urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Melissa M. Favreault

Melissa M. Favreault



Senior Fellow


"Social Security is not just a retirement program. It affects Americans throughout their lives through the payroll tax contributions they make and the benefits they and their dependents receive in retirement and disability. Effects can even persist after death, through payments to surviving spouses and children. I am interested in how differences in opportunities and outcomes throughout the life course-from employment and marriage to disability and death-shape treatment by Social Security."

Melissa M. Favreault is Senior Fellow in the Urban Institute’s Income and Benefits Policy Center. She co-edited Social Security and the Family: Addressing Unmet Needs in an Underfunded System (Urban Institute Press 2002), and has written extensively about the distributional effects of proposed changes to Social Security. Her work in this area has focused on how changes in family structure and work/earnings patterns affect economic well-being in retirement, with a special emphasis on effects for women, low-wage workers, and persons with disabilities. For this work, she has often relied on dynamic microsimulation models, and she has helped to develop these types of models for both the Urban Institute and the Social Security Administration.

Dr. Favreault served on the Social Security Advisory Board’s 2011 Technical Panel on Assumptions and Methods. She earned her B.A. in Political Science and Russian from Amherst College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Cornell University.

Areas of expertise

Social Security reform, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the aged, long-term modeling

Selected Publications from Melissa M. Favreault

  • Revitalizing Social Security: Effectively Targeting Benefit Enhancements for Low Lifetime Earners and the Oldest Old
  • Discrimination and Economic Mobility
  • Social Security Spouse and Survivor Benefits for the Modern Family
  • Publications by topic:
    Elderly
    Economic Well-being
    Economy
    Income and Wealth Distribution
    Employment/Income Data
    Retirement/Pensions
    Other Data

    See all publications by Melissa M. Favreault

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