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.
Policymakers on both sides of the aisle are currently pushing for reforms to the tax code. As part of this effort, legislators are proposing multiple ideas for strengthening the Child Tax Credit (CTC), a program designed to support families raising children in the United States. A recent proposal introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) would expand access to the CTC to those at the bottom of the income distribution and boost the value of the CTC for all credit-eligible families. In this brief, we present results from a simulation of the Bennet-Brown bill. Click here to read the brief.