Scholar in Poverty and Social Welfare Policy

The Cato Institute

Washington, DC


About the Cato Institute

The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization—a think tank—dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

Founded in 1977, Cato owes its name to Cato’s Letters, a series of essays published in 18th- century England that presented a vision of society free from excessive government power. Those essays inspired the architects of the American Revolution. And the simple, timeless principles of that revolution — individual liberty, limited government, and free markets – turn out to be even more powerful in today’s world of global markets and unprecedented access to information than Jefferson or Madison could have imagined. Social and economic freedom is not just the best policy for free people, it is the indispensable framework for the future.


About the Role

The Cato Institute is seeking to hire a full-time scholar to work on poverty and social welfare policy in Washington, DC. The scholar will be responsible for analyzing social welfare policy, poverty, critiquing social welfare policy in written and oral communications, proposing welfare reforms consistent with Cato’s principles, and communicating broadly on this issue area to the general public, the media, policy makers, and others. The scholar’s written analyses will be published in multiple formats including policy analyses, working papers, op-eds, blog posts, white papers, as well as others on, and elsewhere. The scholar will be expected to speak widely with policy makers on Capitol Hill, members of the media, public events, and other scholars.

The scholar will report directly to the Vice President for Economic and Social Policy Studies. The successful candidate will have deep knowledge of the economics of social welfare policy, deep knowledge of existing welfare programs, understand the debate over poverty and its causes, be able to work well independently and with others, capable of developing new social welfare reform proposals, and be industrious, motivated, and principled. Job title and compensation are competitive and will be based on the experience and skills of the successful candidate.


  • Analyze and write about poverty and social welfare policy and its effects.
  • Analyze and present social welfare data, including government expenditures, use rates, and other data on social welfare programs.
  • Write detailed analyses of welfare policy for Cato Institute publications such as policy analyses, briefs, blog posts, op-eds, working papers, and other forms. 
  • Propose libertarian reforms to social welfare policy and their effects on poverty.
  • Speak frequently with policy makers about social welfare policy and poverty.
  • Consult frequently with other social welfare experts in other organizations, such as economists, attorneys, policy makers, and others.
  • Make presentations to audiences, participate in panel discussions, and media appearances.
  • Organize policy forums and other events.
  • Commission and edit studies from outside experts.


  • A strong commitment to Cato’s libertarian values.
  • Deep knowledge of the effects of social welfare policy.
  • Deep knowledge of existing social welfare programs and how they function.
  • Deep knowledge about poverty, including debates over its causes and consequences.
  • Strong research skills.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to work on multiple tasks independently on a time-sensitive basis, a commitment to accuracy, and creativity in developing new welfare reforms consistent with libertarian principles. 
  • Be able to participate in or plan events, including conferences and webinars.
  • Experience analyzing welfare policy on Capitol Hill, think tanks, academic institutions, or other policy-related positions is preferred.
  • Advanced degree in economics, other social sciences, or law is preferred.
  • Familiarity with data analysis and modern statistical methods is a plus.

How to Apply

Qualified candidates should submit the following application materials in one PDF document:

  • A cover letter detailing your interest in the position, Cato’s mission, and your salary requirements
  • Resume
  • Two representative writing samples about welfare that preferably include original empirical work

Applications should be submitted to Talent Market via this link:

There is no application deadline for this position. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. This job will remain posted on our site until it is filled. 

Questions can be directed to Lydia Ocampo, Outreach Specialist at Talent Market, who is assisting with the search: [email protected].

While we thank all applicants in advance for their interest in this position, we are only able to contact those to whom we can offer an interview. Only direct applications will be considered. No phone calls, please.

Talent Market is a nonprofit entity dedicated to promoting liberty by helping free-market nonprofits identify talent for critical roles. We provide consulting and recruiting services at no cost to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations that clearly and directly focus on advancing the principles of economic freedom, free enterprise, free trade, free speech, property rights, rule of law, and limited regulation.