Livable Lives Initiative

Livable Lives

The university-wide 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 seeks to foster research from a wide range of academic disciplines that pursues the following goals:

  • 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.

The Livable Lives Initiative started at Washington University’s George Warren Brown School of Social Work, with a vision of developing a multidisciplinary, university-wide project. A competitive 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 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,  resulting in the book Facing Segregation: Housing Policy Solutions for a Stronger Society. 

Our 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. 

Funding Partner: Ford Foundation

Principal Investigators

Michael Sherraden

Michael Sherraden

CSD Founding Director,
George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor

Margaret Sherraden

Margaret Sherraden

CSD Research Professor; Washington University in St. Louis​
Financial Capability: Combining Access and Abilities,
Civic Service and Engagement


Lissa Johnson

Lissa Johnson

CSD Associate Director; Director of Administration and Research;
Co-Director Financial Capability and Asset Building