This work assesses the possibilities and limitations of reducing poverty among families with children by increasing the work effort of the adults in those families. Following a historical review of family poverty since 1995, the authors present several policy simulations, including increased employment, a higher minimum wage, more generous tax credits, a child allowance, and reduced childcare or medical expenses. Specific policy proposals—including the proposals of the Biden Administration—are assessed using four criteria: reducing child poverty; equitable treatment of the poorest groups; promotion of self-sufficiency; and cost-effectiveness. The authors conclude that while no single policy is able to reduce family poverty by half while meeting the other criteria, several combinations of policies have the potential to do so.
Andrea L. Ziegert is Julian H. Robertson, Jr. professor of economics at Denison University.
Dennis Sullivan is emeritus professor of economics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Chapter One: Twenty-first Century Families with Children in the United States
Chapter Two: Work and Wages: Understanding the U.S. Economy and the Poor
Chapter Three: From Work to SPM Family Poverty
Chapter Four: Wage Policies, Work Policies, and Other Policies—Which Policies Work?
Chapter Five: Detailed Proposals and Their Cost
Work alone is never enough to significantly reduce child poverty, but packages of work-support benefits and family-support benefits can help us do much better in reducing child poverty in America. Ziegert and Sullivan tell us in clear language how to bundle these polices to achieve policy goals which support workers and which reduce child poverty.
What will it take to increase the well-being of children from poor families in the United States? Ziegert and Sullivan analyze data from the 1995–2020 March Supplement to the Current Population Survey and Columbia University's Supplemental Poverty Measure project, the latter reflecting an alternative measure of poverty developed by the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The authors then report on the simulated impact of various contemporary policy ideas on poverty, including job guarantees, improved social support through the earned income tax credit, and subsidized childcare and medical expenses. The authors also consider the costs of these policies. The writing is clear and the tables are informative. Despite its short length, the book is densely packed with facts and essential reading for those invested in these issues.Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals.