Essay: Current options for antipoverty policy
By arguing that more spending on transfers is not a desirable direction for antipoverty policy, yet not identifying viable earnings and family policy options, Economists seem to be suggesting that there are no promising current options for antipoverty policy.
In the absence of specific recommendations to comment on, one can sketch options for policy that appear to have promise for reducing poverty among working age families and recognize the limitations of a transfers-only approach. The options aim to boost low-wage workers’ earnings, reduce non-marital childbearing, and incrementally reform the income support system in ways that complement earnings and family policies. No option that are discussed envisions creation of universal transfer programs for working age families, such as child allowances or an entitlement to compensated family and medical leave. Universal programs, despite their attractive features, are probably political non-starters, especially in the current budget environment.
Consider first poor families with young children. Raising their income deserves high priority because it is very likely that being raised in poverty, especially deep poverty, reduces the chances that children succeed in school, work and family formation (Dahl and Lochner 2009 and sources cited within).
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