Miller Center

Nicole Kazee

Political Science, Yale University

Wal-Mart Welfare?: The Role of Low-Wage Employers in American Antipoverty Policy

Kazee photo

Nicole Kazee is Director of Health Policy and Programs for the Office of the Vice President for Health Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Kazee monitors federal, state, and local health policy changes that impact the university’s clinical operations; analyzes and communicates to internal and external audiences their potential impacts; and provides strategic guidance for university leadership on how policy affects operations, revenue streams, and other aspects of health system practice. She also provides programmatic leadership for initiatives related to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, including building care coordination models, developing a community health assessment, and applying for federal and state grants and contracts. 

Kazee's dissertation explored how antipoverty programs have increasingly helped low-income workers and their families. This change expanded the relevant interest group community to include employers and their organizations, which have a new stake in the type and generosity of government policies that are used to support the poor. Second, policymaking authority has devolved to the states, which increasingly make decisions about which policies to enact and who will be eligible for them – and vary widely in these choices. This project asked why some states offer greater work support than others, and why particular policies are chosen over the alternatives. Most importantly, the project emphasized the role of employers in policy choices, determining the conditions under which the business community will shape antipoverty policies and the nature of its influence.

To answer these questions, her dissertation created an original scale of Work Support in all 50 states, looking primarily at three very different policy areas: Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, state minimum wages, and state earned income tax credits. A quantitative analysis considered a wide range of variables that could potentially explain these state policy outcomes, and identified broad patterns across states. Finally, three states are studied in depth through media analyses, the examination of government documents, and, most importantly, numerous personal interviews. These case studies captured the more subtle, contextual elements of policymaking that ultimately shape state outcomes.

Fellowship year: 2008

Mentor: Lawrence Brown

Selected Recent Publications

"Tax Can Help Workers, Employers." The State, May 7, 2008.

← Return to Fellowship home