Shaefer

Luke Shaefer

Associate Professor of Social Work and Public Policy, University of Michigan; and Research Affiliate, National Poverty Center
Areas of Expertise:
  • Antipoverty Policy
  • Family Policies
  • Unemployment Insurance

About Luke

Shaefer's research focuses on the effectiveness of public programs in the U.S. in serving low-wage workers and economically disadvantaged families. His recent work explores the impact of food stamps participation on non-food household material hardship, barriers to unemployment insurance faced by low-educated workers, and the rise of extreme poverty in the U.S.

Briefs

The Ryan Budget and Michigan: A Few Win, but Millions Lose

  • Theda Skocpol

$2-a-Day Poverty in the United States

  • Kathryn Edin

Podcast

Publications

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (with Kathryn Edin) ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015).
Illuminates a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. Delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality.
"Expanding the Discourse on Antipoverty Policy: Reconsidering a Negative Income Tax" (with Jessica Wiederspana and Elizabeth Rhodes). Journal of Poverty 19, no. 2 (2015): 218-238.
Proposes that advocates for the poor consider the replacement of the current means-tested safety net in the United States with a Negative Income Tax. Highlights gaps in service provision that leave millions in poverty, explains how a NIT could help fill those gaps, and compares current expenditures on major means-tested programs to estimated expenditures necessary for a NIT. Addresses the financial and political concerns that are likely to arise in the event that a NIT proposal gains traction among policy makers.
"Transitions from Private to Public Health Coverage among Children: Estimating Effects on Out-of-Pocket Medical Costs and Health Insurance Premium Costs" (with Colleen M. Grogan and Harold A. Pollack). Health Services Research 46, no. 3 (2011): 840-858.
Argues that transitions from private to public health insurance among children yield significant financial benefit to families, who disproportionately have children in relatively poor health.
"Unemployment Insurance and Low-Educated, Single, Working Mothers before and after Welfare Reform" (with Liyun Wu). Social Service Review 85, no. 2 (2011): 205-228.
Argues that unemployment insurance has not become a stronger support for low-educated single working mothers in the years since the 1996 welfare reform. Suggests that SNAP (food stamps) is a strong support for these mothers.
"Covered Today, Sick Tomorrow? Trends and Correlates of Children’s Health Insurance Instability" (with H.D. Hill). Medical Care Research and Review 68, no. 5 (2011): 523-536.
Finds that the health insurance coverage of U.S. children has growth more volatile in recent years. There is a strong association between this volatility and economic shocks experienced by the families of these children, including job loss and marital dissolution.
"Participation in Unemployment Insurance: Differences in Application Rates and Receipt among Applicants by Education and Race and Ethnicity," (with A. Gould-Werth), National Poverty Center, 2011.
Finds that low-educated workers are less likely to apply for unemployment insurance than high-educated workers, and less likely to receive it, if they do apply.
"Extreme Poverty in the United States, 1996 to 2011," National Poverty Center, 2012.
Finds that the number and proportion of households with children living on $2 or less, per person, per day rose considerably between 1996 and 2011, even after accounting for food stamps. This growth was concentrated among sub-groups that were particularly impacted by the 1996 welfare reform.

In the News

"Medicaid Work Bill Could Hurt, Not Help, People Who Want to Work," Luke Shaefer (with Marianne Udow-Phillips and Megan Foster Friedman), Detroit Free Press, April 30, 2018.
Luke Shaefer quoted on his book in Jack Lessenberry, "Michigan's Legislature is Punishing the Poor" Michigan Radio, April 19, 2018.
Luke Shaefer's research on Rachel Cunningham. Luke Shaefer, "Poverty Solutions Creates an Interactive Map to Display Poverty Levels by County across Michigan," The Michigan Daily, January 2, 2018.
Luke Shaefer's research on Jack Lessenberry. Luke Shaefer, "Over 50 Years after the War on Poverty, it's Time to Find a Solution," Michigan Radio, January 8, 2018.
Luke Shaefer's research on the working poor discussed in Jack Lessenberry. Luke Shaefer (with Kathryn Edin), "Michigan’s Actions Snapshot of Society’s Attitude toward Poor," The Blade, January 13, 2017.
Guest to discuss welfare reform on Michigan Public Radio, Luke Shaefer, January 3, 2017.
Luke Shaefer quoted on extreme poverty in Dylan Matthews, "The War on the Poor: Donald Trump's Win Opens the Door to Paul Ryan's Vision for America" Vox, November 23, 2016.
"Twenty Years Since Welfare 'Reform'," Luke Shaefer (with Kathryn Edin), The Atlantic, August 22, 2016.
Luke Shaefer quoted on welfare in Robert Pear, "Political Rifts over Bill Clinton’s Welfare Law Resurface as Aid Shrinks" New York Times, May 20, 2016.
Christopher Jencks quoted on poverty in the U.S. in Max Ehrenfreund, "Bernie Sanders is Right: Bill Clinton’s Welfare Law Doubled Extreme Poverty" The Washington Post, February 27, 2016.
Luke Shaefer's research on extreme poverty in America discussed in Renée Loth. Luke Shaefer, "Millions are Living on $2 a Day - Yes, in the United States," Cognoscenti, November 13, 2015.
Luke Shaefer's research on extreme poverty in America discussed in Julia M. Klein. Luke Shaefer, "What is It Like to Live on '$2.00 a Day'? New Book Examines Deep Poverty in the U.S.," Los Angeles Times, October 2, 2015.
Luke Shaefer quoted on America's extreme poverty in Zeeshan Aleem, "Here's What It's Like Trying to Survive on Less than $2 a Day in America" Mic, September 24, 2015.
"The Truth about Food Stamps (Hint: They Work and Help Millions)," Luke Shaefer, New Republic, July 29, 2014.
"Blood Plasma, Sweat, and Tears," Luke Shaefer, The Atlantic, September 1, 2015.
Luke Shaefer's research on extreme poverty in America discussed in Dylan Matthews. Luke Shaefer, "Selling Plasma to Survive: How over a Million American Families Live on $2 per Day," Vox, September 2, 2015.
Luke Shaefer's research on extreme poverty in America discussed in Jared Bernstein. Luke Shaefer, "America's Poorest are Getting Virtually No Assistance," The Atlantic, September 6, 2015.
"This is What It's Like to Live on $2 a Day," Luke Shaefer, Interview with Jonathan Cohn, Huffington Post, September 3, 2015.
Luke Shaefer's research on poverty in America discussed in William Julius Wilson. Luke Shaefer, "‘$2.00 a Day,’ by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer," New York Times, September 2, 2015.
"Living on $2 a Day in America," Luke Shaefer, Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2015.
Luke Shaefer quoted on America's poverty and state welfare cuts in Anjali Shastry, "Sociologists: Increasing Aid to Needy Families Would Break Jobless Cycle" Washington Times, September 1, 2015.
"Give Thanks for Food Stamps. They Work.," Luke Shaefer, Bangor Daily News, November 26, 2013.
"With the Ryan Budget, the Wealthy Win while Most Michiganders Lose," Luke Shaefer (with Theda Skocpol), Detroit Free Press, August 19, 2012.
"Michigan Can’t Afford Social Service Cuts," Luke Shaefer, The Detroit News, October 1, 2009.
"Cutting Earned Income Tax Credit Holds Hidden Costs," Luke Shaefer, Detroit Free Press, May 14, 2011.
"Michigan Legislature Should Not Cut Aid to 25,000 Children," Luke Shaefer (with Marci Ybarra), Detroit Free Press, August 21, 2011.