How the Center for Economic and Policy Research is Fighting for an Economy that Works for Everyone

The Center for Economic and Policy Research uncovers the stealth causes of economic inequality that often elude policymakers and other researchers. We look at the causes and effects of inequality: how working people are falling farther behind on the one hand, while high-powered executives cash in on the other. CEPR shines a light on the ways in which the system is rigged and offers policy solutions that reverse the trend of growing inequality.

Through our research, we have brought to light the abuses wrought by outsized corporate influence, lack of regulation and increased financialization. CEPR Co-director Eileen Appelbaum’s groundbreaking work on private equity has educated the public and policymakers about PE’s abusive practices. CEPR Senior Economist Dean Baker is an expert in other ways the rich and powerful have deliberately structured the market to redistribute income upward. He outlines how government-granted patent monopolies allow pharmaceutical companies to extract billions from everyday people when drug research could be publicly funded for a fraction of the cost. His work debunks the myth of “maximizing profits,” illustrating how corrupt corporate governance structures allow CEOs to rip off the companies they work for, causing great economic waste.

This power grab by corporate elites and their enablers has created an economy that is unequal and unjust, with low wage workers, women and people of color paying the price. CEPR analyzes the data and provides research that documents the devastating effects of an unequal economy on real peoples’ lives.Our Project on Work, Poverty and Inequality examines the United States’ outdated social safety net and sheds light on how more Americans than ever are falling through the cracks. The project includes reports, public comment, and other pieces calling for improvements in how the country measures and addresses economic security, with a particular focus on families.  This work reflects “Progressive Family Values”, a change in the way we discuss poverty and the safety net.Our series of reports on unionization document how unions have historically improved the lives of workers across race, ethnicity and gender lines. Unions have protected workers of color most of all, but unionization is shrinking everywhere except the public sector. Unfortunately, public sector workers are increasingly under attack and Black public sector workers are paying the highest price.

The Covid 19 pandemic has lifted the veil on the many challenges faced by frontline workers, those “essential” workers who have been the real heroes of the pandemic. As we noted in our series of reports, these Americans “have been “essential” and under-supported for much longer than their time in the spotlight. Our work documented that women workers and Black workers are overrepresented in these industries.

But we don’t just write about the problems, we provide innovative policy solutions. CEPR Senior Fellow Shawn Fremstad is a widely-recognized proponent of new public measures of poverty and economic insecurity that better reflect differences in wealth, debt and hardships between various groups.  Some of our bold ideas include fundamentally rethinking our economic security system for workers and working-age people.Other policies that were once considered outside the mainstream are now widely supported. Dean Baker’s work on publicly funded drug trials as a means to address soaring prescription drug costs is a perfect example that is particularly relevant today. Other policy prescriptions include work sharing, which in the time of Covid would allow workers to maintain their ties to their employer and hold onto their benefits. CEPR has also pushed to have states adopt state-run retirement plans to offer a universal low-cost alternative to private 401(k)s.

Just as importantly, we work with numerous stakeholders to ensure that our policy solutions are enacted.  CEPR educates policymakers at the national, state and local levels. We provide advocates with the data-driven research they need to successfully pursue social change. Our partnerships with grassroots groups have resulted in real victories. Eileen Appelbaum’s unique research showing that paid leave programs are not “bad for business” has been crucial in the fight for paid leave. And we were a founder of the Fed Up coalition, which has successfully changed the way in which the Fed operates so that it better serves the people.

Since its inception CEPR has been at the forefront of research on the policy debates of “tomorrow”, from the housing bubble and paid family leave to Private Equity and the Fed Up campaign. Our work is more crucial than ever as the world grapples with how to address the economic devastation caused by the Covid 19 pandemic and the insidious effects of systemic racism. CEPR remains committed to looking at economic issues through a social and racial equity lens and will continue to call out the root causes of inequality and push for an economic recovery that works for everyone.

This month, the Center for Economic and Policy Research joins Free Speech For People and Green America on our December donations ballot to share a portion of our monthly grant. Please visit to vote for one, two or all three organizations to help us determine how to distribute these donations among these amazing groups.