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Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan

Joan and Sanford Weill hall
Suite 5100
735 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091

Key Issues

Economic Mobility

Economic mobility refers to people’s ability to improve their economic status over the course of their lifetimes. Economic mobility requires access not only to income, assets, training, and employment, but also more intangible resources like power — the ability to make choices for yourself and influence others — and social inclusion, according to the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty.

It’s expensive to be poor, which limits economic mobility. Fines and fees add up when someone is unable to pay a full bill, and financial institutions often aim predatory products at low-income customers. A family living in poverty will struggle to afford basic household expenses like property taxes, auto insurance, internet access, and utility bills as well as necessities like food and health care.

Below is an overview of the numerous research projects supported by Poverty Solutions that aim to promote a better understanding of drivers of and barriers to economic mobility.

Economic Mobility Scholars


News Releases

Research Projects

  • Systems and structures of poverty – the profit of debt

    Household debt has been on the rise in the U.S. for the past three decades. These debts accrue in a variety of ways from attempting to climb the ladder of opportunity (student loans), seeking stability for one’s family (housing), making ends meet when money is tight (credit cards), getting sick or injured (healthcare), traveling to…

  • Understanding How Poverty Affects Water Affordability in Detroit

    Water affordability and access in the City of Detroit is a growing concern for city officials, area residents, and community groups working in the city. In this project, the researcher will work with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), Office of Sustainability, and the Detroit Health Department (DHD) to examine how the broader context…

  • Supporting Economic Mobility through Community Mentorship

    How can digital tools facilitate mentorship for an inclusive population? The Eastside Community Network and the University of Michigan School of Information will answer this question through an evaluation of the Lower Eastside Economic Mobility (LEEM) program’s impact on low-income participants’ psychosocial wellbeing and the perceived effectiveness of the program toward increasing employment and economic…

  • Helping Across Generations: An Exploratory Study of Blue Collar Workers’ Retirement Well-Being

    With today’s young adults facing increasing financial pressures, it is parents that often come to the rescue. Older adults from working-class backgrounds often provide help to their adult children and extended families, which can affect family relationships, and their own economic well-being, particularly in retirement. This effort will explore the impacts of these arrangements. While…

Detroit News | Oct. 23, 2021

Advocates push Detroit's Proposal R to start reparations talks

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Yahoo!Money | Oct. 21, 2021

The Child Tax Credit payments are missing some of the most vulnerable families

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CNN | Oct. 15, 2021

More than $15 billion in child tax credit payments distributed on Friday

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