Devin Rutan Awarded Charles F. Westoff Prize in Demography for 2024

May 30, 2024

Devin Rutan has been selected as the recipient of the 2024 Charles F. Westoff Prize in Demography for his dissertation entitled, “Rising Ineligibility for Social Security: Drivers and Consequences of Elderly Poverty.” Two chapters of this work were nominated by Matt Desmond.

His work was selected by Westoff Committee members: Alícia Adserà, Noreen Goldman, and Tod Hamilton. 

One chapter provides an original and innovative analysis of how incarceration affects access to Social Security benefits, especially among racial minorities. This piece is a very innovative (and challenging) use of data and a noble effort to tackle a problem that few have paid attention to. Using administrative data from Wisconsin, Rutan applies appropriate demographic methods and causal inference techniques to highlight the significant obstacles faced by formerly incarcerated individuals. His research reveals that approximately one in four formerly incarcerated individuals reach the age of 65 without earning enough credits for Social Security benefits. This insightful work highlights the urgent need for policy reform to address these inequities and support this vulnerable population.