Robert Paul Hartley

Rob Hartley is an applied microeconomist working in the fields of labor and public economics. His research addresses the role of social policy on the persistence of poverty and dependence, particularly through childhood exposure or labor market outcomes. Dr. Hartley also has a background in Christian ministry that has concentrated on serving and working alongside those in poverty.

Dr. Hartley has written about intergenerational patterns in welfare participation as well as food insecurity, and he has specifically focused on behavioral responses to welfare reform. Additionally, he has used microsimulation evidence to examine poverty and the distributional impacts of alternative income guarantee designs that could supplement and modernize the Earned Income Tax Credit. His research on work-based welfare, in-kind benefits, and childcare subsidies has direct application to the field of social work and the related economic principles behind challenges faced by many families.

In 2017, Dr. Hartley joined the Columbia School of Social Work as a postdoctoral research scientist with the Center on Poverty and Social Policy, and as a fellow with the Columbia Population Research Center. As of 2019, Dr. Hartley teaches economics and policy analysis as assistant professor of social work. He holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, an MDiv in Theology from Emmanuel School of Religion, and a PhD in Economics from the University of Kentucky.

Research Interests

Human Capital and Children
Income Based Interventions
Long Reach of Childhood or Childhood Origins of Adult Health
Policy (policies)
Social Policy


Consumer Expenditure Survey
Current Population Survey
Panel Study of Income Dynamics