Pathways to Self-Sufficiency: Getting Ahead in an Era Beyond Welfare Reform

September 6–7, 2007, University of Wisconsin–Madison

This working conference will bring together authors and discussants who have been commissioned to write and discuss chapters for a book to be published by the Russell Sage Foundation. The book will focus on strategies for helping low-income families achieve stable employment and financial security under current welfare policies. Carolyn Heinrich and John Karl Scholz will lead the conference and edit the volume.

The conference and chapters will focus on (1) the politics of the safety net and policy efforts to enhance self-sufficiency; (2) policy innovations and lessons from other countries in promoting self-sufficiency; (3) health issues facing low-income families and how problems of health care access (government- and employer-based) inhibit their self-sufficiency; (4) the formation of human capital, particularly among preschool children, and how work-oriented welfare policies affect investments in children and their longer-term outcomes; (5) policies to improve schools in high-poverty areas; (6) employment and employer-focused policies, including the minimum wage, tax credits, and subsidies directed at workers and/or employers; (7) crime and criminal rehabilitation policy, particularly given recent research showing incarceration rates exceeding employment rates of black males in some areas; and (8) the "deep" safety net, which will address supports needed for those who, for one reason or another, cannot meet the expectations and requirements included in a work-oriented system.

This working conference is being organized by Carolyn Heinrich, Thomas Kaplan, and John Karl Scholz, and cosponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

Pathways to Self-Sufficiency: Getting Ahead in an Era Beyond Welfare Reform
University of Wisconsin–Madison
September 6–7, 2007

Thursday, September 6, 2007
1:00-1:15 pm Introductions and Opening Remarks
Carolyn Heinrich and John Karl Scholz, University of Wisconsin–Madison
1:15-:2:30 pm On Work and Health among the American Poor
Jay Bhattacharya, Stanford University
Discussant: John Cawley, Cornell University
 2:30-3:45 pm Parental Pathways to Self-Sufficiency and the Well-Being of Younger Children
Greg Duncan, Northwestern University, Lisa Gennetian, The Brookings Institution, and Pamela Morris, MDRC
Discussant: Bobbi Wolfe, University of Wisconsin–Madison
4:00-5:15 pm School Reforms and Low-Income Families
David Figlio, University of Florida
Discussant: Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, University of Chicago
5:15-6:30 pm Beyond the Safety Net: Supporting the Economic Security of Working Poor Families
Marcia Meyers, University of Washington, and Janet Gornick, Baruch College-CUNY
Discussant: Tim Smeeding, Syracuse University
Friday, September 7, 2007
8:30-9:45 am Policy Streams and Policy Gulches: The Politics of Low-Income Families in the United States
Kent Weaver, Georgetown University
Discussant: Joe Soss, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
9:45-11:00 am Alternative Labor Market Policies to Increase Economic Self-Sufficiency: Mandating Higher Wages, Subsidizing Employment, and Raising Productivity
David Neumark, University of California, Irvine
Discussant: Harry Holzer, Georgetown University
11:15 am-12:30 pm The Impact of Incarceration on the Employment Outcomes of Former Inmates: Policy Options for Fostering Self-Sufficiency and an Assessment of the Cost-Effectiveness of Current Corrections Policy
Steve Raphael, University of California, Berkeley
Discussant: Michael Stoll, UCLA
1:30-2:45 pm Providing a Safety Net for the Most Disadvantaged Families
Rebecca Blank and Brian Kovak, University of Michigan
Discussant: Jim Ziliak, University of Kentucky
2:45-4:00 pm Discussion of the overall policy relevance of the conference contributions and moderation of broader audience participation
Tom Gais, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government