Analyzing how changing demographics and economic inequality affect family and individual well-being

Our Issues

We study how family and individual well-being is shaped by economic, social, and demographic trends, and how policies and programs can improve economic security, human capital, family stability, and child development.

Understanding how families are faring in the face of economic pressures and demographic change is essential for policymakers and practitioners who oversee social services and programs. Our research explores the implications of these changes for people and policies and contributes to the evolving conversation about growing inequality.

Our Approach

  • We combine rigorous quantitative methods and experimental demonstrations with the in-depth and nuanced insight that comes from qualitative research. This approach grounds our work in data and a deep understanding of the com­plexity of people’s lives and the systems that support and invest in them.
  • We work at the national, state, and local levels: observing programs on the ground, suggesting practical ways to streamline delivery, documenting the dam­aging effects of persistent childhood poverty, and assessing what Americans need to successfully work and support their families.
  • Much of our research focuses on groups that face serious barriers to stability and success, such as children in poverty, youth disconnected from work and school, low-income parents, immigrants, and racial and ethnic minorities. We examine the strengths, needs, and capacities of these population groups, not just the programs and policies designed to help them. 

Our Impact

Our work on low-income people’s experiences with public services has changed the way decisionmakers design the programs to help them. For example, our scholars illuminated problems in the child care voucher system and suggested more family-friendly policies. The recently reauthorized Child Care and Development Block Grant includes a number of policy changes that are the direct result of our research, with requirements that better support parents’ work and kids’ healthy development.