Lisa Gennetian portrait

Lisa Gennetian

Lisa Gennetian sees the nation’s child poverty dilemma not as a dead end but as a problem in need of a new approach.

Gennetian is an applied economist in Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy whose work largely focuses on the economics of child poverty – particularly in the Latino community. She has a deep understanding of the problems facing struggling families, and new ideas about how government can provide resources to help.

She argues that, moving forward, these resources need change and adaptation. As she wrote in a 2023 commentary in The Messenger: “To lift children out of poverty, we need an updated blueprint for policy conversations that builds on employment, two-parent households and safety nets to mobilize families to escape poverty.”

Gennetian earned her doctorate in economics from Cornell University and is the Pritzker Professor of Early Learning Studies at Duke, where she taps into behavioral economics principles to design strategies for parents and families to lift them out of poverty. She is also a lead investigator at the National Center for Research on Hispanic Families and Children.

She argues for changes to the tax code to better support working two-parent families. One good example, she says, was the 2021 expansion of the child tax credit, through which many low-income, two-parent, dual-earner households became eligible for a tax refund that wealthier families already benefited from.

But there’s so much more to do, she argues, including raising wages, investing in childcare and other family-friendly services, and generally broadening the reach of national social safety net programs that have traditionally been beyond the reach of Latinos.

The return on these investments, Gennetian argues, would benefit us all.