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    1. Poverty: Facts, Causes and Consequences Hilary Hoynes University of California, Davis California Symposium on Poverty October 2009

    2. 2 In 2008, more than 1 in 6 children lived in poverty and 13.2 percent of all persons were poor. These numbers are expected to be higher in 2009. Government spending on anti-poverty programs in 2008 included $25 b. on TANF, $50 b. on the EITC, and $38 b. on Food Stamps. In this talk, I discuss what we know about the causes of poverty and its consequences for children and families.

    3. 3 Outline How do we define poverty? Facts: Poverty in the U.S. and in California Impacts of poverty on children and families Causes and how government programs can help

    4. 4 How do we define poverty? Facts: Poverty in the U.S. and in California Impacts of poverty on children and families Causes and how government programs can help

    5. 5 What is the Official Poverty Measure? A family is poor if their family income is less than the federal poverty threshold Poverty lines vary by family size and are adjusted for changes in prices each year Based on the cost of food in the 1960s (mult by 3) Poverty is a family conceptall persons in the same family have the same poverty status

    6. 6 Concerns about official poverty measure Income measure is pre-tax family income; includes only cash income Does not include Food Stamps or Earned Income Tax Credit Not adjusted for work-related expenses Not adjusted for regional variation in costs of living (e.g., housing) Definition of poverty has not changed since measure developed in early 1960s There are no easy solutions. In this presentation, I use the official measure

    7. 7 How do we define poverty? Facts: Poverty in the U.S. and in California Impacts of poverty on children and families Causes and how government programs can help

    8. 8 Begin with looking at poverty for the U.S. as a whole

    9. 9 Official Poverty Rate for the U.S.

    10. 10 Children have higher poverty than any other age group

    11. 11 U.S. success in improving poverty varies by age

    12. 12 Latinos and African Americans have high poverty rates

    13. 13 Female headed households have high poverty rates

    14. 14 Poverty dramatically declines with education

    15. 15 Poverty in California Poverty rates across groups in California mirror the patterns shown for the U.S. as a whole. There are important things to point out for California

    16. 16 In recent years, poverty rates have been higher in California

    17. 17 The same is true for child poverty

    18. 18 Poverty Varies Substantially Across Californias Regions

    19. 19 Most poor families have a worker

    20. 20 How do we define poverty? Facts: Poverty in the U.S. and in California Impacts of poverty on children and families Causes and how government programs can help

    21. 21 Poverty is measured and watched by virtually all developed countries. It is an important indicator of economic well-being In the U.S., poverty is associated with many adverse outcomes

    22. 22 Children who grow up poor are more likely to Not attend preschool Perform worse in school Drop out of high school, have lower educational attainment (Girls) Have a teen birth (Boys) Be incarcerated Live in poverty as adults Have worse health and shorter life expectancy Caution: It is difficult to know the role played by poverty in these correlations. There are many other factors involved.

    23. 23 How do we define poverty? Facts: Poverty in the U.S. and in California Impacts of poverty on children and families Causes and how government programs can help

    24. 24 (1) The Labor Market As we saw, most poor families contain workers Poverty is very closely tied to the conditions of the labor market Availability of jobs Wages paid at those jobs

    25. 25 Importance of job availability

    26. 26 Poverty moves with the unemployment rate

    27. 27 Poverty increased more in states that experienced larger increases in unemployment

    28. 28 Poverty increased more in states that experienced larger increases in unemployment

    29. 29 Importance of wages paid at those jobs

    30. 30 Wages for less skilled men have been falling since the early 1970s

    31. 31 No growth in family income at the bottom of the distribution (and significant growth at the top)

    32. 32 KEY: These figures show that economic growth does not guarantee reductions in poverty

    33. 33 (2) Government policies that reduce poverty (and why)

    34. 34 The Earned Income Tax Credit Refundable tax credit for working, low-income taxpayers with children (single and married) [Much smaller credit for childless] No credit if no family earnings EITC acts to supplement earnings. Maximum credit for 2009: $3043 for one-child families $5028 for families with two or more children Total cost in 2008 of the EITC is $40 b. compared to $25 b. for TANF and $38 b. for food stamps.

    35. 35 KEY: Maximum EITC credit helps families near poverty threshold!

    36. 36 How the EITC reduces poverty Key design feature of EITC (and what distinguishes it from traditional income support programs) is that eligibility requires earned income. The EITC transfers income to low income families with children WHILE encouraging work. The generosity of the EITC increased substantially with tax reforms in 1986, 1990, and 1993.

    37. 37 Illustrating how EITC encourages work and reduces poverty

    38. 38 Illustrating how EITC encourages work and reduces poverty

    39. 39 So, the EITC has the potential to increase incomes and reduce poverty through two channels: The EITC represents an increase in income for the family The EITC provides incentives to enter work, and thus increase earnings which increases family income.

    40. 40 Census estimates of poverty reduction due to EITC, 2003

    41. 41 BUT the success of the EITC is not measured by official poverty statistics Remember our definition of poverty? Poverty is based on PRE-TAX family income EITC operates through the tax system

    42. 42 (3) Government Assistance: Why U.S. cash welfare programs are unlikely to affect poverty

    43. 43 Cash Welfare Programs (TANF) Income support (welfare) programs are unlikely to affect poverty rates for two reasons: Benefit levels are low, unlikely to increase a households income over the poverty line. Benefits are targeted on those out of work; thereby discouraging work rather than encouraging it. [This does not mean the program is not important or useful. Rather that it simply should not affect poverty rates.]

    44. 44 Illustrating why TANF is unlikely to affect poverty

    45. 45 Illustrating why TANF is unlikely to affect poverty

    46. 46 One could use TANF to reduce poverty, but funding would have to be about four times the current funding

    47. 47 What we do know, however, is that the combination of welfare reform and the expansion of the EITC led to large increases in employment among female-headed families in the late 1990s. These increases in employment have the potential to reduce poverty.

    48. 48 Percent of Women Working (by Marital Status and Children)

    49. 49 Percent of Women Working (by Marital Status and Children)

    50. 50 Expansion of EITC and Welfare Reform has Radically Changed the Landscape for Low Income Families with Children

    51. 51 (4) More on government programs Food stamps is important (but again not measured in official poverty statistics) Minimum wages are a less targeted policy for reducing poverty (minimum wages not targeted on the poor)

    52. 52 (5) Demographics and poverty Growth in female headed households increases poverty Growth in immigration increases poverty

    53. 53 Concluding remarks Reducing poverty takes a commitment of resources Improve opportunities Invest in education from early childhood through access to college Encourage work and supplement income: Further expansions of the EITC Provide the necessary work supports (child care)