A Targeted Minimum Benefit Plan: A New Proposal to Reduce Poverty among Older Social Security Recipients

A Targeted Minimum Benefit Plan: A New Proposal to Reduce Poverty among Older Social Security Recipients. Urban Institute. Pamela Herd et al. April 2, 2018

 In light of concerns about Social Security costs and benefit adequacy, we propose an effective and relatively inexpensive targeted program to provide a minimally adequate floor to old-age income through the program. This minimum benefit plan would provide a cost-effective method for reducing elder poverty to low levels. A key element is that the benefit would not count toward other social programs’ income eligibility thresholds. Other aspects include an income-tested benefit that would bring beneficiaries to the poverty threshold; application by filing of a 1040 income tax return; and setting of benefit levels and distribution through the Social Security Administration. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 17 pages].



Safety Net Investments in Children

Safety Net Investments in Children. Brookings Institution. Hilary W. Hoynes and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach.  March 8, 2018

 In this paper, the authors examine what groups of children are served by core childhood social safety net programs—including Medicaid, EITC, CTC, SNAP, and AFDC/TANF—and how they have changed over time. They find that virtually all gains in spending on the social safety net for children since 1990 have gone to families with earnings, and to families with income above the poverty line. These trends are the result of welfare reform and the expansion of in-work tax credits. The authors review the available research and find that access to safety net programs during childhood improves outcomes for children and society over the long run. This evidence suggests that the recent changes to the social safety net may have lasting negative impacts on the poorest children. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 67 pages].

The Antipoverty Effects of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Antipoverty Effects of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Urban Institute. Laura Wheaton, Victoria Tran. February 15, 2018

 The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps millions of poor and low-income Americans purchase food, is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program. This analysis estimates SNAP’s effect on poverty using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). The authors augment the Census Bureau’s SPM to correct for the underreporting of SNAP and other means-tested benefits in the underlying survey data. They  find that SNAP removed 8.4 million people from poverty in 2015, reducing the poverty rate from 15.4 percent to 12.8 percent (a reduction of 17 percent). SNAP reduced the poverty gap (the aggregate amount of additional income required to remove all poor families from poverty) by $35 billion (21 percent) in 2015. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 52 pages].

Ending Family Homelessness: An Opportunity for Pay-for-Success Financing

Ending Family Homelessness: An Opportunity for Pay-for-Success Financing. Urban Institute. Maya Brennan et al. August 15, 2017.

In the United States, approximately 150,000 families with 330,000 children stay in a homeless shelter each year. Millions more are housing insecure and at risk of homelessness. The family homelessness problem in the United States is large but solvable, and solutions are known to have broader benefits for children’s well-being, quality of life, and long-term life outcomes. Solutions to family homelessness may even yield net cost savings to governments. Yet the problem persists for two main reasons: political will and artificial budget divisions. State and local governments can use the pay-for-success model to finance public services to help overcome these hurdles. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 21 pages, 286.75 KB].

Mapping Working Family Tax Credits and Their Anti-Poverty Impact

Mapping Working Family Tax Credits and Their Anti-Poverty Impact. Brookings Institution. Elizabeth Kneebone and Cecile Murray. February 21, 2017

Now that tax filing season is well under way, millions of Americans are about to begin receiving refunds. For many low-income taxpayers, two key tax code provisions—the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC)—will keep them and their families from falling into poverty.

What makes the EITC and ACTC special is that they are refundable—that is, after offsetting taxes owed, filers receive the remainder of the credit in their refunds. As a result, the tax credits effectively boost the take-home pay of low- and moderate-income working families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)—a more nuanced measure of poverty that accounts for things like tax payments, work expenses, and in-kind benefits not reflected in the official measure—these tax credits lowered the national poverty rate by 3 percentage points in 2015, equivalent to lifting 9.2 million people above the poverty line. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Cities as engines of economic growth: the case for providing basic infrastructure and services in urban areas

Cities as engines of economic growth: the case for providing basic infrastructure and services in urban areas. International Institute for Environment and Development. Sarah Colenbrander. October2016.

Urbanisation offers substantial opportunities to reduce poverty, in part because it is more cost-effective to meet many basic needs in cities than in rural areas.

This paper demonstrates that providing electricity to the 200 million urban residents who currently lack access would require only US$1.37 billion per year to 2045. Generating this electricity from low-carbon options (consistent with avoiding a 2°C temperature rise) would cost only one per cent more.

This demonstrates that relatively small amounts of resources need to be mobilised to deliver basic services and infrastructure to the urban poor – an essential precursor to inclusive and sustained economic growth. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 32 pages, 506.70 KB].

Combating Global Poverty

Combating Global Poverty. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Conor M. Savoy. December 3, 2013.

Beginning in the 1970s, the United States steadily shifted the focus of its foreign assistance on meeting the basic human needs, public health, basic education, and food security, of the developing world; programs aimed at poverty reduction.This represented a marked shift from the early years of foreign aid when the United States concentrated on improving public administration, infrastructure development, and macroeconomic policy. This support for basic human needs has only intensified over the last 15 years as a series of presidential initiatives have targeted public health spending, basic education, and agricultural development. Governance, in its current form, emerged as a development focus in the 1990s. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 76 pages, 3.83 MB].