5 Ways to Reduce Poverty in America
8 months ago
At least one in eight Americans live in poverty. What is the solution?
Poverty in the United States is markedly higher than in most other developed countries.
At least one in eight Americans now live in poverty, and about one third of all Americans will experience poverty within a 13 year period, with one in 10 Americans poor for most of the time, and one in 20 poor for at least 10 years or more.
A family of four is considered poor if the family’s income is below $19,971, considerably less than what a family in most places in the country needs to live. Even with that metric, around 100 million people had incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty thresholds.
So, how do we solve the poverty problem?
1. Reduce the high costs of being poor and increase access to financial services.
Despite having less income, lower-income families often pay more than middle and high-income families for the same consumer products.
Poor families can be helped by raising and indexing the minimum wage to half the average of the hourly wage, guaranteeing quality child care assistance to low-income families and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit as well as the Child Tax Credit.
Lowering taxes and tax exemptions don’t do the trick, as Else Øyen of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations points out. The poor neither profit from tax exempts, nor lower taxes, because they have none of the traditional items to exempt and too little of a formal income, if any, to benefit from lower taxes.
Because the size of the tax credit does not increase for families with more than three children, even though their poverty rates are higher, faith based anti-poverty Bread.org advocates for more appropriate taxation, suggesting Earned Income Tax Credit filers pay hundreds of dollars every year unnecessarily, when that money could instead go to supporting their families.
2. Create a clear path to higher education
Mark Greenberg, who leads a poverty task force at The Center for American Progress, has a multi-faceted approach to ending poverty that includes the simplification and expansion of Pell Grants.
With research showing low-income youth are much less likely to attend college than their higher income peers, Pell Grants play a crucial role. Greenberg suggests gradually raising Pell Grants to cover 70 percent of the cost of attending a four-year institution of higher learning.
Support and expansion of the Dream Act will provide many undocumented students living in poverty a better opportunity to get a quality education.
High income poverty rates among black children result from both relatively low marriage rates and relatively poor economic prospects for both men and women, especially those with low levels of education, says Mary Jo Bane of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.