Elizabeth T Powers

Profile picture for Elizabeth T Powers

Contact Information

Department of Economics
211 David Kinley Hall (DKH)
1407 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61801

Associate Professor
Faculty Director of Undergrad Programs


Elizabeth T. Powers is an Associate Professor in the Economics Department and a faculty member of the Institute of Government & Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to her position with the University of Illinois, Dr. Powers worked in the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland as an Economist, for the President's Council of Economic Advisers in the George H.W. Bush Administration as a Junior Staff Economist during her Ph.D. program, and for the Economic Research Service of the USDA during college. Dr. Powers received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and is a cum laude graduate of Vassar College with departmental distinction in Economics.

Dr. Powers's research focuses on the influence of public policy on well-being across the life-course. Important areas of work include the unintended effects of social policies aimed at single-parent households, persons with disabilities, and the elderly; caregiving in non-familial settings such as daycares and nursing homes; and the caregiving workforce. Her current research interests are focused on child development, including projects on the impact of important family events on children's healthy development; factors influencing how children are parented; and participation of family care providers in the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program. Dr. Powers is also currently engaged in research on the college pipeline of women economics majors.

Dr. Powers has an extensive record of public service. For the past several years she has been responsible for conducting the data analysis for the Illinois Department of Human Service's biannual report to the Federal government, documenting its status in meeting its requirements under the Child Care and Development Blog Grant. Her work on the low-wage caregiving workforce has been cited in the U.S. Supreme Court case Harris v. Quinn. Dr. Powers's declaration on the status of direct care workers in Illinois was cited by the judge as the key evidence in her decision in Ligas v. Norwood, a case brought against the state of Illinois on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities.

Dr. Powers is the recipient of numerous grants, fellowships, and awards. She was an affiliate of the Joint Centers for Poverty Research at both Northwestern and the University of Michigan, the Disability Research Institute at the University of Illinois, and maintains an affiliation with the Michigan Retirement Research Center.

Research Interests

Public economics, Welfare programs, Poverty and Inequality


Ph.D. in Economics, The University of Pennsylvania
B.A. in Economics, Vassar College (cum laude, departmental honors)

Courses Taught

ECON 442 Women in the Economy (previously ECON 490)

Recent Publications

Speirs, K. E., Gordon, R. A., Powers, E. T., Koester, B. D., & Fiese, B. (2019). Licensed Family Child Care Providers’ Participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): Greater Benefits and Fewer Burdens in Highly Urban Areas? Early Education and Development. https://doi.org/10.1080/10409289.2019.1648087

McMillen, D. P., & Powers, E. T. (2017). The eldercare landscape: Evidence from California. Health Economics (United Kingdom), 26, 139-157. https://doi.org/10.1002/hec.3567

Slade, A. N., Beller, A. H., & Powers, E. T. (2017). Family structure and young adult health outcomes. Review of Economics of the Household, 15(1), 175-197. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11150-015-9313-x

Powers, E. T., & Powers, N. J. (2011). Should government subsidize caregiver wages? some evidence on worker turnover and the cost of long-term care in group homes for persons with developmental disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 21(4), 195-209. https://doi.org/10.1177/1044207310389176

Powers, E. T., & Powersy, N. J. (2010). Causes of caregiver turnover and the potential effectiveness of wage subsidies for solving the long-term care workforce 'crisis'. Contributions to Economic Analysis and Policy, 10(1), [5].

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