DegreeEconomics and English ’20
This project shed light on a lot of aspects of welfare policy for me. I think people tend to picture “welfare” as this monolithic, singular government force that dishes out cash and food stamps, rather than the highly complex social safety net that it is. I also learned quite a lot about tax expenditures, and how they have become a kind of welfare in their own right. For instance, I had no idea that the EITC provides much more cash to low-income households than TANF does. Those types of distinctions simply did not occur to me.
What was most surprising, however, was the present state of US housing policy. The fact that only 25% of households that are eligible for housing assistance actually receive it is appalling, especially considering the billions of dollars we spend on upper-middle and upper class homes through the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction. This to me jumped out as the most troubling finding in our research.
Finally, this project exposed me to actual policy research, a field that I hope to go into in the future. The idea that research I performed and numbers I calculated contributed to a body of work that could affect actual policymakers is simultaneously really cool and somewhat terrifying.