2017 NCFR Plenary Speaker: Lee Badgett

Title: "Controversial Contributions: Calculating the Economic Benefits of Families"
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Lee Badgett
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Session sponsored by the University of Maryland


Lee Badgett, Ph.D., is a professor of economics and former director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Williams Distinguished Scholar at UCLA’s Williams Institute.

The contributions of families are built into the fabric of the economy, even when they’re not always visible. In addition to producing and reproducing the workforce, families are a visible hub of consumption and play a crucial role in investment. But that is only part of what families do. 

One way to see some of the less visible contributions is to look for “low-hanging fruit,” or policy and social innovations that reveal ways to enhance what families can contribute to the economy. For example, the marriage equality movement shows the economic potential that comes from broadening the social and legal definitions of families. Reducing intimate partner violence is a way that families can function better and contribute more to the economy.  And while the price tag for paid family leave gets most of the attention, the potential benefits are real, both for society and for businesses.  Getting better at identifying these benefits can help family scholars contribute to policy debates related to families.

Dr. Badgett's plenary session will take place Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, from 10-11:45 a.m. Eastern.

Participants will:

  • Understand why valuing benefits of families might matter
  • Learn the basics about calculating benefits
  • Hear some examples

Additional Special Session

Dr. Badgett also will present a conference special session Thursday from 1:45-3 p.m. Thursday: "Going Public: How Family Researchers Can Engage with the Public and Policymakers" 

During this special session, she will offer strategies for family researchers to use their ideas, research, and knowledge to change the world. She will draw on the practices of successful public professors: seeing the big picture, networking widely, and communicating with diverse audiences. Two interactive exercises will get participants on their way to more effective public engagement. This information will be useful for faculty at all stages, as well as for graduate students and post-docs.

Participants will:

  • Learn the core strategies of successful public professors
  • Try a mapping tool to identify opportunities for fruitful networking
  • Practice an elevator speech and learning some communications basics

About the Presenter

M. V. Lee Badgett, Ph.D., is a professor of economics and former director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is also a Williams Distinguished Scholar at UCLA’s Williams Institute and was the Institute’s first Research Director. Badgett received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California-Berkeley in 1990, and has a BA in economics from the University of Chicago. Her current research focuses on poverty in the LGBT community, employment discrimination against LGBT people, and the cost of homophobia and transphobia in global economies. Her newest book is The Public Professor:  How to Use Your Research to Change the World. Her book, When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage, reported the positive U.S. and European experiences with marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Her first book, Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men, presented her groundbreaking work debunking the myth of gay affluence. Prof. Badgett’s work includes testifying as an expert witness in legislative matters and litigation (including as an expert witness in California’s Prop 8 case), consulting with development agencies (World Bank, UNDP, USAID), analyzing public policies, consulting with regulatory bodies, briefing policymakers, writing op-ed pieces, speaking with journalists, and advising businesses.