About Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer
After decades of research on poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before—namely, that many of the people she was talking with had virtually no cash coming in. She then teamed up with H. Luke Shaefer, who confirmed a spike in the number of U.S. households living on less than $2 per person per day in the wake of the 1996 reform that abolished a federal guarantee of support to the poor and thereby ended “welfare as we knew it.” Edin and Shaefer then traveled from Cleveland, to Chicago, to the Mississippi Delta to spend time with 18 families, trying to better understand how the 1.5 million households living in this extreme poverty, including 3 million children, are able to get by at all.
Kathryn J. Edin, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, is recognized as one of the leading poverty researchers in the U.S. Noted for her “home economics of welfare” (Mother Jones), Edin uses both quantitative research and in-depth observation to try to better understand the lives of people living in poverty in the U.S. Her other books include Promises I Can’t Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage and Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City.
H. Luke Shaefer, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and the Ford School of Public Policy as well as a research affiliate at the National Poverty Center, is an expert on Census surveys that track the incomes of the poor. His recent work explores rising levels of extreme poverty in the U.S., the impact of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on material hardship, barriers to unemployment insurance, and strategies for increasing access to oral health care in the United States.