Robert D. Plotnick

Daniel J. Evans Professor of Public Affairs
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley
(206) 685-2055


Robert D. Plotnick is the Daniel J. Evans Professor of Public Affairs and Associate Dean of the Evans School. He joined the School in 1984, after previously serving on the faculties of Bates College (1975-77) and Dartmouth College (1977-84). Plotnick also holds appointments as Adjunct Professor in the University of Washington's Department of Economics and as a Research Affiliate with UW’s Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology and West Coast Poverty Center, and with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin. He directed the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology from 1997-02.

Plotnick’s research addresses American poverty, income inequality, income support policy, and related social policy issues. His current research, in collaboration with Washington State’s Division of Child Support, is using field experiments to test the effectiveness of new approaches to collecting support payments.  He also is working with a team of colleagues on an evaluation of Seattle's new minimum wage ordinance.

Plotnick has authored numerous publications, including Old Assumptions, New Realities: Ensuring Economic Security for Working Families in the 21st Century (Russell Sage Foundation, 2011), peer review journal articles in the fields of demography, economics, gerontology, political science, public policy, social work, and sociology, and two National Research Council reports. His research has received support from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Russell Sage Foundation, and other sources.

Plotnick serves as a reviewer for many academic journals as well as academic presses and grant-making organizations. He is a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences and a former vice-president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. Plotnick has been a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, Cornell University, the University of New South Wales and the London School of Economics.

Professor Plotnick holds a Ph.D. and MA in Economics from University of California, Berkeley, and BA in Mathematics from Princeton University.

Areas of specialization 

Anti-Poverty Policy
Benefit-Cost Analysis
Income and Social Inequality
Labor Economics
Social Demography
Social Welfare Policy

Recent Publications 

  • Increasing child support collections from the hard to collect: Experimental evidence from Washington State, (with Asaph Glosser, M. Kathleen Moore and Emmi Obara) Social Service Review, forthcoming.
  • Preventing reoffending, and Appendix A: Costs and benefits of juvenile justice interventions (contributing author) in  Juvenile Justice Reform: A Developmental Approach, Richard Bonnie, Betty Chemers and Julie Schuck (Eds.), Washington DC: National Academy Press, 2013
  • How has the economic downturn affected communities in the randomized trial of Communities That Care? (with Margaret R. Kuklinski, J. David Hawkins, Robert D. Abbott, and Carolina K. Reid) American Journal of Community Psychology, 51(3), June 2013, 370-384
  • The alleviation of poverty: How far have we come? Pp. 15-48 in the Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Poverty Philip N. Jefferson (ed.) New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • A geography-specific approach to estimating the distributional impact of highway tolls: An application to the Puget Sound region of Washington State, (with Jennifer Romich, Jennifer Thacker and Matthew Dunbar) Journal of Urban Affairs, 2011, 33(3), 345–366.
  • Old Assumptions, New Realities: Ensuring Economic Security for Working Families in the 21st Century.  Edited by Robert D. Plotnick, Marcia K. Meyers, Jennifer Romich, and Steven Rathgeb Smith. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2011

Professional service 

  • Task Force on Economic Analyses of Prevention, Society for Prevention Research
  • Washington State Child Support Schedule Workgroup, Member
  • Washington State Academy of Sciences, Member

Courses taught 

  • PBAF 516: Economics for Policy Analysis and Management, 1
  • PBAF 576: Poverty and Anti-Poverty Policy
  • PPM 510:  Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation

Learn about Professor Plotnick's current research.