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H. Luke Shaefer

Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy, Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Social Work, School of Work, Center Director, Poverty Solutions, Faculty Associate, Survey Research Center and Faculty Associate, Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research

H. Luke  Shaefer

H. Luke Shaefer, Ph.D. is the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy, a professor of social work, and the inaugural director of Poverty Solutions, an interdisciplinary, presidential initiative that partners with communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty. Through his role at Poverty Solutions, Shaefer acts as a special counselor on anti-poverty policy to the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Shaefer’s research on poverty and social welfare policy in the United States has been published in top peer-reviewed academic journals in the fields of public policy, social work, public health, health services research, and history, and his work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and U.S. Census Bureau among other sources. He has presented his research at the White House and before numerous federal agencies, has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and has advised a number of the nation’s largest human service providers.

His work has been cited in media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, The Atlantic, and Los Angeles Times, and he has been featured on such programs as Marketplace and CNBC’s Nightly Business Report. His book with Kathryn Edin, “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America,” was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review, and won the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism among other awards. He was recently named to an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship.

Shaefer received his BA in politics from Oberlin College and AM and PhD from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration.

Research Interests/Focus

Social safety net, low-wage workers, economically disadvantage families, non-profit management


Year Degree   School
2008 PhD Social Service Administration University of Chicago, Illinois
2005 MA Social Service Administration University of Chicago, Illinois
2001 BA Politics Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH


Poverty Solutions
Year Description
2022 President's Award for Public Impact
2020 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow
2020 Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
2018 2018 U-M Faculty Recognition Award
2018 Rackham Graduate School Funding
2017 Named a “torch recipient” as a top leader under forty in the field of social insurance, National Academy of Social Insurance.
2017 Best Scholarly Book of the Year for $2.00 a Day, the Society for Social Work and Research.
2014-2015 Appointed to the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council’s Panel on the Review and Evaluation of the 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation Content and Design.
2014 Elected to Membership in the National Academy of Social Insurance
2013 Emerging Scholar, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (ACF OPRE)
2013 Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award, Society for Social Work and Research
2012-2013 Professor of the Year, University of Michigan School of Social Work Student Union
2012-2013 Member of the University of Michigan School of Social Work Executive Committee.
2011 Visiting Fellow, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
2011 Visiting Scholar, Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin Madison
2010 L.R. Klein Award for Best 2009 Monthly Labor Review Article by an Author outside of the Bureau of Labor Statistics
2009 Best Abstract Award, Academy Health Annual Research Meeting
2007-2008 School of Social Service Administration Dissertation Fellowship, 2007-08.
2000 Senior Scholar, Oberlin College, 2000.

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