Gregory Mills

Gregory Mills, Senior Fellow in the Center for Labor, Human Services, and Population, brings more than thirty years of experience in conducting policy analysis and evaluation research on programs to promote the economic mobility of low-income households. His work has focused on wide-ranging program areas that include asset-building, housing assistance, nutritional support, child support, and community development. Having recently rejoined the Urban Institute (where he worked in the 1980s), Dr. Mills held previous positions at Abt Associates, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Economic Affairs, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation). He has directed many experimental and quasi-experimental studies using survey data and administrative records to estimate the effects of programs on participating households. These projects include large-scale, multi-year randomized studies of individual development accounts, housing vouchers, and homeownership counseling. These evaluations typically combine impact estimation with process studies focusing on qualitative dimensions of agency implementation and participant experience. Dr. Mills received his Ph.D. in Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


Churn among food stamp participants has costs for clients and agencies

By Gregory Mills  ::  December 22nd, 2014

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) is effective at improving the food security of low-income households and providing some stability in their lives—that is, until they lose benefits because of an administrative hassle and have to reapply. This on-again, off-again scenario is a very real problem for the program. The USDA calls […]

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Middle-income households are turning to high-cost nonbank loans

By Gregory Mills  ::  July 17th, 2013

A consequence of the Great Recession and the sluggish recovery has been the rising use of nonbank credit products such as payday loans, pawnshop loans, rent-to-own agreements, and refund anticipation loans. A disturbing underlying trend is that many of the consumers using such short-term, high-interest loans are first-time users and have characteristics normally associated with […]

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Changing SNAP benefit rules won't contain growth

By Gregory Mills  ::  June 14th, 2013

Under the banner of “federal agriculture reform and risk management,” the House Agriculture Committee passed its 2013 Farm Bill on May 13. More than half of the bill’s spending cuts come from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Although SNAP critics regularly lament the growth in the program caseload, this provision of […]

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Applying Big Data Solutions to Big Social Problems

By Gregory Mills  ::  May 6th, 2013

    Los Angeles has now synchronized all 4,500 traffic signals across the city’s 469 square miles. It’s the first major city worldwide to achieve this feat, using magnetic sensors at every intersection; cameras; and a central computer system that monitors cars, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians. These innovations have increased the average speed of traffic […]

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Let the Borrower Beware: Facing the Facts about Payday Loans and Pawnshops

By Gregory Mills  ::  March 11th, 2013

Payday loans are making headlines again. A new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts mentions the plight of payday borrowers whose repayments lead to checking account overdrafts and a compounding of fees and charges. A New York Times article has noted that major banks have played a role in the growth of internet payday lending […]

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Tax-Time Savings Initiatives: Rethinking Program Design

By Gregory Mills  ::  February 6th, 2013

As we plunge headlong into tax filing season, let’s pause to reflect on tax-time savings initiatives—a major focus of asset-building efforts over the past decade. Through a growing number of innovative programs, low-income tax filers are encouraged to save part of their lump-sum tax refund, which they derive primarily from the earned income tax credit […]

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Urban-Rural Trends in SNAP Participation: What's Going On?

By Gregory Mills  ::  January 7th, 2013

The average monthly number of recipients in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) reached 46.6 million, or about one in every six Americans, in FY 2012, according to the most recent USDA data. The weak economy was principally responsible, as the 2007-2009 downturn and slow recovery increased the pool of eligible recipients […]

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Taking a closer look at the Census poverty numbers: Trends among Hispanics

By Gregory Mills  ::  September 20th, 2012

One bright spot in the Census Bureau’s recent poverty report was the significant reduction in the poverty rate for Hispanics, down from 26.5 percent in 2010 to 25.3 percent in 2011. Despite this progress, the 2011 Hispanic poverty rate still far exceeded the overall U.S. rate of 15.0 percent. The decline in the Hispanic poverty […]

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Potential effects of the Affordable Care Act on SNAP participation

By Gregory Mills  ::  August 22nd, 2012

As states decide whether to adopt the Medicaid expansions now allowed—but not required—under the Affordable Care Act, it is useful to consider the potential consequences of these choices beyond the immediate sphere of health insurance. One likely result is greater participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) among low-income […]

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