Research & Biography

Marci A. Ybarra is an Assistant Professor in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Her research interests include poverty and inequality, social service delivery, work supports, and family well-being. Professor Ybarra conducts quantitative analysis of administrative and longitudinal survey data in addition to qualitative analysis through participant-observation and in-depth interviewing at social service agencies.

Her research is concerned with the impact of public supports on the well-being of low-income families. She currently investigates three different areas of social policy and how these affect economically disadvantaged families by impacting both their work and family life: welfare reform, child care, and Paid Family Leave. Her research on welfare reform considers how different welfare policies shape entry, use, and exits from welfare programs and subsequent economic outcomes for poor, single-mothers with children. Another line of research considers how different allocations of public provisions (child care subsidies) and specific policies, related to child care impact how families decide to use the child care subsidy system, changes in employment patterns, and child care stability fluctuations over time.

Ybarra’s research on Paid Family Leave examines how modern welfare programs function as a short-term maternity-leave program for some single poor mothers with infants. This area of research also considers the implications of implementing more Paid Family Programs and/or Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) programs to enhance the well-being of families with children with an emphasis on low-income families.

The Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse (SSRC) named Ybarra an Emerging Scholar in 2015. Ybarra is a Faculty Affiliate at the University of Chicago’s Center for Human Potential and Public Policy and Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, and at the University of Notre Dame’s Lab for Economic Opportunities. She is also a member of the Advisory Council for the OPRE-funded Family Self-Sufficiency Data Center.  She has been a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

Professor Ybarra earned her Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in community practice from Wayne State University in Michigan. She also holds a PhD in social work from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.