Tax Policy Center



Martin D. Abravanel

Senior Research Associate

In No Good Applied Social Research Goes Unpunished, eminent sociologist Peter Rossi observed, ‘I have continued to do applied social research even though my work has often been controversial and greeted with little applause and sometimes even strong criticism.’ Applied researchers learn over time there may be little tolerance among peers, funders, or advocates for research producing controversial or contrary findings. They also learn that in the policy arena, evidence often does not matter. Therefore, it is refreshing to be associated with an organization like Urban, which can boast a long and distinguished tradition of valuing rigorous, independent, and objective research and program evaluation and of standing behind the findings that follow thereon.

Social Media


Martin Abravanel is a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where he has designed and directed various research and evaluation projects covering low-income housing programs; community development and revitalization programs; the fair housing law; and performance measurement—the latter including studies of customer satisfaction as well as national service. Abravanel chairs Urban’s Institutional Review Board, charged with reviewing all of Urban’s research projects for human subjects’ protections. He is also a member of MDRC’s Institutional Review Board.

Abravanel has conducted research supported by federal government agencies as well as private foundations. Included are the US Department of the Treasury’s New Markets Tax Credit program; the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) housing choice voucher, HOPE VI public housing, and Moving to Work programs; and the Corporation for National and Community Service’s performance measurement system. He directed a series of innovative surveys of the general public’s knowledge, support, and use of federal fair housing law; and of HUD’s key implementation partners, assessing their satisfaction with the department’s performance. He prepared a guide for nonprofit organizations on how to survey their clients about outcomes.

Before joining Urban in 1997, Abravanel directed the Division of Policy Studies at HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research. In that capacity, he supervised an in-house team of senior social science research analysts, studying a range of individual and cross cutting program and policy issues.

He received his PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.