In Brief

A new book co-edited by a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago economist explores the effectiveness of policies and practices designed to help the poor achieve upward economic mobility.

Last Updated: 08/11/09

News Release

Book Offers Strategies to Improve Economic Opportunity for the Poor

CHICAGO — A new book co-edited by a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago economist explores the effectiveness of policies and practices designed to help the poor achieve upward economic mobility.

Strategies for Improving Economic Mobility of Workers: Bridging Research and Practice
"This book aims at offering a fresh review of the economic circumstances of disadvantaged segments of our population, as well as providing a provocative but nuanced assessment of the effectiveness of various policies and practices geared to redress a number of issues affecting them," Toussaint-Comeau said.

Chapters by leading experts include discussions of the following specific questions:
  • What are the trends in wages, work, occupations, and economic resources — the "material circumstances" of low-income workers — and what are their implications for economic mobility?
  • How effective are the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and welfare reform in improving the lives of single women with children?
  • How well do education retention programs work in meeting the needs of low-income adults?
  • What are the shortcomings of financial aid policies in serving non-traditional students, and how can policies be altered to better serve them?
  • How effective are residential mobility programs?
  • How effective are various workforce investment programs in linking workers to work and to greater economic opportunities?
  • How well do correctional programs work in helping ex-offenders re-enter the labor market?
  • In evaluating community-based programs and services, what should practitioners know about the limits of such evaluation, and what should they do?
"It is well known that inequality in economic outcomes has increased in recent decades," Toussaint-Comeau explained. "Those at the lower end of the spectrum, with less education and fewer job skills have limited opportunities for economic mobility. These people may be working, but nonetheless they remain poor."

For more information about the book or to arrange an interview with Toussaint-Comeau, contact Laura LaBarbera at (312) 322-2387 or at laura.labarbera@chi.frb.org.

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Background

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the nation's central bank. The Chicago Reserve Bank serves the seventh Federal Reserve District, which encompasses the northern portions of Illinois and Indiana, southern Wisconsin, the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, and all of Iowa. In addition to participation in the formulation of monetary policy, each Reserve Bank supervises member banks and bank holding companies, provides financial services to depository institutions and the U.S. government, and monitors economic conditions in its District.