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New Ford School research center to study poverty

Researchers at U-M hope to make a contribution to the understanding of and reduction in poverty in this country through a new $5 million, federally funded research center.
Blank (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week presented the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy with a five-year cooperative agreement for the National Poverty Research Center. The research agenda will explore the long-term effects of policy changes, looking particularly at the well-being of families living in or moving out of poverty. The center will involve faculty from across the campus community in its research.

Rebecca M. Blank, dean of the Ford School and co-director of the Poverty Center with Prof. Sheldon H. Danziger, notes that U-M’s strong social science and professional programs make the University a good location for such a program.

“It’s truly an honor to become the location of the National Poverty Research Center,” Blank says. “All of the researchers involved hope that the work will make a real difference, improving the well-being of those who live in poverty.”
Danziger (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)

People from U-M and other universities will perform research at the center, and faculty members involved with the center have expertise in economics, public policy, sociology, psychology, demography and medicine, she says. “We are also committed to training and mentoring younger policy researchers and to finding ways to interact this research work with the world of policy and practice,” she says.

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson says the U-M team will bring significant cross-disciplinary expertise to the study of poverty.

“So much of the progress we have made in the country on issues related to reducing poverty and reforming welfare was through careful research,”

Thompson says. “The National Poverty Center plays a critical role not only in contributing to this body of research but also in preparing researchers to meet this challenge in the future.”

The center will conduct research projects focused on the causes of poverty and the impact of policies to alleviate poverty, hold annual conferences and regular seminars, conduct a summer training program for poverty researchers, hold policy briefings in Washington, D.C., and publish working papers for public dissemination.

HHS has a long history of funding national poverty research centers and has used these centers to provide research and analysis needed to develop and evaluate anti-poverty policy. Activities of concern include: examining behavioral dynamics such as family formation and fertility; examining the overall well-being of children, families and communities by exploring the effects of social policies such as health and education on poverty; and differentiating between disadvantaged populations to better understand how policies impact various groups.

U-M experts who will be part of the center include: Blank, dean of the Ford School and Henry Carter Adams Collegiate Professor of Public Policy and Economics, former member, President’s Council of Economic Advisers; Sheldon Danziger, Henry J. Meyer Collegiate Professor of Public Policy and director of the Ford Foundation Program on Poverty and Public Policy; Mary Corcoran, professor of public policy and political science; Sandra Danziger, associate professor of social work and director, Michigan Program on Poverty and Social Welfare Policy; David Harris, assistant professor of sociology; Ann Lin, associate professor of public policy and political science; Harold Pollack, associate professor of public health; Robert Schoeni, associate professor of economics, associate director, Panel Study of Income Dynamics; Kristin Seefeldt, senior research associate, Ford School of Public Policy; and Pamela Smock, associate professor of sociology and associate director of the Institute for Social Research.

For more information, visit http://www.fordschool.umich.edu



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