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Principal Associate, Social & Economic Policy

Researcher and policy analyst Karin Martinson has a deep knowledge of workforce development and income security policies affecting low-income populations. She has made significant contributions to the research and literature in these areas.
Martinson has directed multifaceted, large-scale evaluations of employment strategies designed to promote economic success among disadvantaged populations, as well as studies of other policies and programs affecting low-income individuals’ self-sufficiency. 
Martinson’s expertise spans several policy areas including workforce development, post-secondary education, income support, welfare-to-work strategies, and child support and child care policies and programs. She has conducted numerous comprehensive implementation studies that use multiple data collection and analytic strategies to inform impact analyses to provide lessons for policy and practice. During her 25-year career, Martinson has authored numerous reports, briefs and articles. 


  • Education and training programs for low-skilled adults
  • Income support programs
  • Implementation studies
  • Impact studies using experimental designs
  • Evaluation design and data collection
  • Data analysis

Key Projects

  • Green Jobs and Health Care (GJ-HC) Impact Evaluation, Employment and Training Administration ,U.S. Department of Labor
  • H1-B Ready to Work Partnership Grant Evaluation, U.S. Department of Labor
  • Innovative Strategies for Improving Self-Sufficiency Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • Job Search Assistance Strategies Evaluation, ACF/HHS

Selected Publications

  • Martinson, Karin and Karen Gardiner. (2014). Improving the Economic Prospects of Low-income Individuals through Career Pathways Programs: The Innovative Strategies For Increasing Self-Sufficiency Evaluation. OPRE Report # 2014-17, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S.Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Martinson, Karin and Gayle Hamilton. 2011. Providing Earnings Supplements to Encourage and Sustain Employment:  Lessons from Research and Practice.  New York, NY:  MDRC.
  • Hendra, Richard, Keri-Nicole Dillman, Gayle Hamilton, Erika Lundquist, Karin Martinson, and Melissa Wavelet.  2011.  How Effective Are Different Approaches Aiming to Increase Employment Retention and Advancement?  Final Impacts for Twelve Models.  New York, NY:  MDRC.
  • Martinson, Karin and Carolyn O’Brien.  2010. “Conducting Case Studies” in Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation, Joseph Wholey, Harry Hatry, and Kathryn Newcomer, eds.  San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass.
  • Martinson, Karin.  2010.  Partnering with Employers to Promote Job Advancement for Low-Skilled Individuals:  Challenges and Strategies for Moving Forward.  Washington, DC:  The Urban Institute.
  • Loprest, Pamela and Karin Martinson.  2008.  Supporting Work for People with Significant Challenges.  Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.
  • Martinson, Karin and Pamela Holcomb.  Innovative Employment Approaches and Programs for Low-Income Families.  Washington, DC:  The Urban Institute, 2007.
  • Holcomb, Pamela and Karin Martinson.  “Welfare Reform in the United States:  The First Five Years of TANF.”  Social Policy Review 15, Bristol, England:  The Policy Press, 2003.
Karin Martinson