In the latest response to “Can Social Science Matter?,” Ron Haskins argues that social science should tackle heightened demands for accountability by not overpromising on impact while also trumpeting existing work that simultaneously deepens social understanding and contributes to addressing public problems. Haskins highlights two relatively recent and influential approaches that have demonstrated the capacity to bridge the purposes of “basic” and “applied” research—the mining of large scale administrative data and the use of randomized controlled trials to test the effectiveness of a range of social programs.
Ron Haskins is a senior fellow and holds the Cabot Family Chair in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, where he codirects the Center on Children and Families. He is also a senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and is president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. Haskins is the coauthor of Show Me the Evidence: Obama’s Fight for Rigor and Results in Social Policy (Brookings, 2014) and Creating an Opportunity Society (Brookings, 2009); the author of Work Over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law (Brookings, 2006); and senior editor of the Future of Children. In 2002, he was the senior adviser to the president for welfare policy at the White House. Beginning in 1986, he spent fourteen years on the staff of the House Ways and Means Committee. In 2016, Haskins and his long-time colleague Isabel Sawhill were awarded the Moynihan Prize for being champions of the public good and advocates for public policy based on social science research. In 1997, Haskins was selected by the National Journal as one of the one hundred most influential people in the federal government. In his Washington career, he has focused on evidence-based policy, early childhood education, marriage and family formation, poverty, equal opportunity, abused and neglected children, and budget issues. Haskins lives with his wife in Rockville, Maryland, and has four grown children and two grandchildren.