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We launched a field experiment with a non-profit organization to explore how both informational- and testimonial-type text […]

Household Spending Patterns and Hardships during COVID-19: A Comparative Study of the U.S. and Israel

Abstract The combined supply and demand shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic have created the largest consumer behavior shift in recent history, while exposing millions of households to material hardships like food insecurity and housing instability. In this study, we draw on national surveys conducted early in the pandemic to investigate the pandemic’s effects on self-reported […]

Humanizing artificial, expanding intelligence: Putting AI in context with the social sciences and the social sector

The relationships between artificial intelligence (AI), the social sciences, and the social sector have incredible potential. It is easy to imagine a disconnect between something that is, in name, artificial, and the study and support of human relationships. How are advancements in data science, such as AI, furthering the missions and shared objectives of non-profits, […]

Bridging community knowledge into social policy

By Abaki Beck, research manager at the Social Policy Institute I grew up picking root medicine with my family, knowledge passed down to my grandmother and aunts from their mother, and to my grandmother from her mother. I also grew up with a dedication to community activism from witnessing the health, economic and educational disparities […]

Let the Child Tax Credit work (Links to an external site)

Brookings shares research on the significant, lifelong effects and benefits programs like 2021’s Child Tax Credit have on children being raised in poverty and why the argument for declining labor force participation with an expanded CTC is weak.

Does a food insecurity intervention improve perinatal outcomes for mother and child? A randomized control study protocol of the Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts program

Abstract Pregnancy and postpartum periods represent critical times to support nutrition and household food security, especially for families with limited or strained economic resources. The Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts study uses a randomized design to examine a comprehensive, holistic “food is medicine” program targeting food insecure expectant mothers in an area with high rates […]

Experimental Evidence on Consumption, Saving, and Family Formation Responses to Student Debt Forgiveness (Links to an external site)

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial financial support to low-income Universal basic income has gained renewed interest among policymakers and researchers in the U.S. While research indicates that unconditional cash transfers produce diverse benefits for households, public support lags in part due to the predicted unemployment and frivolous As policy-makers grapple with whether […]

How Would Americans Respond to Direct Cash Transfers? Results from Two Survey Experiments

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial financial support to low-income Universal basic income has gained renewed interest among policymakers and researchers in the U.S. While research indicates that unconditional cash transfers produce diverse benefits for households, public support lags in part due to the predicted unemployment and frivolous spending. To understand how Americans […]

Congratulations to the newly inducted Graduate Policy Scholars from the 2021-2022 cohort!

Congratulations to the fifth cohort of the Graduate Policy Scholars who were inducted as scholars this May. Students represented departments across the university, including Arts & Sciences, Brown School, School of Medicine, School of Law, and the Olin Business School. The students who completed this rigorous program learned and engaged with policy as they developed […]

W.T. Grant Foundation awards $512k to study impact of Choice Neighborhood Initiative

Press release: June 8, 2022 Jason Jabbari, research assistant professor with the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, received a $512k grant from The William T. Grant Foundation to understand if and how the Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) reduces racial inequalities in academic outcomes for children and youth. Alongside Jabbari, co-principal investigators […]

Disparate financial assistance support for small business owners

Small business owners experienced a drastic economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Government pandemic assistance failed to reach many small business owners, especially those historically underserved by financial institutions. Drawing on a 2021 survey of 246 small business owners, the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis descriptively examined the extent to […]

The financial impacts of a near-miss with natural disasters

By Dan Zhao, postdoctoral research associate, and Michal Grinstein-Weiss, director When disaster strikes, it is easy to neglect the people on the boundaries. When assessing the impact of adverse economic shocks, whether it be natural disasters, pandemics, or factory shutoffs, the focal point is on those who were directly devastated by the shock. However, the […]

Social Policy Institute researchers gain insights from APPAM conference

Three Social Policy Institute (SPI) team members, Jason Jabbari, research assistant professor, Yung Chun, data analyst III, and Laura Brugger, data analyst III, traveled to Austin, Texas at the end of March to present SPI research at the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) 2021 Fall Conference. The theme of the conference was […]

Who Protests, What Do They Protest, and Why?

Abstract We examine individuals’ decisions to attend protests during the summer of 2020. Our analysis examines two simultaneous movements: Black Lives Matter along with protests calling for less stringent public health measures to combat the COVID-19 (e.g., for swifter reopening of businesses). Our analysis is made possible by a unique staggered panel data set that […]