A Roadmap to Reducing
Committee on Building an Agenda to Reduce the
Number of Children in Poverty by Half in 10 Years
Greg Duncan and Suzanne Le Menestrel, Editors
Board on Children, Youth, and Families
Committee on National Statistics
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
A Consensus Study Report of
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This activity was supported by contracts and grants between the National Academy of Sciences and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Inc. (2017032); the Foundation for Child Development (NAS-03-2017); the Joyce Foundation (17-37856); the Russell Sage Foundation (83-18-04); Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHSP233201400020B, Order No. HHSP2337058); the William T. Grant Foundation (187516); and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (P0130499). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-48398-8
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-48398-0
Library of Congress Control Number: 2019945735
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25246
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/25246.
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COMMITTEE ON BUILDING AN AGENDA TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN POVERTY BY HALF IN 10 YEARS
GREG J. DUNCAN (Chair), University of California, Irvine
J. LAWRENCE ABER, New York University
DOLORES ACEVEDO-GARCIA, Brandeis University
JANET CURRIE, Princeton University
BENARD P. DREYER, New York University School of Medicine
IRWIN GARFINKEL, Columbia University
RON HASKINS, Brookings Institution
HILARY HOYNES, University of California, Berkeley
CHRISTINE JAMES-BROWN, Child Welfare League of America
VONNIE C. McLOYD, University of Michigan
ROBERT MOFFITT, Johns Hopkins University
CYNTHIA OSBORNE, University of Texas at Austin
ELDAR SHAFIR, Princeton University
TIMOTHY SMEEDING, University of Wisconsin–Madison
DON WINSTEAD, JR., Don Winstead Consulting, LLC
SUZANNE LE MENESTREL, Study Director
PAMELLA ATAYI, Program Coordinator
SARAH BLANKENSHIP, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow (January to April 2017)
CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Senior Scholar
REBEKAH HUTTON, Associate Program Officer (until March 2018)
CHRIS MACKIE, Senior Program Officer (until April 2018)
DARA SHEFSKA, Research Associate (from March 2018)
ELIZABETH TOWNSEND, Associate Program Officer (from March 2018)
BOARD ON CHILDREN, YOUTH, AND FAMILIES
ANGELA DIAZ (Chair), Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
HAROLYN BELCHER, Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
W. THOMAS BOYCE, University of California, San Francisco
DAVID V. B. BRITT, Sesame Workshop (retired CEO)
RICHARD F. CATALANO, University of Washington School of Social Work
DIMITRI CHRISTAKIS, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, University of Washington
JEFFREY W. HUTCHINSON, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
JACQUELINE JONES, Foundation for Child Development
JAMES M. PERRIN, Harvard Medical School and MassGeneral Hospital for Children
MARTIN J. SEPÚLVEDA, IBM Corporation (retired)
MARTIN H. TEICHER, Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital
JONATHAN TODRES, Georgia State University College of Law
NATACHA BLAIN, Director
COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS
ROBERT M. GROVES (Chair), Georgetown University
FRANCINE BLAU, Cornell University
MARY ELLEN BOCK, Purdue University
ANNE C. CASE, Princeton University
MICHAEL E. CHERNEW, Harvard University
JANET CURRIE, Princeton University
DONALD A. DILLMAN, Washington State University
CONSTANTINE GATSONIS, Brown University
JAMES S. HOUSE, University of Michigan
THOMAS L. MESENBOURG, U.S. Census Bureau (retired)
SARAH M. NUSSER, Iowa State University
COLM A. O’MUIRCHEARTAIGH, The University of Chicago
JEROME P. REITER, Duke University
ROBERTO RIGOBON, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
JUDITH A. SELTZER, University of California, Los Angeles
EDWARD H. SHORTLIFFE, Columbia University and Arizona State University
BRIAN HARRIS-KOJETIN, Director
CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Senior Scholar
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The U.S. Congress asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide a nonpartisan, evidence-based report that would provide its assessment of the most effective means for reducing child poverty by half in the next 10 years. The National Academies appointed the Committee on Building an Agenda to Reduce the Number of Children in Poverty by Half in 10 Years to address its charge. The committee thanks the following sponsors of this study for their support: the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; the Foundation for Child Development; the Joyce Foundation; the Russell Sage Foundation; the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the William T. Grant Foundation; and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
This report would not have been possible without the contributions of many people. Special thanks go to the members of the committee who dedicated extensive time, expertise, and energy to the drafting of the report. The committee also thanks the members of the staff of the National Academies for their significant contributions to the report: Suzanne Le Menestrel, Connie Citro, Rebekah Hutton, Chris Mackie, Dara Shefska, and Elizabeth Townsend. We also thank Jennifer Duer, University of California, Irvine, for her invaluable assistance in developing graphics and tables for the report. Pamella Atayi provided key administrative and logistical support and made sure that committee meetings ran smoothly. We also thank Michelle Burbage for her research assistance.
The committee is also grateful to Azzure Beale, Anthony Bryant, and Lisa Alston for their administrative and financial assistance on this project. From the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education Office of Reports and Communication, Kirsten Sampson Snyder, Viola Horek, Patricia L. Morison, Douglas Sprunger, and Yvonne Wise shepherded the report through the review and production process and assisted with its communication and dissemination. The committee also thanks the National Academies Press staff, Clair Woolley and Holly Sten, for their assistance with the production of the final report; Daniel Bearss and Rebecca Morgan in the National Academies research library for their assistance with fact checking and literature searches; the report’s editor, Marc DeFrancis, for his skillful and thoughtful editing; and Jay Christian for his elegant graphic design work. Finally, throughout the project, Natacha Blain, director of the Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Mary Ellen O’Connell, and Monica Feit provided helpful oversight. We also thank Melissa Welch-Ross for her helpful comments.
Many individuals volunteered significant time and effort to address and educate the committee during our public information sessions. Their willingness to share their perspectives, research, and personal experiences was essential to the committee’s work. We thank: MaryLee Allen, Children’s Defense Fund; Douglas Besharov, University of Maryland; Gary Bonner, Center for Urban Families; Roy Brooks, Tarrant County, Texas; Miles Corak, Graduate Center of the City University of New York; Marla Dean, Bright Beginnings; Jesús Gerena, Family Independence Initiative; Olivia Golden, Center for Law and Social Policy; Richard Hendra, MDRC; Tara Lobin, Fairfax County Public Schools; Nora Morales, Maryland Public Schools; Edgar Olsen, University of Virginia; Anita Sampson, Maryland Public Schools; Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution; Kelsey Schaberg, MDRC; Arloc Sherman, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Satira Streeter, Ascensions Psychological and Community Services, Inc; Bruce Western, Harvard University; and W. Bradford Wilcox, University of Virginia.
We also thank the researchers who conducted original analyses and prepared commissioned papers for the committee: Randall Akee, University of California, Los Angeles and the Brookings Institution; Rosemary Hyson, Dahlia Remler, and Sanders D. Korenman, City University of New York; Thierry Kruten and Teresa Munzi, Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg; Emilia Simeonova, Johns Hopkins University; and Christopher Wimer, Columbia University. The committee would also like to extend a special acknowledgement to the Transfer Income Model Version 3 project team at The Urban Institute for their expert analyses, patience, thoroughness, and attention to detail: Linda Giannarelli, Joyce Morton, Kevin Werner, and Laura Wheaton.
The committee also thanks the following individuals for their contributions to this study and the final report: Brian Baird, David Britt, Dorothy Duncan, Camille Gamboa, David H. Greenberg, Jeff Hutchinson, Arthur Lupia, Nancy McArdle, Clemens Noelke, Sheri Roder, Adam Thomas, and James Ziliak. Many individuals also submitted memos for the committee’s consideration; a listing of these individuals can be found in Appendix C in this report.
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Eloise Anderson (retired), Department of Children and Families, State of Wisconsin; Lenette Azzi-Lessing, School of Social Work, Boston University; Robert Doar, Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute; Kenneth A. Dodge, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University; Kathryn J. Edin, Department of Sociology, Princeton University; Gary W. Evans, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University; Wade F. Horn, Health and Human Services Marketplace Leader, Deloitte Consulting, LLC; Sara Rosenbaum, Department of Health Policy and Management, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University; H. Luke Schaefer, Poverty Solutions and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan; Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University; Michael R. Strain, John G. Searle Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; Scott Winship, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and The University of Chicago; and Barbara L. Wolfe, Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by V. Joseph Hotz, Department of Economics, Duke University, and Joseph P. Newhouse, Harvard University. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
One of the pleasures of serving on a National Academies committee such as ours is that it provides opportunities to strike up friendships with
individuals with very different interests and viewpoints. It also allows us to share in the joys and sorrows of fellow committee members. We dedicate this report to the memory of Joseph Smeeding, a bright young doctoral student at the University of Arizona and son of committee member Timothy Smeeding. He died on January 12, 2018, after a 2-year battle with glioblastoma multiforme.
Greg Duncan, Chair
Committee on Building an Agenda to Reduce the Number of Children in Poverty by Half in 10 Years
Temporal and Other Considerations Associated with the Statement of Task
How the Committee Selected Programs to Review
Considerations in Estimating Policy and Program Impacts
2 A Demographic Portrait of Child Poverty in the United States
A Demographic Portrait of U.S. Child Poverty in 2015
Historical Trends in Child Poverty, 1967–2016
Child Poverty in the United States and Other English-Speaking Developed Countries
3 Consequences of Child Poverty
Why Childhood Poverty Can Matter for Child Outcomes
Macroeconomic Costs of Child Poverty to Society
4 How the Labor Market, Family Structure, and Government Programs Affect Child Poverty
Forces that Shape Child Poverty
The Changing Role of Government Taxes and Transfers
Child-Related Income Transfers and Tax Benefits
Effects of Income Transfers and Tax Benefits on Child Poverty in 2015
Effects of Government Benefits on Child Poverty in the United States and Other English-Speaking Countries
5 Ten Policy and Program Approaches to Reducing Child Poverty
Program and Policy Options in 10 Areas
Modifications Examined for 10 Policy and Program Areas
Impacts on Poverty, Cost, and Employment
6 Packages of Policies and Programs That Reduce Poverty and Deep Poverty Among Children
A Work-Based Poverty-Reduction Package
A Work-Based and Universal Supports Poverty-Reduction Package
A Means-Tested Supports and Work Poverty-Reduction Package
A Universal Supports and Work Poverty-Reduction Package
Simulating the Impacts of the Four Program Packages
7 Other Policy and Program Approaches to Child Poverty Reduction
Health, Health Insurance, and Measuring Poverty
Policies Toward American Indian and Alaska Native Children
8 Contextual Factors That Influence the Effects of Anti-Poverty Policies and Programs
Income Stability and Predictability
Equitable and Ready Access to Programs
Criminal Justice System Involvement
9 Recommendations for Research and Data Collection
Improvements in Data Collection and Measurement
Continued Monitoring and Program Evaluation
Coordinating Research and Data Priorities Across Departments
Note: Papers commissioned by the committee are available on the National Academies Press website at http://www.nap.edu/25246.
A Biosketches of Committee Members and Staff
C Authors of Memos Submitted to the Committee
ON-LINE APPENDIXES (Available: http://www.nap.edu/25246 under the Resources tab)
D Technical Appendixes to Select Chapters
2-1. A Brief History of Poverty Measurements in the United States
2-2. Types of Income-Based Poverty Measures and the Advantages of Using the Adjusted SPM for Policy Analysis
2-3. Consumption-Based Poverty Measures
2-4. How Equivalence Scales Are Used to Adjust Poverty Thresholds
2-5. Cost-of-Living Adjustments in Poverty Thresholds and Benefits
2-6. Differences Between the Resource Measures Used by the OPM and SPM Poverty Measures
2-7. Poverty Among American Indian and Alaska Native Children
2-8. The Changing Demography of Children, Including Children in Poverty
2-9. Distribution of Child Population Across Persistently High-Poverty Counties
2-10. Anchored and Unanchored Methods of Calculating SPM Poverty Over Time Anchored and Unanchored Methods of Calculating SPM Poverty Over Time
2-11. Poverty Measurement Across Countries: Cross-Country Poverty Lines and Child Poverty Rates
3-1. Associations Between Poverty and Child Outcomes
4-1. Definitions Pertaining to Chapter 4 from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
4-2. Government Policies Affecting Child Poverty in Australia and Ireland
5-1. Adjusting Estimates of Poverty Reduction for Behavioral Effects
5-2. Modifications to the Earned Income Tax Credit
5-3. Modifications to Child Care Subsidies
5-4. Modifications to the Minimum Wage
5-6. Modifications to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
5-7. Modifications to Housing Programs
5-8. Modifications to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program
5-9. Introducing a Child Allowance
5-10. A Child Support Assurance Program
5-11. Changes in Immigrant Policies
5-12. Reducing Child Poverty through a Universal Basic Income
5-13. Construction of Summary Tables 5-1 and 5-2
F Urban Institute TRIM3 Technical Specifications: Using Microsimulation to Assess the Policy Proposals of the National Academies Committee on Reducing Child Poverty
Policy Changes to Reduce Child Poverty
Overview of Simulation Assumptions
Immigrant Eligibility Policies
Simulations Using 2018 Tax Law