Kathryn Edin, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University, is one of the nation’s leading poverty researchers. The hallmark of her research is her direct, in-depth observations of the lives of low-income women and men. Edin is particularly interested in questions about the urban poor that have not been fully answered by quantitative work: How do single mothers possibly survive on welfare? Why do they end up as single mothers in the first place? Where are the fathers and why do they disengage from their children’s lives?
Her most recent book, written with Stefanie A. Deluca, is entitled Coming of Age in the Other America (Russel Sage Foundation 2016). The book challenges long-held myths about inner-city youth and shows how the process of “social reproduction”—where children end up stuck in the same place as their parents—is far from inevitable. Similarly, Edin’s $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015) illuminates the failure of the labor market to deliver a living wage and explores survival strategies among the extreme poor. In Doing the Best I Can: Fathering in the Inner City (University of California Press 2013), written with Timothy Nelson, Edin shows how mammoth economic and cultural changes have transformed the meaning of fatherhood among the urban poor. Her book Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage (University of California Press 2005), written with Maria Kefalas, sought to answer the question of why so many low-income women were having children without marrying. They found that, rather than undervaluing marriage, childrearing was central to the lives of low-income women and that they were unwilling to postpone starting families until they could find suitable husbands.
In addition to Johns Hopkins, Edin has also taught at Rutgers University, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and at Harvard University as a Professor of Public Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy School and chair of their Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy.
A frequent commentator for print and broadcast media, Dr. Edin has also testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on welfare and marriage issues. She is a Trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation, and a member of ASPE’s Self Sufficiency Working Group. She serves on the Department of Health and Human Services advisory committee for the poverty research centers at Michigan, Wisconsin, and Stanford. She is a founding member of the MacArthur Foundation-funded Network on Housing and Families with Young Children and a past member of the MacArthur Network on the Family and the Economy. Edin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.