Livable Lives: Achieving Basic Conditions for Family Stability and Development

At a Brown School faculty retreat in 2007, Michael Sherraden suggested a multidisciplinary project called “Livable Lives." The focus would be on basic conditions for achieving stability and development in households and communities. The Center for Social Development has led in developing and supporting the Livable Lives initiative on the Washington University campus. 

The universitywide Livable Lives initiative investigates what social conditions and policy supports can make life with a low or moderate income stable, secure, satisfying, and successful.  In particular, the initiative see​ks to foster research from a wide range of academic disciplines that:

  • Documents conditions that may inhibit or promote the achievement of livable lives
  • Formulates and tests innovations
  • Informs policies and practices that may lead to more livable lives
  • Studies impacts of these policies and practices

As a first step, a competitive Livable Lives RFP process launched in August 2009 invited University faculty to propose projects that move forward the thinking, research, advocacy and policy associated with achieving livable lives. With the support of the Ford Foundation and guided by CSD, the Livable Lives initiative awarded eight grants to faculty across Washington University in November 2009. 

In 2012, led by Marion Crain at the Law School and Michael Sherraden at the Brown School, the Livable Lives initiative hosted a national conference on employment issues and policies. This conference led to the book Working and Living in the Shadow of Economic Fragility edited by Crain and Sherraden and published by Oxford University Press in 2014.

In 2015, CSD organized a Livable Lives national conference on inclusive housing, led by Molly Metzger in the Brown School and Hank Webber, vice chancellor for administration at Washington University. Conference papers are now being revised for book publication. 

Future work will include additional research studies and national conferences. The aim is to build a large body of work that informs local programs as well as state and federal policies in economic security, employment, public health, education, housing and other key areas. 


​Faculty Directors 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Marion Crain
Steven Fazzari