A carbon tax, while a popular policy proposal, is highly regressive. Pairing a carbon tax with a universal dividend—a cash benefit to all citizens—makes the policy more politically and socially viable. However, decisions on who to include as the dividend beneficiaries—and whether or not children count—affect poverty rates. We find that providing carbon dividends to all adults and children would reduce adult poverty and child poverty. However, limiting carbon dividends to adults only would increase child poverty. If children are not counted, many working class families would be taxed into poverty.
About one in six New York City adults reported taking care of an ill or disabled relative; this rate held across demographic groups. Using Poverty Tracker data, we find that many New York City caregivers experience financial, emotional, and physical difficulties related to caregiving. Caregivers with health issues or lower incomes were more likely to face difficulties. Four in ten caregivers have used services, such as support groups or respite care, to help with caring for family members.
When measuring one’s financial security by whether a respondent has the ability to pay for an unanticipated financial shock, a sizable share of New Yorkers and Americans are living on a financial ledge — one emergency away from not being able to make ends meet. Using Poverty Tracker data, we find that nearly half of New Yorkers would not be able to cover an unanticipated $400 expense. Moreover, at every income level, racial and ethnic minorities in New York are markedly less likely to be able to cover such an expense with cash. These findings reveal both a city and a nation in which nearly half of its citizens are unprepared for a modest emergency expense without relying on friends, family, or creditors to help pay the cost.
Research on forced moves and evictions highlights the toll that displacement takes on families and neighborhoods. The Poverty Tracker housing module provides a first look at the experiences and trajectories of New Yorkers who are forced out of their housing. We find that over 100,000 New Yorkers are forced out of their housing within a year. Further, these forced moves and evictions play a role in concentrating poverty in New York City—people were more likely to relocate to higher poverty areas after being forced to move. These findings underscore the importance of the policy reforms that city and state lawmakers are instituting to promote housing stability.
CPSP is pleased to announce the awarding of its annual poverty and social policy dissertation stipend to Elizabeth Doran to continue her dissertation research on how social policies can support families with young children and in poverty. In her dissertation “Childcare (In)stability and Household (In)stability Among Low-Income Families” she is specifically examining the effect of universal pre-kindergarten in New York City, and more generally of child care subsidies, on parental education and employment.
The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at the Columbia University School of Social Work is seeking a postdoctoral scholar with a PhD in economics, public policy, demography, social work, sociology, or a related discipline, to conduct cost benefit analyses of policy proposals related to poverty, economic security, and mobility. The postdoc will work with faculty and staff to develop comprehensive and scientifically sound cost benefit analyses related to income transfers, social mobility, and labor market policies. Deadline for applications is August 15, 2019, but will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
How should we understand racial differences in child poverty in the U.S.? In a new study in Socio-Economic Review, Parolin finds that racial inequities in states’ administration of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program contribute meaningfully to the black-white child poverty gap. His study shows that states with higher shares of black residents are less likely to prioritize the ‘provision of cash assistance’, but more likely to spend TANF funds on the ‘discouragement of lone motherhood’. Removing the inequities in states’ TANF spending priorities would reduce the black–white child poverty gap by up to 15%—comparable to the reduction effect of moving all children in single-mother households to two-parent households. Parolin shows that state-level policy differences should be central to our understanding of racial differences in child poverty. Read more at the Atlantic.
Jobs are at the heart of our nation’s debates around poverty and economic security. In recent months, several policy makers have discussed proposals for ambitious jobs programs, including Representative Ro Khanna, and Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bernie Sanders. In this brief, we examine how a national subsidized jobs program would affect poverty rates. Our analysis is modeled on the comprehensive employment program put forth by California Rep. Ro Khanna. In this joint report by the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality and the Center on Poverty and Social Policy, we find that such a program would reach millions of U.S. workers left behind in today’s economy, reducing the poverty rate among participants by nearly half. Results also show a marked aggregate reduction in the national poverty rate.
The current federal Child Tax Credit provides up to $2,000 per child per year to qualifying children, but low-income families lose out because they do not have enough earnings to qualify for the full benefit. This brief documents who is currently “left behind” in terms of realizing the full benefits of the federal Child Tax Credit because of the CTC’s earnings requirement, finding that those left out are disproportionately children of color, those in families with young children, those with single parents, and those who reside in rural areas. Adopting a more equitable, fully-refundable Child Tax Credit that is not tied to earnings would effectively remedy these inequities and meaningfully increase the after-tax incomes of those who are currently left behind.
One in five New Yorkers lives below the poverty line— a statistic that underscores the local interest in the poverty implications of policy proposals arising from the 2020 presidential campaign season getting underway. In recent months, Democratic contenders have put forward a variety of policy proposals that aim to reduce poverty across the country. In this brief, we focus specifically on New York City and report on the potential anti-poverty impacts of some of the most prominent tax credit proposals. We analyze two renter’s credit proposals: the Rent Relief Act (RRA) and the Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity Act (HOME); two EITC reforms: the Grow American Incomes Now (GAIN) and Livable Incomes for Families Today (LIFT); and the American Family Act (AFA). These proposals have the potential to reduce poverty in New York City by 10 to 38 percent, and deep poverty by 10 to 27 percent.
Expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC) at the state level could lift millions of children out of poverty and help families who benefited little or not at all from the 2017 federal expansion of the CTC, according to a 50-state report released today by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University.
The report,The Case for Extending State-Level Child Tax Credits to Those Left Out: A 50-State Analysis, outlines two bold options for creating state-level CTCs. The first would reduce child poverty by at least 15 percent in all but four states. The second, more ambitious option would reduce child poverty by at least 25 percent in all states and up to 45 percent in more than half of states.
A proposed rule change to the food stamp (SNAP) program would alter the way in which states can exempt local areas from federal work requirements by restricting waivers to those areas with a local unemployment rate of 7 percent or higher. But, as our latest research brief demonstrates, the labor market conditions faced by those most likely to be subject to work requirements are substantially worse than the 7-percent floor. The local employment prospects for those potentially affected by this new rule vary widely among subgroups at higher risk, including women, non-white individuals, and those with a high-school education or less. Many of those affected may be unable to find adequate work to meet the rule's new work requirements.
Earlier this year, Robin Hood added a series of questions about New Yorkers' perceptions of opportunity and fairness to the Poverty Tracker. The results, highlighted in the latest Poverty Tracker report, are striking. Most New Yorkers view the economy as unfair and opportunity as limited, but they are also optimistic about the future, and optimism is highest among those in the most difficult circumstances. These results provide new details and perspectives that will help to inform fight against poverty in New York City.
The American Family Act's (AFA) proposed reforms to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) present an opportunity to transform the credit into one that works for all children, not just those whose parents earn enough to qualify. We find that the AFA would move 4 million children out of poverty and cut deep poverty among children in half. If the CTC’s credit values were to increase, as they do in the AFA, but with the credit still tied to earnings, this impact would be greatly reduced, and children with the fewest resources would again be left out. Even a less generous hike in the credit value alongside the elimination of the earnings requirement would do more to reduce child poverty than a more generous credit tied to earnings.
Reducing poverty and inequality is developing into a central issue in the conversation around the 2020 presidential election. This brief contributes to this conversation by simulating the potential impacts of various policy proposals put forward by 2020 candidates, including estimated costs, anti-poverty effects, and distributional implications of proposed plans. All of the proposals that we simulate here involve new or expanded benefits administered through the tax system. We find that each of the five proposals makes a considerable dent in the poverty rate, though impacts vary across different populations and by the estimated costs and targeting of each proposal.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the distribution of wealth in the United States has grown increasingly unequal over the past half-century, especially along racial lines. Lawmakers and researchers have proposed to address the issue by introducing universal “baby bonds,” paid to each newborn in the United States and preserved until the individual reaches young adulthood. By tying bond values to net worth rather than to income, the proposed scheme intends to better address the extremely persistent racial disparities in net wealth.
A new study by Naomi Zewde, a postdoctoral research scientist at the Center on Poverty and Social Policy, finds that the policy would considerably narrow wealth inequalities by race while simultaneously improving the net-asset position of all young adults and alleviating the increasing concentration of wealth at the top.
For many low-income households, losing Medicaid coverage means entering poverty. The current administration has called on states to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries. Last year, three states began requiring documentation of employment for Medicaid eligibility and seven more states have similar proposals pending. The impact of such legislation goes beyond the often critically important loss of healthcare. Loss of Medicaid means an increase in medical-out-of-pocket spending, and those families subject to increased medical costs are vulnerable to falling into poverty. In our latest brief, we simulate the impact of work requirements on medical expenses and poverty. We find that close to 3 million individuals would lose coverage, annual medical expenses could rise by over $1,000 per family losing coverage, and over 130,000 Americans would enter poverty if work requirements were imposed on Medicaid recipients.
Costs of living vary tremendously across the US. Yet, historically, our measurement of poverty and our major antipoverty programs have not accounted for this variation. The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) considers a variety of important factors that the official measure does not, including geographic variation in costs of living. This translates into different poverty thresholds for different regions. These geographic variations in the SPM poverty line have a substantial effect on the estimated antipoverty impacts of government programs. In our latest brief, we find that the main reason antipoverty programs seem to make less of a difference in high-cost areas is simply that the costs in those areas are greater. It takes more to make ends meet in high-cost areas, but government benefits do not generally reflect this fact. Ultimately, our analyses show that costs of living are critical to the accurate assessment of state-level poverty rates and the true impact of antipoverty programs.
On Sept. 22, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security proposed changes to “public charge” policies that govern applications for legal permanent resident status. The changes would penalize applicants who receive public benefits including parts of Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance, and other public benefits. The implications for poverty in New York City are stark. Our latest brief demonstrates that these policy changes would push between 65,000 and 115,000 New Yorkers into poverty, including as many as 45,000 children.The report also explores the so called “chilling effect” of the policy, where people drop out of public programs even if they are not directly affected because of misinformation or fear. With those chilling effects, the report estimates the public charge rule changes could negatively affect the income of 400,000 to 700,000 people in New York City.
The CPSP has released a data table featuring the poverty rates from 1967 to 2017 measured under the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). The data table includes the historical SPM poverty rates and SPM poverty rates anchored to the 2012 SPM poverty thresholds with and without taxes and transfers. Results are calculated at the population level, as well as for children, working-age adults, and the elderly. This data table allows researchers to determine poverty rates in a given year without needing to download the historical SPM public-use data files.
Learn more about the historical SPM data files here.
New York City has one of the largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) populations in the country. Our latest report uses the Poverty Tracker data to look more closely at how LGB-identified New Yorkers are faring with respect to a number of measures of wellbeing such as health, poverty, and hardship. The report features the first published estimates material hardship among the LBG-identified population in New York City. Access the report to learn more.
With the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP / food stamps) up for renewal, its critics are rallying behind efforts to expand SNAP work requirements to all recipients that they consider to be “work capable.” These critics argue that “work-capable” adults are increasingly taking up SNAP benefits while working less. But are these claims valid? In light of the far-reaching impacts that changes to work requirements would have, our latest research brief provides new empirical evidence regarding benefit take up and work effort of “work-capable” adults. We find that “work-capable” adults do not represent a growing segment of the SNAP caseload and a majority of “work-capable” adults who receive SNAP are working during the year that they receive benefits. Our results reinforce a body of research indicating that families receive SNAP in times of distress and unemployment, or times for which the safety net was designed. Access our brief to learn more.
The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is the closest policy that the U.S. currently has to a universal benefit for families with children, but under the current structure of the credit, many low-income families are left out. The uneven distribution of the CTC provides an opportunity for states to correct the imbalance and ensure that low- and moderate-income families benefit equally from the credit as compared to their higher-income peers. In our latest Poverty & Social Policy Brief, we simulate the costs and benefits of such a correction in the state of California, the state with the highest rate of child poverty. We find that correcting the inequalities in the CTC would yield meaningful reductions in child poverty in California.
On May 11th, the CPSP hosted the fourth annual New Frontiers in Poverty Research Conference. Click here to learn more about the conference and to access video and slides from the presentations.
The Making Affordable Housing Work Act of 2018, a recent proposal issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), outlines a plan to raise rental payments for almost all households that participate in HUD’s housing programs. Our analysis finds that this proposal would deplete the cash resources of participant households by over $750 per year, on average, and move over half a million people into poverty. Read our latest brief to learn more.
CPSP is conducting a randomized controlled trial of an antipoverty program Room to Grow , which provides low-income mothers and children with material and social supports over the first three years of life. CPSP's Tonya Pavlenko recently discussed the powerful motivation behind the program, and how it aims to help new mothers and their babies.
The Department of Homeland Security recently proposed a regulation allowing for officials to consider the take-up of non-cash public benefits when deciding whether to admit or deport non-citizens. Immigrant parents, many of whom have citizen children who are entitled to SNAP benefits, are increasingly fearful that any interaction with the government will lead to arrest and deportation. In this brief, we present estimates of the potential impact of this proposal on child poverty.
In an effort to reduce spending and deficits, lawmakers are considering major reforms to entitlement programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Cuts to the safety net have drastic consequences for low-income Americans. The CPSP estimated the potential impacts of the House budget proposal to cut SNAP by 40% and found that such a cut would impact 24 million people and cause the poverty rate among SNAP recipients to increase by up to 10.9%. Read the full brief to see all of our results.
The latest report from the Robin Hood Poverty Tracker finds that underemployment is disturbing high among workers in New York City, the majority of whom work full-time. Underemployment, or working fewer hours than desired, is also linked to experiences of severe material hardship such as running out of money between paychecks and utility shutoffs. Steven Lee, managing director of Income Security at Robin Hood notes that “these new results underscore the fact that that low-income New Yorkers don’t need just any job. What they need are good jobs that will provide enough hours, pay a living wage, and help them move out poverty.” Click here for the report summary and here for the full report. Learn more about the Poverty Tracker here.
Poverty Tracker data shows that nearly 1 in 4 SNAP-eligible households don’t receive SNAP benefits. A recent report released by Robin Hood and CPSP uses Poverty Tracker data to identify the groups that are less likely to take-up SNAP, despite their eligibility, and the life events associated with SNAP enrollment. Click here to read a summary of the findings and here to read the full report. Learn more about the Poverty Tracker here.