West Coast Poverty Center

NEWS: Minimum Wage Increases: What Does the Research Show?

With Washington poised to vote on Initiative 433 this month, more eyes are turning to research on the impact of raising the minimum wage. Mark Long, WCPC Affiliate and UW Professor of Public Policy, co-authored a recent study on Seattle’s experiments with such legislation. He helped qualify the findings with the Yakima Herald recently. Read the article HERE.


New Research

FLASH: A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor

Over the past two decades, states have been charging those convicted of felonies a growing list of fines, user fees, and restitution to victims as part of their sentences. Even after they serve their time in prison, individuals remain under court supervision until these legal debts are paid in full. In A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor, WCPC Affiliate and Professor of Sociology Alexes Harris explores the increasing prevalence, application, and implications of court-ordered monetary sanctions for felony convictions in state courts. Learn what she found, including how these fees and the system they're embedded within function to perpetually punish already marginalized individuals  HERE.

DIALOGUE: Class, Race/Ethnicity, and Military Service in the Recent Wars

In this DIALOGUE, we explore the socioeconomics of recruitment and service in the military. We build on research by Washington State University Associate Professor Alair MacLean that asked whether the men who served during the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan came disproportionately from minority and low-income families. In brief, Dr. MacLean found no evidence that the poor or minorities had been enlisting disproportionately during the recent wars. However, she found that individuals from families at the top of the income distribution were less likely than their peers to enlist in the years immediately following high school, suggesting a de facto “wealth exemption.” The WCPC invited five practitioners and policy experts to discuss Professor MacLean’s work and its implications. The research findings resonated with these practitioners and stimulated further discussion about socioeconomic differences, race/ethnicity, and recruitment issues in the military. Read more about this dialogue here.

UW’S West Coast Poverty Center Named Partner in New National Poverty Center Collaborative

The West Coast Poverty Center is among partners in a newly formed Collaborative of U.S. Poverty Centers.

The initiative is headed by the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the nation’s longest-standing center for poverty research, and funded by a five-year cooperative agreement from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), the principal advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on development of policy and legislation, strategic planning, policy research and evaluation, and economic analysis.

The collaborative aims to establish a sustainable, nationwide infrastructure to facilitate the exchange of applied poverty-policy research ideas and findings among the nation’s top scholars, policymakers and practitioners. It will provide research, training, and dissemination activities focused on producing and promoting evidence to increase the effectiveness of public policies to reduce poverty and inequality and their consequences. Founding partners also include the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, the Center on Race and Wealth at Howard University and the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research. 

The West Coast Poverty Center works to bridge gaps between anti-poverty research, practice and policy by connecting scholars, policymakers and practitioners; facilitating important social policy research; magnifying the reach of new knowledge; and fostering the next generation of anti-poverty scholars. At the UW, the center mentors and supports the next generation of poverty scholars and practitioners through its ongoing research seminar and by brokering awards and research opportunities for faculty and students. Beyond the university, the center works to bring poverty-relevant knowledge to policymakers and practitioners and to engage researchers and practitioners in dialogue through outreach, communications and events.

Founded in 2005 as an interdisciplinary effort, the center receives ongoing support from the UW School of Social Work, and its 45 faculty affiliates draw from multiple UW units including the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Public Health and the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. 

“We are pleased that the University of Washington will be part of this new national collaborative focused on creating and applying new knowledge,” said Jennifer Romich, the center’s director. “The West Coast Poverty Center is honored to support and share the work of anti-poverty scholars, practitioners and policymakers in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.”

Lawrence Berger, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty, said, “We look forward to continuing to work closely with ASPE, other federal agencies, and our CUSPC partners … in producing and using research evidence to improve the lives of Americans who are struggling to


Affiliate News

NEWS: 20 years after welfare reform, 'deep poverty' worse in Washington

WCPC center director, Jennie Romich, speaks with KUOW about what 20 years of welfare reform has meant for Washington families. While there are less poor families currently on welfare than there were 20 years ago, the number of families living in deep poverty in Washington state has gone up dramatically. Romich states, "If the concern is the financial well-being of poor families, it has not been a success. Read the article HERE.