Tax Policy Center



Melissa M. Favreault

Senior Fellow

I was drawn to Urban because of its rich history of rigorously examining social problems and policy options using innovative methods like distributional models and audit studies. Our distributional analyses attempt to answer ‘what if?’ questions about social programs, including Medicare and Social Security. Our models can help reveal the cumulative effects that differences in early-life opportunities have in shaping treatment in later life. If we can better understand how advantages and disadvantages compound, we may be able to develop stronger policies.

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Melissa Favreault is a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where her work focuses on the economic well-being and health status of older Americans and individuals with disabilities. She also analyzes long-term care needs and the distributional effects of Medicare and Medicaid. Her work in this area has focused on how changes in family structure and work/earnings patterns affect economic well-being in retirement, with a special emphasis on effects for women and lower-wage workers. For this research, she has often relied on dynamic microsimulation models. She has helped develop these types of models for both Urban and the Social Security Administration.

Favreault coedited Social Security and the Family: Addressing Unmet Needs in an Underfunded System with Frank Sammartino and C. Eugene Steuerle, and has written extensively about the distributional effects of proposed changes to Social Security. She served on the Social Security Advisory Board’s 2011 Technical Panel on Assumptions and Methods.

Favreault earned her BA in political science and Russian from Amherst College, and her MA and PhD in sociology from Cornell University.

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