Toward a Population Policy: Addressing Contemporary Eugenics and Social Inequality


Mencoff Hall 205

Leonard M. Lopoo, Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics, Syracuse University

Abstract: Policymakers spend a considerable amount of time discussing the economic and environmental consequences of all proposed legislation. The implications of public policy for our population are an afterthought, at best. This general lack of demographic attention in the policy arena has led to family planning policies targeting low-income Americans that have eugenic undertones, harming disadvantaged subgroups. I use the Medicaid Family Planning Program as a case study discussing both its history and what we can learn from its current form. I also collect data from a nationally representative set of Americans asking their opinions about government sponsored family planning programs. Finally, I propose a solution for our nation to generate a more equitable set of population policies.

Bio: Leonard M. Lopoo is the Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics and a professor in the Department of Public Administration and International Affairs at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. Len is also the co-founder and director of the Maxwell X Lab, a research lab that runs behavioral public policy field experiments. His research primarily focuses on the impact of social policies on family formation decisions. He has served on the Population Sciences Subcommitee of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and was the social policy co-editor of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management from 2008-2018. Len was elected to the National Academy of Public Administration in 2019. He is currently a visiting scholar (2022-23) at the Malcom Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.