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Robert I. Lerman
Institute Fellow
Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population
Since becoming a professional economist, I have focused on understanding social problems and developing productive ways to attack them. My involvement has stretched from my dissertation on youth unemployment, to public policy work on income support and youth employment programs, to analyses of unwed fathers, to promotion of homeownership vouchers, and to proposals to expand youth and adult apprenticeship. Urban has been a wonderful environment to collaborate on research and evaluations, to publish policy-relevant research, and to disseminate the findings to the research community, congressional and administrative staff, and the general public.

Robert Lerman is an Institute fellow in the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute as well as professor of economics at American University and a research fellow at IZA in Bonn, Germany. A leading expert on apprenticeship, he recently established the American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeship. His current research focus is on skills, employer training, apprenticeship programs in the United States and abroad, and housing policies.

Lerman’s published research covers employment issues, earnings and income inequality, family structure, income support, and youth development, especially as they affect low-income populations. In the 1970s, he worked as staff economist for both the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and the US Department of Labor. He was one of the first scholars to examine the patterns and economic determinants of unwed fatherhood, and to propose a youth apprenticeship strategy in the United States.

He served on the National Academy of Sciences panel on the US postsecondary education and training system, and on the Maryland Task Force on Economic Development and Apprenticeship. Lerman has testified before congressional committees on youth apprenticeship, child support policies, and the information technology labor market.

Lerman earned his AB at Brandeis University and his PhD in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Research Areas
Wealth and financial well-being
Social safety net
Economic mobility and inequality
Children and youth
Opportunity and ownership
Kids in context
Inequality and mobility
Beyond high school: education and training
Job markets and labor force