Professor Luke Shaefer has received the 2021 U-M President’s Award for Public Impact. This award honors individuals whose research and expertise tangibly address a major public-sector challenge.
Shaefer is a leading scholar of contemporary American social welfare policy and the inaugural director of U-M’s Poverty Solutions. He is co-author of the acclaimed book, “$2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America,” which helped lay the groundwork for current anti-poverty legislative efforts, including President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
“It means a great deal to me to be at a university that has an award like this honoring public engagement. I think it really lifts up the importance of this kind of work,” Shaefer said. “I’m deeply honored to be a recipient because I greatly admire the scholars who have received it in the past.
Professor Luke Shaefer discusses the child tax credits with The New York Times, “Of 4 Family Policies in Democrats’ Bill, Which Deserves Priority?” Shaefer argued: “The child tax credit is elegant in that it does something for all low- and middle-income families.” “It does the most to empower families to do what they think is best for their families.”
Professor Luke Shaefer spoke with the New York Times about how the stimulus checks issued during the pandemic brought an immediate reduction in food insecurity, which, he says, continues to fall. “We could potentially be at the lowest level of food insecurity ever recorded, because of the government transfers,” said Shaefer.
Professor Luke Shaefer spoke with the New York Times about how the new monthly child tax credit could increase economic stability for families. "When we load up so much of our aid in an annual big refund, it means so many of our families are going into the red by the end of the year," Professor Shaefer said. "We used to think about poverty in the United States as static - your income is below the poverty line - but people's lives are very volatile."
Luke Shaefer was quoted in the New York Times on his co-authored study showing that the last two rounds of stimulus checks substantially reduced hardship, especially among the poorest households and those with children. Shafer said “We see an immediate decline among multiple lines of hardship concentrated among the most disadvantaged families.”
Professor Luke Shaefer’s book “$2.00 a Day'' helped lay the groundwork for current antipovery legislative efforts, including President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. A recent New York Times article describes how Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) arranged for all his Democratic Senate colleagues to receive a copy of the book.
Shaefer’s research was also cited in a New York Times article detailing how the availability of safety net programs have compounded the uncertainty and hardships faced by vulnerable populations during the pandemic — especially for those struggling with poverty and depression. “When the government acted, things got better — when the aid went away, things got worse,” he said.
Luke Shaefer spoke with the New York Times about the expansion of the child tax credit in Biden’s plan against child poverty. “To me, it’s the most transformational thing that’s under discussion, and nobody’s talking about it,” says Shaefer.
Professor Luke Shaefer spoke with the New York Times about Biden’s child poverty plan. “This is the boldest vision laid out by an American president for fighting poverty, and child poverty in particular, in at least half a century,” said Shaefer.
In March, Congress approved more than $2 trillion in economic relief, including hundreds of billions of dollars to individuals in direct stimulus payments, nutritional assistance and bigger-than-normal unemployment checks. The aid “has been much more effective than I first thought,” said Luke Shaefer “It was probably the most effective social safety net response we’ve ever had.”
Professor Luke Shaefer has been named a 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. The two-year award provides $200,000 in support of his project, “Deepening Our Understanding of America's Most Vulnerable Communities.” Shaefer is also the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and the director of U-M’s Poverty Solutions.
The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program was established in 2015 and provides philanthropic support for high-caliber scholarly research in the humanities and social sciences that addresses important and enduring issues confronting our society. Shaefer is one of 27 fellows named to the 2020 class. The criteria prioritize the originality and potential impact of a proposal, as well as a scholar’s capacity to communicate the findings with a broad audience.
“I am deeply honored to be named one of the Carnegie Fellows,” says Shaefer. “The fellowship will help me and my collaborators immensely in our work to more deeply understand disadvantage in this country and help direct resources and action to where they’re needed most.”
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106