CPI Research Overview

The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality (CPI) prioritizes bold and innovative studies, interventions, and collaborations. Our research is not business-as-usual! The distinctive CPI research program emphasizes:

Constructing new types of datasets to solve today's problems.

 If we're going to take on the new problems of the 21st century, we need new data that better capture poverty and inequality dynamics. That includes— 

  • Building a new qualitative and mixed methods dataset to detect emerging crises, monitor the social health of the country, and create a new "open science" form of qualitative analysis
  • Assembling a new social network dataset to examine social interactions and the structure of America's neighborhoods 
  • Linking administrative tax and program data to understand social mobility, measure poverty, and quantify policy impacts

Building more powerful poverty and inequality measures. 

The ways we monitor inequality and poverty also need updating. If you can't measure it, you can't change it. CPI is working hard to help with that by—

  • Developing improved measures of poverty based on linked Census and administrative data
  • Using linked tax and Census data to construct better measures of social mobility
  • Building new measures of segregation and interaction based on "big data"

Developing and testing bold approaches to reducing poverty and inequality.

 The poverty and inequality challenges that the U.S. is facing are unprecedented – and it's important to build and test bold new approaches to taking them on. This work includes— 

  • Building and testing innovations for a cash-based safety net that establishes income and wealth floors
  • Examining new approaches to increasing homeownership and reducing wealth inequality
  • Developing and modeling powerful new combinations of upstream ("predistributional") and downstream ("redistributional") interventions to address and prevent poverty and inequality 

Collaborating within and beyond Stanford.

 The many challenges of our time can't be solved without interdisciplinary teams and strategic partnerships. These include— 

  • Partnering with Stanford faculty across many departments and disciplines, with other university researchers within the U.S. and globally, and with leading research organizations – like Opportunity Insights, the Federal Reserve Banks, and the New School Institute for Race, Power, and Political Economy – on research and evaluation projects
  • Mentoring and collaborating with graduate and undergraduate research fellows and predoctoral and postdoctoral scholars
  • Working with leading government agencies – like the Census Bureau, the California Department of Social Services, and county social service agencies – to improve the country's data infrastructure and to evaluate policies and programs – and collaborating with community leaders – like End Poverty in California (EPIC) and Ending Child Poverty in California – to design and test better interventions
  • Partnering with some of the country’s top foundations – including the Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Elfenworks Foundation, and many more – to roll out bold new initiatives


CPI Research Labs

The Center's current areas of research are grouped into nine research labs. These labs are building out some of the most promising areas of study and opportunities for intervention:

Economic Inclusion Lab – Studying innovative cash-based interventions – including guaranteed income and baby bonds – to understand their promise for building a more inclusive economy

Social Mobility Lab – Exploring patterns and drivers of social mobility using linked administrative and survey data

Voices Lab – Developing an innovative data collection platform for qualitative and mixed-methods research within the U.S. and globally

California Lab – Developing and testing new measurement tools and interventions in a state that’s committed to bold approaches to taking on poverty, inequality, and homelessness

Social Networks Lab – Using big data to understand interactions within social networks and neighborhoods and to develop new interventions to reduce segregation

Noxious Contracts Lab – Investigating the prevalence of “noxious” employment contracts that oblige workers to accept high-risk working conditions

Tax Policy Lab – Examining the reach and impact of refundable tax credits for low-income households and behavioral responses to tax rate increases (such as “millionaire migration”)

Housing & Homelessness Lab – Identifying and evaluating high-return policies and practices to address homelessness, housing affordability, and access to homeownership

Early Childhood Lab – Evaluating and identifying promising evidence-based early childhood interventions