University of Wisconsin–Madison

Research Networks

The Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) coordinates with its U.S. Collaborative of Poverty Centers (CPC) to facilitate five national Research Networks intended to design, guide, and implement thematic research and policy agendas in the following areas below.

Each network includes researchers, policymakers, and practitioners with a variety of professional, disciplinary, methodological, and policy perspectives, to assure that the networks bring a range of approaches to bear on current policy issues and are responsive and informative to the larger policy, practice, and research communities.


The Research Networks function to advance applied, policy-relevant research on the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality in order to inform policies and programs. Each network provides intellectual leadership and training guidance in their thematic area.

Themes and Leadership

  • Poverty and Geography

    This network explores links among geographic location, poverty, and inequality; deep and concentrated poverty in diverse contexts; interactions between race and geography/location with respect to poverty; locational approaches to addressing poverty and inequality. Co-Leads: Scott Allard and Michael Stoll

  • Poverty and Family Functioning

    Key issues of inquiry for this network include determinates, facilitators, and consequences of family structure and stability; interplay of poverty and inequality with family functioning and human development throughout the life course; policies and programs to promote safe, stable, and healthy families, human capital development, and child well-being. Co-Leads: Marcy Carlson and Christopher Wimer

  • Poverty, Employment, and Self-Sufficiency

    This network examines labor market characteristics and dynamics; policies and strategies to combat deep poverty and nonparticipation in the labor market; the role of race with respect to poverty, self-sufficiency, and the labor market, including analysis of potential disparate impacts of public policies, systems, and institutional practices; policy and strategies to reduce poverty and material deprivation by encouraging work, promoting self-reliance, and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of existing human services programs. Co-Leads: Jennifer Romich and Timothy Smeeding

  • Poverty and the Transition to Adulthood

    Key issues of inquiry for this network include the influence of poverty on healthy transitions to adulthood, including educational attainment, labor force participation, and family formation; positive youth development strategies with disadvantaged populations; the role of policies and programs (e.g., human capital development; child welfare, including foster care and programs for youth aging out of care) in promoting successful transitions to adulthood for disadvantaged youth. Co-Leads: J. Michael Collins and Carolyn Heinrich

  • Poverty, Tax and Transfer Policies

    This network explores the role of tax policies in encouraging labor market participation, reducing poverty, and supporting healthy, stable families; the role of tax policies in job creation and stimulating demand for labor. Co-Leads: Rourke O’Brien and James Ziliak