Child Poverty

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Child Poverty Can Be Reduced Author(s): Robert D. Plotnick Source: The Future of Children, Vol. 7, No. 2, Children and Poverty (Summer - Autumn, 1997), pp. 72-87 Published by: Princeton University Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1602388 . Accessed: 16/05/2013 10:19 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

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Abstract

RobertD. Plotnick

Robert D. Plotnick, Ph.D., is professorof and publicaffairs social work at the Graduate School PublicAffairs of and School of Social at Work the University in of Washington Seattle.

Child poverty can be reduced by policies that help families earn more and supplement earned income with other sources of cash. A comprehensive antipovertystrategycould use a combination of these approaches. This article reviews recent U.S. experience with these broad approaches to reducing child poverty and discusses lessons from abroad for U.S. policymakers. The evidence reviewed suggests that, although policies to increase earned incomes among low-wage workers can help, these earnings gains will not be sufficient to reduce child poverty substantially.Government income support programs, tax policy, and child support payments from absent parents can be used to supplement earned incomes of poor families with children. Until recently, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was the main government assistance program for low-income families with children. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has recently replaced AFDC. This article explains why TANF benefits are likely to be less than AFDC benefits. The article also examines the effects of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income on child poverty. The most encouraging recent development in antipoverty policy has been the decline in the federal tax burden on poor families, primarilyas a result of the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), now the largest cash assistance program for families with children. In 1995, government transfer programs (including the value of cash, food, housing, medical care, and taxes) decreased child poverty by 38% (from 24.2% to 14.2% of children under 18). Child poverty may also be reduced by policies that increase contributions from absent single parents to support their children. Overall, evidence from the United States and other developed countries suggests that a variety of approaches to reducing child poverty are feasible. Implementation of effective programs will depend, however, on the nation's political willingness to devote more resources to this end.

to fight child poverty may be divided into two broad approaches. The first tries to prevent poverty by helping families earn more. The second reduces level of poverty generated by the marthe ket economy by supplementing low market incomes with other sources of cash. Supplements to a family'smarket (or pretransfer) income either bring its total after-tax,after-transfer income above the povertyline or reduce the between its income and the poverty line. These approaches can comgap

Policies

plement each other. Another broad antipoverty strategy seeks to mitigatethe adverse effects of poverty by providing food, health care, housing,...
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