Laudan Aron

Co-Director
Organization: Urban Institute

Laudan (Laudy) Aron, MA, is a Senior Fellow with the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center and co-directs Urban’s cross-center initiative on the Social Determinants of Health. She directed the groundbreaking 2013 study, Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, for the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. That study documented a large and growing US “health disadvantage” affecting almost all Americans. Laudy first joined Urban in 1992 and has spent over 25 years conducting research and policy analysis on a wide range of social welfare issues, including health and disability, education, employment and training, housing and homelessness, and social protection and justice. Her work focuses on how social and economic conditions shape health and well-being, and how social welfare programs and policies (broadly defined) can best support healthy human development across the life course and over time and place.

  • The health and well-being of people are intimately tied to the conditions of life in their communities—conditions that structure opportunities and pathways for lifelong and even inter-generational well-being. Philanthropic efforts to improve community health must attend to the many systems that shape life conditions by focusing not only on whom, what, or where to fund, but equally importantly, on how to fund. The Urban Institute’s recent comprehensive review of health-focused community development investments made by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation between 2013 and 2019 yielded a wide range of insights about how philanthropic investments can drive enduring systems change needed to improve community health, well-being, and equity across the nation.

    October 1, 2021
  • Since the early 1990s, Medicaid has been critical in providing insurance coverage for pregnant women with low incomes in the United States - pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage is available to women with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level in most states. Because pregnancy-related Medicaid eligibility is almost always more generous than eligibility for other adults, many women with low incomes not otherwise eligible for Medicaid gain coverage during their pregnancies but then lose that coverage sixty days after delivery, when their pregnancy-related eligibility expires. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 included an option for states to extend Medicaid coverage for twelve months postpartum. While the ACA provided coverage improvements for pregnant women outside of pregnancy, especially in states expanding Medicaid, many low-income women remain uninsured before or after their pregnancies. Building on existing studies tracking changes in Medicaid coverage and uninsurance under the law, researchers Emily M. Johnston, Stacey McMorrow, Clara Alvarez Caraveo and Lisa Dubay examined data for new mothers with Medicaid-covered prenatal care in this study published in Health Affairs.

    April 5, 2021
  • Two pandemics upended our nation this year. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to sicken, kill, and reshape the lives of people everywhere, and is also testing our nation’s healthcare, public health, education, and social protection systems like never before. The second pandemic is one that has been with us since well before our nation’s founding but has come into much sharper focus this past year. Like a virus, it has infected virtually every aspect of our society including our laws and policies, a central focus of the Policies for Action (P4A) research program: systemic racism and its attendant social, economic, and political injustices. Although this time last year, the need for sound policy research was clear – especially in light of growing inequality in health and wealth, and the conditions that drive and are shaped by these – 2020 made these needs more visible and more urgent. As P4A enters its sixth year, a strong and growing community of policy researchers across the country, supported by a stellar National Advisory Committee, are generating a host of research findings crucially needed at this moment.

    January 29, 2021
  • The advent of just-in-time scheduling technology and practices in the mid-1990s has led to increased schedule instability, resulting in a growing movement to address the need for predictable, stable schedules for workers paid low wages. Unstable schedules have been associated with earnings instability, increased stress and fatigue, sleep irregularity, and worse mental health outcomes for workers.  In this report, P4A researchers Amelia Coffey, Eleanor Lauderback and H. Elizabeth Peters, along with their partners at the University of Oregon’s Department of Sociology Lola Loustaunau, Larissa Petrucci, Ellen Scott and Lina Stepick, examine Oregon’s implementation of S.B. 828, the first statewide predictive scheduling law in the nation, in its first year.

    September 22, 2020
  • The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one of the largest safety net programs in the United States. In 2019, the EITC reached 25 million tax filers at a total cost of $63 billion. Using variation in the federal and state EITC, Breno Braga, Fredric Blavin and Anuj Gangopadhyaya evaluated the long-term impact of EITC exposure during childhood on the health of young adults.

    September 14, 2020
  • Policies for Action is entering its fifth year with a growing community of researchers across the country and a maturing pipeline of research to support critical policy development. Find out how we're expanding the quality and reach of our work in 2020.

    January 31, 2020
  • While Earned Income Tax Credit expansions are typically associated with improvements in maternal mental health, little is known about the mechanisms through which the program affects this outcome. Anuj Gangopadhyaya, Fredric Blavin, Jason Gates, and Breno Braga of the Urban Institute assess the impact of more than two decades of federal expansions in EITC credits and the implementation of state-specific EITC programs on maternal mental health in a new working paper.

    June 29, 2019
  • Last week, an editorial on the decline in US life expectancy, authored by P4A codirector Laudan Aron and Stephen Woolf, director of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, was published in the British Medical Journal.

    February 13, 2018
  • Five years ago, a groundbreaking report showed people in the US in worse health and dying younger than those in other rich nations. Today, despite the alarm the report generated, we learned that life expectancy in the country declined for a second year in a row – astonishing by any standard.

    January 16, 2018