Heather Boushey

Executive Director and Chief Economist, Washington Center for Equitable Growth
Areas of Expertise:
  • Antipoverty Policy
  • Employer Benefits
  • Family Policies
  • Inequality & the Middle Class
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Jobs & Workers

Connect with Heather

About Heather

Boushey’s research focuses on economic inequality and public policy, specifically employment, social policy and family economic well-being. As Executive Director of Equitable Growth, she seeks to understand the mechanisms through which inequality affects growth and help make important new research relevant to policymaking.



Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Argues that resolving work–life conflicts is as vital for individuals and families as it is essential for realizing the country’s productive potential. Presents detailed innovations to help Americans find the time they need and help businesses attract more productive workers.

The Gloves-Off Economy: Workplace Standards at the Bottom of America’s Labor Market (edited with Annette Bernhardt, Laura Dresser, and Chris Tilly) (Cornell University Press, 2008).
Examines a range of “gloves-off” practices, the workers who are affected by them, and strategies for enforcing workplace standards. Across the United States, increasing numbers of employers are breaking, bending, or evading long-established laws and standards designed to protect workers. This "gloves-off economy" is sending shock waves into every corner of the low-wage labor market. In the process, employers who play by the rules are under growing pressure to follow suit. The editors, four respected labor scholars, have brought together economists, sociologists, labor attorneys, union strategists, and other experts to offer varying perspectives on both the problem and the creative solutions currently being explored in a wide range of communities and industries.
Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything (edited with Ann O’Leary) (Simon and Schuster, 2009).
Describes how a woman’s nation changes everything about how we live and work today. Now for the first time in our nation’s history, women are half of all U.S. workers and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families. This is a dramatic shift from just a generation ago (in 1967 women made up only one-third of all workers). It changes how women spend their days and has a ripple effect that reverberates throughout our nation. It fundamentally changes how we all work and live, not just women but also their families, their co-workers, their bosses, their faith institutions, and their communities.
"Helping Breadwinners When It Can’t Wait: A Progressive Program for Family Leave Insurance," Center for American Progress, May 31, 2009.
Proposes a Social Security Cares program to provide paid family and medical leave to nearly every worker in the United States. Social Security Cares provides the solution to the problem that most U.S. workers have no option for income when they take the kinds of work leaves covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, such as when they have a new child, are seriously ill but not disabled, or need time off to care for an ill family member.
"The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict: The Poor, the Professionals, and the Missing Middle," (with Joan C. Williams), Center for American Progress and the Center for WorkLife Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, December 31, 2009.
Illustrates why work-family conflict is so acute today for all American families as well as the disconnect between Americans' widespread concern over work-family conflict and their policymakers' inability to pass legislation to address this issue.
"Our Working Nation: How Working Women are Reshaping America’s Families and Economy and What It Means for Policymakers," (with Ann O’Leary), Center for American Progress, February 28, 2010.
Outlines a policy agenda that addresses the needs of today’s workers and families as they really are, not as we imagine them to be. The policy agenda laid out here explicitly focuses on ensuring that workers from across the income strata and in all kinds of families can make use of these policies and that the agenda will lead to a marked improvement in the ability of families to manage work-family conflict.
"The Role of the Government in Work-Family Conflict" The Future of Children 21, no. 2 (2011): 163-190.
Examines three types of work-family policies that affect work-family conflict and that are in serious need of repair – those that govern hours worked and workplace equity, those that affect the ability of workers to take time off from work because their families need care, and those that govern the outsourcing of family care when necessary.
"The American Middle Class, Income Inequality, and the Strength of Our Economy," (with Adam Hersh), Center for American Progress, April 30, 2012.
Identifies four areas where literature indicates that the strength of the middle class and the level of inequality affect economic growth and stability: a strong middle class promotes the development of human capital and a well-educated population; a strong middle class creates a stable source of demand for goods and services; a strong middle class incubates the next generation of entrepreneurs; and a strong middle class supports inclusive political and economic institutions, which underpin economic growth.

In the News

Heather Boushey's research on Michael TomaskyHeather Boushey, "I’m Ready for the Female Takeover of the Democratic Party," The Daily Beast, May 18, 2018.
Heather Boushey quoted on paid family and medical leave in Richard V. Reeves and Katherine Guyot, "A Policy Wish List for the Middle Class" Brookings, May 14, 2018.
"Viewpoint: Without Equal Pay, We All Pay the Price," Heather Boushey (with Sarah Jane Glynn), Lansing State Journal, April 12, 2018.
Heather Boushey quoted , "The New Republic March Issue: Sex & Power in Washington" New Republic, February 8, 2018.
Heather Boushey's research on Robert E. RubinHeather Boushey, "America Needs a Universal Paid Leave Program," The Washington Post, February 22, 2018.
Heather Boushey quoted in David Callahan, "To Reduce Inequality, a Foundation Looks to Shift Both Policy and the Larger Narrative" Inside Philanthropy, January 19, 2018.
"The Tax Bill Should've Been Called the Inequality Exacerbation Act," Heather Boushey, Common Dreams, December 22, 2017.
Heather Boushey quoted on defining middle income in Joan C. Williams, "We Need to Redefine What 'Working Class' Means" Time, August 14, 2017.
"Trump's Supply-Side Economic Swindle," Heather Boushey, The Hill, July 21, 2017.
"Everyone Should Have a Shot at Paid Family Leave," Heather Boushey (with Katie Bethell), CNN, April 4, 2017.
Heather Boushey quoted on paid leave in Paul Solman, "The Economic Case for DC’s Family Leave Policy" PBS News Hour, December 22, 2016.
Heather Boushey quoted on the impact of Trump's tax plan in Ben White, "Economy Could Soar and Then Crash under Trump" Politico, November 14, 2016.
Heather Boushey quoted on redistributing gains from capitalist growth in Neil Irwin, "A New Movement in Liberal Economics That Could Shape Hillary Clinton’s Agenda" New York Times, November 4, 2016.
Heather Boushey quoted on paid leave policies, "All in the Family" The Economist, September 10, 2016.
Heather Boushey quoted on being appointed as Hillary Clinton's chief economist in Matthew Yglesias, "Hillary Clinton’s Newly Announced Transition Team Gives Us a Hint of Her Priorities as President" Vox, August 16, 2016.
Heather Boushey's research on paid leave discussed in Michelle RuizHeather Boushey, "Heather Boushey’s Finding Time Drops the Mic on Work-Life Conflict," Vogue, April 20, 2016.
"Heather Boushey on Why Work-Life Policies Aren’t Just ‘Something for the Ladies’," Heather Boushey, Interview with Anna Louie Sussman, The Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2016.
Heather Boushey quoted on housing paid family leave within the Social Security Administration in Eric Garcia, "Where Hillary Clinton's Paid Family Leave Proposal Splits from What's Worked in the States" National Journal, October 16, 2015.
Heather Boushey quoted on reducing rising inequality in Eric Bradner, "Hillary Clinton's Economic Pitch: Americans 'Need a Raise'" CNN, July 13, 2015.
Guest to discuss global poverty on Goats and Soda, Heather Boushey, July 9, 2015.
Heather Boushey quoted on economic policy interventions in Eric Garcia, "Hillary Clinton's Economic Inequality Whisperer" National Journal, June 12, 2015.
Heather Boushey quoted on the costs of not having paid leave in Dory Devlin, "3 Hidden Costs of NOT Having Paid Family Leave" Fortune, February 17, 2015.
"You Can’t Help Today’s Middle Class with 1930s-Era Policies," Heather Boushey, Washington Post, December 19, 2014.
"Introduction: What We're Learning about Economic Equality and Growth," Heather Boushey, Washington Monthly, November/December 2014.
"Hard Work Should Pay Off," Heather Boushey, Room for Debate, New York Times, January 8, 2012 (Updated April 16, 2013).
Guest to discuss Obama’s economic goals on PBS Newshour, Heather Boushey, January 25, 2012.
Guest to discuss social security on The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, Heather Boushey, February 19, 2012.
"Obama Puts the Middle Class First (Surprise: So Do Economists)," Heather Boushey, The Atlantic, January 22, 2013.
"Miliband, Obama & ‘Middle-Out Economics’," Heather Boushey, New Statesman, February 15, 2013.
"An Affordable Step for a Vital Program," Heather Boushey, Room for Debate, New York Times, April 18, 2013.
Guest to discuss federal budget realities on On Point with Tom Ashbrook, Heather Boushey, December 10, 2013.
"New National Legislation Takes Important Lessons from California's Paid Family Leave," Heather Boushey (with Ann O’Leary), Huffington Post, December 19, 2013.