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Wilson To Give NIH Director's Lecture, May 16 in Masur

Dr. William Julius Wilson will give the NIH Director's Lecture as part of the Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series on May 16, at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. He will speak on "Welfare, Children and Families: The Impact of Welfare Reform in the New Economy."

Dr. William Julius Wilson

Wilson is the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser university professor at Harvard University and director of the Joblessness and Urban Poverty Research Program at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has been in the vanguard of the study of the roots of many problems found in inner-city African-American neighborhoods including crime, family dissolution and reliance on welfare. His work has examined the impact of high neighborhood joblessness rates (in some cases, over 60 percent of adults in the neighborhood without jobs) and the devastating consequences for the residents of these communities and larger society. His findings have been widely used to inform public policy in several administrations. Wilson asserts that joblessness, or the absence of adults with jobs, in a community has a far greater effect on a community than poverty.

In his lecture on May 16, he will examine the recent impact of welfare reform in the United States within a larger international context. The passage of the welfare reform bill in 1996 set the stage for an unprecedented national experiment, and disastrous consequences were predicted. However, welfare caseloads have plummeted; child poverty has declined; and the nation's safety net has not been removed. Thanks to the robust economy in the second half of the 1990s, the timing of the welfare reform bill could not have been better. Overall, the economic gains of low-wage workers during this period have been significant. Accordingly, Wilson will address questions about the impact of the robust economy on these positive outcomes and the claims that welfare reform has been a success. He will present findings on the characteristics of families that have been sanctioned for not following welfare rules, and on the experiences and challenges of the families who have left the welfare rolls. Given these findings, he will then reflect on the possible consequences of an economic slowdown and also address the policy implications suggested by economic changes.

Wilson has received major national and international awards including election to the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He is also a past president of the American Sociological Association and is a MacArthur Prize fellow. In 1998, he was awarded the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor in the U.S. He is the author of numerous publications, including the books The Declining Significance of Race, The Truly Disadvantaged, and When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor.

For information and reasonable accommodation, contact Hilda Madine, 594-5595.

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