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Child poverty means food, housing, and money, not labor demand, works best


At the end of 2015, as part of a two-party financing agreement, Congress agreed to produce a $ 750,000 report on child poverty reduction in America.

Barbara Lee and Lucille Roybal-Allard are pressured by the Democratic Representatives of California to ask the National Academy of Sciences to convene a team of experts to "produce a misleading, evidence-based report that would assess the most effective means of reducing child poverty in the next 10 years. year. "

More than three years later, this group produced its full 600-page report.

The report estimates that child poverty will cost $ 800 billion to $ 1.1 billion Each year because of increased crime, deterioration in health and lower income when poor children become adults. There is no single approach to reducing it;

  • THE "Work Package" which increases the EITC, increases the child care tax credit, increases the minimum wage, and increases WorkAdvance, a training program that “program staff work closely with employers to put disadvantaged people in a labor-intensive way training programs for sectors that are in strong demand for local workers. “This plan has the least impact on reducing child poverty among the four options, from 12.6 percent to 10.2 percent, and raising 1.8 million children out of poverty. This would cost $ 9.3 billion a year.
  • THE "Work-Based and Universal Support Package" which includes the EITC and childcare benefit policy from the first package, but it is coupled with a child allowance for children under 2000, paid to all parents of children under 17 years of age. 12.6% to 8.3% and 3.2 million children out of poverty. This is about one-third of the decline in child poverty: much better than a work-focused plan, but not enough to cut half of child poverty. That would cost $ 44.3 billion a year.
  • THE "Tools tested grants and work package" which includes the EITC and the childcare allowance from the first two options, but increases the benefits of the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) by 35% and drastically increases access to housing labels under Section 8. This halves the plan to halve child poverty, rising from 12.6 percent to 6.2 percent and raising 4.7 million children out of poverty. Housing and food supplies significantly reduce policies than 'work-based' benefits. This would cost $ 90.7 billion a year.
  • THE "Universal Support and Poverty Reduction Package", which includes a higher growth of the EITC than the first three packages, includes a minimum wage increase of $ 10.25 per hour, and makes the child's tax credit repayable, offers various anti-poverty programs to legal immigrants who are currently restricting, and most importantly, includes a child allowance of $ 2,700 per year, and a $ 1,200 state-subsidized minimum grant for single parent parents who are eligible to support their children from their former partner (often these partners are unable to pay childcare regularly). This plan also halves child poverty: from 12.6 percent to 6.1 percent, and raising 4.8 million children out of poverty. It would cost about $ 111.6 billion a year.

The authors explicitly exclude and do not include a number of policies more popular with DC thinkers that do not rely on sufficient evidence to include in the report: job requirements such as the 1996 welfare reforms, marriage support, and long-acting reversible contraceptives. in the hope of preventing women from having their children, do not have the resources to support them.

The cost of each plan, even the most expensive, is due to the annual social costs of poverty estimated by the committee.

The study commission is a child poverty researcher, including Greg Duncan (chairman of the group), Janet Currie, Irv Garfinkel, Hilary Hoynes, Robert Moffitt and Timothy Smeeding; psychologists Vonnie McLoyd and Eldar Shafir (whose popular book was) Deficit documented the mental consequences of poverty) and, perhaps most surprisingly, Ron Haskins, the assistant of the 1996 welfare reform house, House Republican.

The authors speak for no one but for themselves, and these conclusions are like those of welfare reform skeptics like Smeeding, and supporters like Haskins whose members have different beliefs about the importance of the work, the money or the benefits of their justification for them who are not or do not work and have several priorities in the federal budget.

But I believe that the report still leaves us with clear lessons that child poverty policy should go in the future.

Promoting work is worth nothing

The report suggests limiting work alone by alleviating poverty.

In the 1990s, the US social welfare policy brought a dramatic shift from guaranteed income support for poor households in the form of support to dependent children (AFDC) and a poverty reduction approach, with a strong emphasis on work. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which has been replaced by AFDC after the 1996 welfare reforms, has created job requirements and prioritized job creation against the offering of cash; The earned income tax credit that the Clinton administration has dramatically increased in the 1993 budget is the money spent on the working poor, not the disabled, the elderly, the caretakers, or otherwise the poor.

The authors know best how limited this change is in terms of TANF-style work requirements. "There is not enough evidence to define binding labor policies that can relieve child poverty reliably, and it seems that labor requirements are at least as likely to increase as poverty reduction" – concludes.

However, the expansion of the EITC and other work-based grants were not enough, experts concluded. "The committee was unable to formulate an evidence-based, employment-oriented package that would be close to fulfilling its mandate to reduce child poverty by 50%," he said.

Nor can moralization come from much

Conservative approaches to poverty reduction have traditionally disappeared from increased government spending, which speaks for increased governance of welfare recipients, urging them to work more, but to better plan for children and marry children.

Essentially, these are not rejected by experts on the basis of evidence. "In the early 2000s, an ambitious attempt to develop programs that would improve the skills of even relationships, promote marriage, and improve children's well-being, could not increase marriage rates and reach other long-term goals," he concludes. .

They show some sympathy for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) such as IUDs and implants, noting that evidence from Colorado and Delaware shows that increased access to this type of birth can significantly reduce unwanted pregnancies . But it is a bit conceptually odd, if not confusing, as a response to "child poverty"; does not make any real child better, but only prevents them from existing ones.

Furthermore, experts note that there is evidence that governmental family planning efforts show racial bias. It is easy to imagine a LARC promotion program whose reduced child poverty is disproportionately trying to prevent black women from bringing children in a way that undermines reproductive autonomy.

Finally, the authors reject the LARC promotion for child poverty.

People have to give money

A few years ago, another group of outstanding poverty researchers – including Duncan, chairman of the NAS commission, and members of the NAS committee, Smeeding and Garfinkel, and poverty experts Jane Waldfogel, Kathryn Edin, Luke Shaefer, David Harris, Sophie Collyer, Christopher Wimer and Hirokazu Yoshikawa – in the paper for the Russell Sage Foundation – a monthly and maybe a larger child allowance, from $ 3,000 to $ 3,600.

"Certainly the costs would be significant," he wrote. "But this investment would lead to a massive and direct reduction in child poverty and could have a significant impact on the poverty and well-being of future generations."

The NAS report, as a consensus document, cannot be reached from a conclusion. At the same time, all aspects of the study have the same expectation that there is a need for increased unconditional cash or cash support for families with children.

Take, for example, the following table showing the impact of some of the policies in the four policy packages of the report on poverty and deep poverty:


The Committee on Building a Poverty Reduction Agenda is half of the 10-year estimate of the impact of different policies on poverty.

A great guide to the anti-poverty study.
National Academy of Sciences Committee on establishing an agenda for reducing the number of children living in poverty every 10 years

The only policy that goes beyond poverty reduction is a $ 2700 child allowance that reduces child poverty one by one. Second place? $ 2,000 child discount.

After the next two, expanded retail vouchers, which are profitable in cash, will replace the expenses that poor families would otherwise have to pay for cash – and extended food stamps, which are basically a cash benefit that the government pays half. – deliberately hides the beneficiaries out of the cost of things outside the grocery stores.

The bigger the program, the better the poverty reduction. The more money a program has, the more it reduces poverty. It is not difficult to understand why, because of these realities, many poverty experts spend a year on an even greater $ 3,000 to $ 3,600 child discount.

And it is encouraging that fans like me, such a policy, have quickly adopted the idea within the Democratic Party. Since 2017 Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the American Family Law, an bill that provides $ 3,000 child support for older children and $ 3,600 for younger children, directly modeling the Poverty Expert Plan after. Almost all major democrat senators who started or are considering the president in 2020 voiced the bill, including Bennet and Brown themselves, but Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren . Bernie Sanders is the only holdout.

Democrats can easily take over the American Family Law or a similar bill during budget conciliation if they are paid or expire after 10 years. As Canada's latest experience shows, the results would be thorough. After Justin Trudeau introduced a significantly extended child benefit, the proportion of people living below the lower income threshold of families decreased by one third. There is no reason why American children should not get the same help.


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