Isabel V. Sawhill

Isabel V. Sawhill is a senior fellow emeritus in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. Dr. Sawhill’s research spans a wide array of economic and social issues, including fiscal policy, economic growth, poverty, social mobility, and inequality.

She served as vice president and director of the Economic Studies program from 2003 to 2006, and as co-director of the Center on Children and Families from 2006 to 2015. Prior to joining Brookings, Dr. Sawhill was a senior fellow at The Urban Institute. She served in the Clinton Administration as an Associate Director of OMB, where her responsibilities included all of the human resource programs of the federal government, accounting for one third of the federal budget.

Dr. Sawhill has authored or edited numerous books, including The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation (2018); Generation Unbound: Drifting Into Sex and Parenthood Without Marriage (2014); Creating an Opportunity Society (2009, with Ron Haskins); Restoring Fiscal Sanity 2005: Meeting the Long-Run Challenge and Restoring Fiscal Sanity: How to Balance the Budget (2004), (both with Alice Rivlin); and One Percent for the Kids: New Policies, Brighter Futures for America’s Children (2003).

In September of 2020, along with co-author Richard V. Reeves, Dr. Sawhill released her latest work, entitled A New Contract with the Middle Class.

Sawhill was a recipient of the Exemplar Award from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (2014) and the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize with Ron Haskins, from the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2016). She was named a Distinguished Fellow by the American Economic Association in 2016.

Dr. Sawhill has been a Visiting Professor at Georgetown Law School, Director of the National Commission for Employment Policy, and President of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. She also serves on a number of boards.

She attended Wellesley College and received her Ph.D. from New York University.

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Read Belle Sawhill’s essay, “What the forgotten Americans really want—and how to give it to them”»

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Children
    • education
    • federal budget
    • poverty and inequality
    • social welfare policy
    • teen pregnancy
  • Current Positions

    • President, National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy
    • Senior Editor, The Future of Children
  • Past Positions

    • Senior Fellow, Urban Institute
    • Associate Director, Office of Management and Budget (1993-95)
    • Visiting Professor, Georgetown University Law School
    • Director, National Commission for Employment Policy
    • President, Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
  • Education

    • Ph.D. (1968), B.A. (1962), New York University
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