Effective analysis of broad, complex research questions requires a rich tool kit of methods. Urban researchers use quantitative and qualitative strategies to provide rigorous and nuanced explanations of the meaning behind the data.
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Sometimes researchers will go to a certain place to watch and examine what is happening in that setting and document what they see. This qualitative method is referred to as observation. There are two forms of observation: participant observation, where the researcher takes part in the activities of the group, and nonparticipant or onlooker observation, where the researcher simply observes the activities. Most of the Urban Institute’s work is
A focus group is made up of individuals who share a common characteristic who participate in a moderated discussion. For example, they might be participants in the same program or residents in the same neighborhood. Focus groups can tell you what a group of people thinks about a certain topic or set of topics and why they think that way.
Qualitative interviews are semistructured conversations with individuals who have a certain level of knowledge about or experience with a subject. Respondents can be program participants, neighborhood residents, knowledgeable community members, program administrators or other staff, and elected officials. Interviews can be conducted both in-person and over the phone.
The measurement of inequality usually focuses on measuring inequality in outcomes (income or wealth or health or some other measure of well-being), variously using differences between the highest and lowest outcomes or variation nearer the middle or some other part of the distribution.
The Housing Finance Policy Center provides timely, impartial data and analysis on housing finance; educate policymakers and the public on how the housing finance system affects households, communities, and the broader economy; and foster sound public policy, efficient markets, and economic opportunity.
We analyze how work and earnings, supplemented by the social safety net, affect the economic well-being of families and older adults. As technological change and major demographic shifts have transformed the nature of jobs and the workforce, we identify what skills workers will need in the future and what challenges lie ahead for retiring baby boomers. And as economic inequality increases, we investigate trends in poverty and assess strategies
We study how the well-being of families and individuals are shaped by economic and demographic trends, and how policies and programs can improve economic security, human capital, family stability, and child well-being.
Our research helps nonprofit organizations, big and small, become more efficient and effective at carrying out these roles and promotes a better understanding of civil society.
We track the well-being of low-income families and analyze the risks and barriers they face in trying to achieve economic security. Many working families struggle to make ends meet, and many lack supports that would help them achieve their financial goals. Our researchers identify policy options to strengthen public and private work supports, promote meaningful employment for adults, and support positive outcomes for children.
The Urban Institute has been a leader in performance measurement and management for four decades. Early on, we pioneered performance management techniques that government agencies still use to evaluate and improve public services, from garbage collection to human services to economic development. Our research also helps public agencies and private nonprofit organizations identify what questions to ask, what data to collect, and how to use that
The aging of the baby boomer generation brings sweeping changes for all Americans. If current policies continue, this demographic shift will put more demands on health care and long-term care, shrink the number of workers per retiree, and potentially slow economic growth. But policies that promote productive aging, like rewarding paid employment at older ages, encouraging volunteerism, or expanding community-living options for frail older adults,
The State and Local Finance Initiative (SLFI) is an Urban Institute project in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. The initiative equips policymakers, citizens, and the media with tools to understand and address the fiscal challenges and opportunities facing state and local governments. SLFI provides current, reliable, and unbiased research, data, and analysis. The initiative integrates knowledge across policy domains and government levels
The Urban Institute has built a multidisciplinary program of evidence and policy analysis focused on the District of Columbia and its region. This work draws from the breadth of Urban’s substantive expertise, including child well-being, education reform, workforce development, foreclosure mitigation, affordable housing, crime prevention, the social safety net, and health care. We provide current and reliable data at multiple geographic levels