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H. Luke Shaefer

Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy, Professor of Public Policy, Ford School 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 Shafer, PhD, is the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy and Professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. At U-M, he is also 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.

Shaefer is one of the nation’s leading scholars of poverty and social welfare policy. His research has been published in top peer-reviewed academic journals in the fields of public policy, public health, health services research, sociology, social work, 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, and The Atlantic, and he has been featured on such programs as PBS NewsHour, Marketplace, 1A, All Things Considered, 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.

Shaefer’s new co-authored book, The Injustice of Place, has been featured on MSNBC, The Atlantic, TIME, and the LA Times, among other outlets. He is the co-director of Rx Kids, the nation’s first citywide maternal and infant health cash prescription program launched in Flint, Michigan in January 2024. Through Poverty Solutions, Shaefer acted as a special counselor on anti-poverty policy to the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services from 2019-2021.

Shaefer received his BA in politics from Oberlin College and AM and Ph. from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration. He is the recipient of an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship.

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

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