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Professor wins grant to explore ways to improve Social Security

August 26, 2008

Pamela Herd of the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has won a $30,000 Rockefeller Foundation Innovation Award to Strengthen Social Security for Vulnerable Groups.

She will use the award to develop a proposal to improve Social Security benefits for older low-income women who raised children. “Many women end up poor in old age, in part, due to the time and energy they devoted to raising children as opposed to participating in paid labor,” Herd says. “Most other countries reward women for this work. The U.S. does not do so.”

Herd is an assistant professor of public affairs and sociology. Her research examines the effects of Medicare and Social Security on gender, race and class, and the relationship between socioeconomic status and health.

Selected by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), Herd and 11 other recipients from across the United States will meet this fall to discuss their proposals. An advisory committee of NASI experts selected the 12 policy scholars after thorough review of a large number of proposals. The 12 are from disciplines such as political science, law, actuarial science, sociology, social work and economics. Their final papers will identify specific ways to improve Social Security for a range of vulnerable groups.

Herd co-authored the 2007 book “Market Friendly or Family Friendly? The State and Gender Inequality in Old Age” with Madonna Harrington Meyer. The book is part of the American Sociological Association’s Rose Series on Public Policy. Herd is also author of numerous articles and chapters that have appeared in “Social Forces,” “Gender and Society,” “The Gerontologist,” “Journal of Aging and Social Policy” and the “Blackwell Companion to Sociology.”