H. Luke Shaefer

Director, Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan; Professor, School of Social Work; Professor, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy


Luke Shaefer is the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a professor of social work. He is associate dean for research and policy engagement at the Ford School and serves as the inaugural director of Poverty Solutions, an interdisciplinary, presidential initiative at U-M that seeks to partner communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty.

Shaefer’s research on poverty and social welfare policy in the United States has been published in top peer-reviewed academic journals in the fields of public policy, social work, public health, health services research, and history, and his work has been supported by the National Science 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 the New York TimesWashington PostThe EconomistThe Atlantic, and Los Angeles Times, among other media outlets, and he has been featured on such programs as Marketplace 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 was named a 2020 Carnegie Fellow in support of his current research with Edin, a project called Understanding Communities of Deep Disadvantage.

Shaefer also acts as a special counselor to the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He received his B.A. in politics from Oberlin College and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration.