News Release

The Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution Appoints Tara Watson as New Director

January 9, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Brookings Rubenstein Fellow Tara Watson has been appointed director of the Center on Children and Families in Economic Studies.  

Watson is a Rubenstein Fellow with the Economic Studies program, a professor of economics at Williams College, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and a co-editor of the Journal of Human Resources. Previously, she was deputy assistant secretary for microeconomic analysis in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Economic Policy, a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan, a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and a research associate at the Princeton Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. Her work focuses on U.S. social policy, including the safety net, health, and immigration. She is the co-author of, “The Border Within: The Economics of Immigration in an Age of Fear.”  

Announcing the news, Isabel Sawhill, one of the founders of the Center on Children and Families along with Senior Fellow Emeritus Ron Haskins, said, “Tara Watson has a distinguished academic career, has served in government, and has expertise in several of the most pressing issues facing the country from immigration to health care and the future of the safety net. She will be a terrific director who will chart a new future for the center.”  

Commenting on the appointment, Richard Reeves, former director of the Center on Children and Families and a senior fellow in the Economic Studies program, said, “The lines between economic and social policy are now more blurred than ever. The Center on Children and Families has a storied history working at this intersection, and Tara is exactly the right person to take this work forward and set a new agenda for building an opportunity society.” 

The Center on Children and Families studies policies that affect the well-being of America’s children and their parents, especially children in less advantaged families. The Center addresses the issues of poverty, inequality, and lack of opportunity in the United States and seeks to find more effective means of addressing these problems.

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