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  • Individual Author: Berger, Lawrence M. (ed.); Cancian, Maria (ed.); Magnuson, Katherine (ed.)
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2018

    The 2016 presidential election has brought to the fore proposals to fundamentally restructure the U.S. anti-poverty safety net. Even though much of the current debate centers on shrinking or eliminating federal programs, we believe it is necessary and useful to explore alternatives that represent new approaches and significant innovations to existing policy and programs. This double issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences builds on and extends the scholarly conversation on the state of current U.S. anti-poverty policy by high-lighting a collection of related innovative and specific policy proposals for the United States. Well before the election, the authors of the articles in this volume were explicitly tasked with proposing substantially new policies solidly grounded in social science evidence that have the potential to transform anti-poverty policy. Assuming the goal to be reducing poverty among the U.S. population, we asked what new ideas should be seriously considered. The authors responded with carefully crafted proposals that tackle poverty...

    The 2016 presidential election has brought to the fore proposals to fundamentally restructure the U.S. anti-poverty safety net. Even though much of the current debate centers on shrinking or eliminating federal programs, we believe it is necessary and useful to explore alternatives that represent new approaches and significant innovations to existing policy and programs. This double issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences builds on and extends the scholarly conversation on the state of current U.S. anti-poverty policy by high-lighting a collection of related innovative and specific policy proposals for the United States. Well before the election, the authors of the articles in this volume were explicitly tasked with proposing substantially new policies solidly grounded in social science evidence that have the potential to transform anti-poverty policy. Assuming the goal to be reducing poverty among the U.S. population, we asked what new ideas should be seriously considered. The authors responded with carefully crafted proposals that tackle poverty from a variety of perspectives. Some of these proposals are more of a departure from existing policies than others, some borrow from other countries or revive old ideas, some are narrow in focus and others much broader, but all seek to move anti-poverty efforts into new territory. (Author abstract) 

    Contents:

    Introduction

    Anti-Poverty Policy Innovations: New Proposals for Addressing Poverty in the United States

    Lawrence Berger, Maria Cancian, and Katherine Magnuson

    Part I. Tax and Transfer Programs 

    A Universal Child Allowance: A Plan to Reduce Poverty and Income Instability Among Children in the United States

    H. Luke Shaefer, Sophie Collyer, Greg Duncan, Kathryn Edin, Irwin Garfinkel, David Harris, Timothy M. Smeeding, Jane Waldfogel, Christopher Wimer, and Hirokazu Yoshikawa

    Cash for Kids

    Marianne P. Bitler, Annie Laurie Hines, and Marianne Page

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

    Pamela Herd, Melissa Favreault, Madonna Harrington Meyer, and Timothy M. Smeeding

    Reforming Policy for Single-Parent Families to Reduce Child Poverty

    Maria Cancian and Daniel R. Meyer

    Reconstructing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to More Effectively Alleviate Food Insecurity in the United States 

    Craig Gundersen, Brent Kreider, and John V. Pepper

    A Renter's Tax Credit to Curtail the Affordable Housing Crisis 

    Sara Kimberlin, Laura Tach, and Christopher Wimer

    The Rainy Day Earned Income Tax Credit: A Reform to Boost Financial Security by Helping Low-Wage Workers Build Emergency Savings

    Sarah Halpern-Meekin, Sara Sternberg Greene, Ezra Levin, and Kathryn Edin

     

  • Individual Author: Herd, Pamela; Favreault, Melissa; Meyer, Madonna Harrington ; Smeeding, Timothy M.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2018

    In recent years, the big news in Social Security reform has been the program’s fiscal concerns. In light of concerns about both program 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 Social Security system. This minimum benefit plan would provide a cost-­effective method for reducing elder poverty to very low levels. A key element is that the benefit would not count toward income eligibility thresholds for other social programs. Other aspects include an income-­tested benefit that would bring beneficiaries to 100 percent of the poverty threshold; application by filing of a 1040 income tax return; and setting of benefit levels and distribution through the Social Security Administration. (Author abstract)

    In recent years, the big news in Social Security reform has been the program’s fiscal concerns. In light of concerns about both program 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 Social Security system. This minimum benefit plan would provide a cost-­effective method for reducing elder poverty to very low levels. A key element is that the benefit would not count toward income eligibility thresholds for other social programs. Other aspects include an income-­tested benefit that would bring beneficiaries to 100 percent of the poverty threshold; application by filing of a 1040 income tax return; and setting of benefit levels and distribution through the Social Security Administration. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Gibson-Davis, Christina M.; Percheski, Christine
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2018

    Life cycle theory predicts that elderly households have higher levels of wealth than households with children, but these wealth gaps are likely dynamic, responding to changes in labor market conditions, patterns of debt accumulation, and the overall economic context. Using Survey of Consumer Finances data from 1989 through 2013, we compare wealth levels between and within the two groups that make up America’s dependents: the elderly and child households (households with a resident child aged 18 or younger). Over the observed period, the absolute wealth gap between elderly and child households in the United States increased substantially, and diverging trends in wealth accumulation exacerbated preexisting between-group disparities. Widening gaps were particularly pronounced among the least-wealthy elderly and child households. Differential demographic change in marital status and racial composition by subgroup do not explain the widening gap. We also find increasing wealth inequality within child households and the rise of a “parental 1%.” During a time of overall economic growth...

    Life cycle theory predicts that elderly households have higher levels of wealth than households with children, but these wealth gaps are likely dynamic, responding to changes in labor market conditions, patterns of debt accumulation, and the overall economic context. Using Survey of Consumer Finances data from 1989 through 2013, we compare wealth levels between and within the two groups that make up America’s dependents: the elderly and child households (households with a resident child aged 18 or younger). Over the observed period, the absolute wealth gap between elderly and child households in the United States increased substantially, and diverging trends in wealth accumulation exacerbated preexisting between-group disparities. Widening gaps were particularly pronounced among the least-wealthy elderly and child households. Differential demographic change in marital status and racial composition by subgroup do not explain the widening gap. We also find increasing wealth inequality within child households and the rise of a “parental 1%.” During a time of overall economic growth, the elderly have been able to maintain or increase their wealth, whereas many of the least-wealthy child households saw precipitous declines. Our findings suggest that many child households may lack sufficient assets to promote the successful flourishing of the next generation. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Safran, Elana; Hemmeter, Jeffrey; Phillips, John; Wilson, Nicholas
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2018

    Survey data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) suggest that less than 60% of individuals age 65 and over who are eligible for Supplemental Security (SSI) receive the benefit. SSI is a Federal income supplement program, that is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; and provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. The economic literature has identified at least three main barriers to SSI take-up among individuals age 65 and over. First, individuals may not be aware that they are eligible for SSI, which may be a particularly important barrier for individuals for whom being age 65 and over partly determines eligibility. Second, the expected magnitude of benefits affects take-up, with individuals with lower expectations about benefits less likely to participate in SSI. Third, potential SSI participants may view the application process as confusing and burdensome. We designed four letters to test these hypotheses using a randomized controlled field experiment with over 4 million individuals age 65-80 whose monthly...

    Survey data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) suggest that less than 60% of individuals age 65 and over who are eligible for Supplemental Security (SSI) receive the benefit. SSI is a Federal income supplement program, that is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; and provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. The economic literature has identified at least three main barriers to SSI take-up among individuals age 65 and over. First, individuals may not be aware that they are eligible for SSI, which may be a particularly important barrier for individuals for whom being age 65 and over partly determines eligibility. Second, the expected magnitude of benefits affects take-up, with individuals with lower expectations about benefits less likely to participate in SSI. Third, potential SSI participants may view the application process as confusing and burdensome. We designed four letters to test these hypotheses using a randomized controlled field experiment with over 4 million individuals age 65-80 whose monthly benefit is less than the SSI Federal Benefit Rate. Individuals were assigned to receive one of these four letter types through US mail or to a control condition (i.e. Business as usual): 

    1. The basic letter,
    2. The maximum benefit letter,
    3. The simplifying application process letter, and
    4. A letter combining the maximum benefit and the simplifying application letters.

    All letters include the basic information listed on Letter (1), allowing us to measure the incremental effect of the information on a more detailed letter (e.g., the maximum benefit statement on Letter (2)) by comparing take-up among recipients of the more detailed letter (e.g., Letter (2)) to take-up among recipients of Letter (1). Comparing take-up among recipients of Letter (1) to take-up among the control group (i.e., individuals not receiving a letter) yields an estimate of the effect of only being notified that it is likely that you are eligible. Letters were sent to 100,000 people in each of 4 letter conditions in September 2017, and the remainder served as a control. We tracked SSI application filing, SSI application allowed (i.e. Approved), and SSI payments using administrative data from the Social Security Administration at three, six, and nine months following the letters being sent. We will also conduct analyses that adjust the above results for beneficiary characteristics (e.g., age, sex, state of residence, previous SSI experience, etc.). We will conduct similar analyses after six and nine months to allow sufficient time for beneficiaries to respond to the notices. The full analysis will also draw conclusions about which version of the letter was most effective at encouraging applications and awards, and will explore the reasons why individuals were denied SSI if they applied. The APPAM presentation will be based on the nine-month results. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Wimer, Christopher; Kimberlin, Sara; Danielson, Caroline; Mattingly, Marybeth; Fisher, Jonathan; Bohn, Sarah
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    The purpose of this report is to describe recent trends in poverty in California. Throughout this report, we will feature a measure that is inspired by the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), as it improves on the Official Poverty Measure (OPM) in important ways. (Author abstract)

     

    The purpose of this report is to describe recent trends in poverty in California. Throughout this report, we will feature a measure that is inspired by the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), as it improves on the Official Poverty Measure (OPM) in important ways. (Author abstract)

     

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