urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Policy Briefs

After Katrina
In Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, two policy questions demand attention. First, what have we learned that could improve the nation's response to emergencies? Second, which public policy approaches would deal best with the devastation in greater New Orleans? This series assesses the challenges now facing New Orleans and recommends tested models for making the city's social infrastructure stronger and more equitable than it was before Katrina.


Caring for Children
Using Urban Institute analysis of state child welfare reporting systems and child welfare surveys, this series offers facts and perspectives on such topics as the cost of protecting these children in care and the outlook for the large number of children who don't get adopted.


Charting Civil Society
The Center on Nonprofits & Philanthropy produces this series to offer guidance on ways to foster a more "civil" society. In-depth analyses are given on such topics as Church-State partnerships, extending the charitable deduction to taxpayers who do not itemize, and various ways to improve child care quality.


Child Welfare Research Program
This series monitors how child welfare policy becomes practice, identifies important emerging issues in child welfare research, and summarizes findings from practical studies to help inform the public policy debate.


Economic Perspective
In this column for Tax Notes magazine, senior fellow Eugene Steuerle provides analysis on the economics of the budget and taxation. For over 14 years, the column has targeted such fiscal matters as the excessive costs of health care, how to review tax changes, and who should be certified for EITC.


Economic Restructuring and the Job Market
A series on labor trends and their policy implications by Robert Lerman, senior fellow in the Urban Institute's Center on Labor, Human Services & Population, examines such topics as the inequality of earnings and meritocracy without rising inequality.


Emerging Issues in Philanthropy
The Urban Institute's Center on Nonprofits & Philanthropy and Harvard University's Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations summarize their findings from convened seminars, which explore topics such as whether the benefits derived from the charitable tax deduction are worth the cost.


Fast Facts on Welfare Policy
In this series, the Urban Institute's Assessing the New Federalism project presents specific findings from the National Survey of America's Families and the Welfare Rules Database. Topics covered include child welfare, health insurance coverage, race and ethnicity, and state welfare rules.


The Future of the Public Sector
This series on the long-term forces affecting social policy takes a strong focus on challenges for the twenty-first century. Those challenges include maintaining quality in health care as costs are contained; the implications of shifting responsibilities from the federal level to the states; and how can governments determine the public will in complex policy issues.


Governing-for-Results and Accountability
Using results from the Urban Institute's Governing-for-Results and Accountability Project, this series offers an examination of performance management that looks at strategic planning, program budgeting, and citizen involvement in the states. These briefs include snapshots and success stories from the states and localities that have made contributions to this field.


Health Policy Briefs
Health Policy briefs provide analysis and commentary on key health policy issues facing the nation. Topics include Medicare and Medicaid policy, changes in private health care markets, strategies for expanding health insurance, and the rising costs of health care. The series includes both data briefs and perspectives on national debates.


Health Policy Online
These briefs consider the intersection between health policy and budgetary concerns. Selected topics include whether a potential block grant approach to reform is or is not a panacea for Medicaid's fundamental problems; how welfare reform significantly restricts Medicaid eligibility of noncitizens; a comparison of costs between Medicaid and private insurers; and a description of how the State Children's Health Insurance Program has managed to dodge the budget ax.


Immigrant Families and Workers
The Urban Institute's Immigration Studies Program takes a hard look at the size and growth of the U.S. population's foreign-born in this series. They offer facts and perspectives on the legal immigrants who arrived after welfare reform's enactment in 1996, the wide dispersal of immigrants during the 1990s, and why few public policies promote naturalization.


Learning Curve
This series provides brief summaries of research and analysis on timely issues being studied by the Education Policy Center, with some emphasis on how states and schools are being held accountable under the 1991 No Child Left Behind Act. Teacher certification is another critical topic being explored.


Metropolitan Housing & Communities
The Urban Institute's Metropolitan Housing & Communities Center brings local perspectives on economic development, neighborhood revitalization, housing, discrimination, and arts and culture to their study of policies and programs. This brief series examines such topics as an equitable housing strategy for the District of Columbia.


Metropolitan Housing & Communities: A Roof Over Their Heads
Using findings from a new research initiative, "A Roof Over Their Heads: Changes and Challenges for Public Housing Residents," this series examines the impact of the radical changes in public housing policy over the past decade. One major focus is how large-scale public housing demolition and revitalization has affected the lives of original residents.


National Budget Issues
This series analyzes wide-ranging budgetary matters that cut across all Urban Institute research areas and reveals the tough choices that the nation must grapple with through the budget. The first brief details how programs for working families and children are scheduled to shrink over the next few years.


New Federalism: Issues and Options for States
This series is a product of Assessing the New Federalism, a multiyear project to monitor and assess the devolution of social programs from the federal to the state and local levels. Researchers explore many timely matters, including status of teen mothers, placement of neglected and abused children with relatives, child care, and fiscal stress.


New Federalism: National Survey of America's Families
Using findings from the 1997, 1999, and 2002 rounds of the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF), Assessing the New Federalism researchers offer analyses on such family topics as those without health insurance, child visitation with absent parents, TANF, and immigration. This survey incorporates information on more than 100,000 people and 13 targeted states.


Nonprofit Overhead Cost Project
A joint venture of the Center on Nonprofits & Philanthropy at the Urban Institute and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the first in this series discusses the underreporting of fundraising expenses in the nonprofit sector.


Older Americans' Economic Security
This series examines the financial situation of aging Americans, assessing their levels of wealth and future prospects. The briefs appraise the challenges that will face baby boomers as they near retirement and evaluate possible solutions.


Opportunity and Ownership Project
Researchers at the Urban Institute conduct policy research on assets, ownership and opportunity for low- and middle-income families.


Opportunity in America
Isabel V. Sawhill and Daniel P. McMurrer wrote this series on economic and social mobility. They focus on such subjects as the incompatibility of justice and inequality, the declining importance of class, and how the low-wage labor market fits into welfare reform.


Outcome Management for Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofits are increasingly asked to provide evidence that their programs help clients. This Urban Institute series explores the ways that these organizations can examine their efficacy.


Perspectives on Low-Income Working Families
Many children grow up today in families with low-incomes and with a parent working a substantial amount. The first perspective in this series illustrates how these families work hard for low wages, with jobs that lack basic benefits, and with expenses barely covered by income. The second considers how a new child care policy might help working families.


Perspectives on Productive Aging
As the nation ages, older Americans are increasingly seen as a vibrant group with wisdom and energy to offer society and their families. This series describes their activities and highlights the best ways for society and policymakers to support and encourage the full engagement of older people.


The Retirement Project
This series addresses how current and proposed retirement policies, demographic trends, and private-sector practices affect the well-being of older individuals, the economy, and government budgets. Suggestions are made for reforms to keep older workers on the job longer, and on how cash balance pension plans might improve retirement security.


Short Takes on Welfare Policy
This 2002 series from the Urban Institute's Assessing the New Federalism project focuses on specific issues surrounding reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Each Short Take briefly describes the policy issue, summarizes pertinent data, and recommends options for policymakers to consider.


Single Parents' Earning Monitor
How well are single parents faring in the workforce? This series looks at this group over a period of a few years to see how this group is doing amidst welfare reform's employment strategy.


Snapshots of America's Families
These Snapshots of America's Families offer a first look at the well-being of children and adults through the lens of the 1997 National Survey of America's Families (NSAF). Individually, the Snapshots highlight social and economic issues that are indicative of well-being. Together, they capture a picture of family life on the eve of policy changes, such as federal welfare reform, that are affecting how social services, health, and income support programs are designed and administered.


Snapshots of America's Families II
Snapshots of America's Families II is the Urban Institute's first look at the well-being of children and adults through the lens of the 1999 National Survey of America's Families (NSAF). Snapshots II presents a picture of how the experiences of American families have changed in the first few years following federal welfare reform and other major policy changes.


Snapshots of America's Families III
The first findings from the 2002 round of the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF) show how American families have changed since 1997. Snapshots paint a detailed portrait of health insurance coverage and use, marriage and family structure, family environment, child well-being, and participation in government programs.


Straight Talk on Social Security and Retirement Policy
These twice-monthly policy briefs candidly address retirement policy and the financial security of those in or near retirement. Topics include the equity of benefits for various groups, the long-term financing of these benefits, and the possibilities and potential for reform. Straight Talk demystifies these issues for lawmakers, tax analysts, and interested lay audiences.


Strengthening Families
This series considers policies that help low-income parents provide the emotional and financial support their children need. Issues considered are low-income families and the marriage tax, helping low-income noncustodial fathers do more for their children, and how to redirect the 1996 welfare law toward building stronger families.


Tax Policy Issues and Options
Tax Policy Issues and Options offer objective, timely, and comprehensive research on a broad range of tax policy issues. This series is a product of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, which aims to clarify and analyze the nation's tax policy choices by providing accessible facts, analyses, and commentary to policymakers, journalists, citizens, and researchers.


Volunteer Management Capacity Study
Briefs in this series report on findings from a 2003 survey of volunteer management in charities and congregations. The findings are based on conversations with a systematic sample of organizations about their practices, challenges, and aspirations for their volunteer programs.