National Anti-poverty Study Will Pay New NYC Moms $4,000 A Year
Yoav Gonen | Apr 30, 2019
Topic category: Pilots & Experiments
FROM:The City

Researchers are giving 125 new New York moms living on tight budgets $4,000 per year to spend however they want as part of a national study on anti-poverty strategies, THE CITY has learned.

Participating mothers will get $333 in monthly payments for the first three years of their baby’s life to test the impact of unrestricted, reliable income on a child's development – and on household stress levels.

They’ll be compared with a group of 125 local moms who are paid $20 per month, or $240 per year, as part of a$16 million study that's also running in and around New Orleans, Omaha and Minneapolis-St. Paul. In all cases, the money will be accessible via a debit card.
“There’s been a growing interest in the notion of unrestricted cash and child allowance as anti-poverty policy,” said Matt Klein, director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, which is contributing $500,000 toward the research. Other funding comes from the National Institutes of Health and private foundations, according to the study website.

“One of the things this study is asking is, is the most straightforward and effective way to ensure that low-income children have developmental opportunities simply to ensure that their families have more income?” Klein said.

City officials say there are 57,563 families across the five boroughs with at least one child younger than 3 whose income falls below the federal poverty level —the threshold for to participate in the study. That line was at $24,858 for a family of four in 2017, the benchmark used by researchers.

The moms in the study are being identified shortly after giving birth at local hospitals. Researchers are focusing on kids from birth to age 3 because that believed to be the most important period of emotional and cognitive development in a child’s life.

Looking Toward European Model
A predictable stream of government payments per child — known as a “child allowance” — is a common poverty aide in some European countries. The system is being touted in federal legislation backed by Democrats as part of the2019 American Family Act.

The closest comparable program currently operating in the United States is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). But that benefit applies only to working families of a certain income and comes as a lump sum just once a year.
The American Family Act proposes to expand beyond the reach of EITC, set cash rewards as high as $3,600 per year per child, and pay them in monthly installments of up to $300.

In theUnited Kingdom, a family with two kids under 16 is entitled to around $2,000 per year of child benefits paid in monthly installments, depending on family income. The payments are roughly $4,800 per year for kids under 6 in Canada— and just over $4,000 for older children – with reduced payments once family income tops $22,600.
The team of researchers — from New York University, Teachers College at Columbia University, the University of Maryland, the University of Wisconsin andUniversity of California, Irvine – will look at everything from a child’s brain and emotional development to how moms choose to spend the debit-card cash

New York City is taking part in a national study where 125 mothers living on tight budgets will get $333 per month to help raise their youngchildren. Graphic: Screenshot of Baby’s First Years

“Ours is partly a science experiment but it’s partly a policy experiment,” said Greg Duncan, a professor at the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine, who is among the researchers running the study.
“There’s debates all the time about putting work requirements on food stamps. Should we expand the EITC? Should we cut those back?” he added. “All these debates are waged with an exclusive focus for the most part with what’s going to happen to moms’ work…[but] there hasn’t been a focus on kids.”
New York officials wouldn’t say whether the de Blasio administration would consider funding a local child allowance, but noted results from the study could inform future policy.

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Learn about anti-poverty strategies and how income affects childhood brain development. Brought to you by The Fund for Humanity.
How does income affect childhood brain development?

She and a team of economists and policy experts are working together to find out: Can we help kids in poverty simply by giving families more money? "The brain is not destiny," Noble says. "And if a child's brain can be changed, then anything is possible."

Neuroscientist and pediatrician Kimberly Noble is leading the Baby's First Years study.
Childhood poverty costs U.S. $1.03 trillion in a year, study finds

Childhood poverty cost $1.03 trillion in 2015, about 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States, according to a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Impoverished children grow up having fewer skills and are thus less able to contribute to the productivity of the economy,” said Mark R. Rank, the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare and one of the country’s foremost experts on income inequality. “They are also more likely to experience frequent health care problems and to engage in crime. These costs are borne by the children themselves, but ultimately by the wider society as well.”

These costs are clustered around the loss of economic productivity, increased health and crime costs, and increased costs as a result of child homelessness and maltreatment, finds the study, “Estimating the Economic Cost of Childhood Poverty in the United States,” published March 30 in the journal Social Work Research.

Childhood poverty cost $1.03 trillion in 2015, about 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States, according to a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.
Benefits help slash Alberta's child poverty rate

Alberta has seen a dramatic plunge in child poverty rates, driven largely by provincial and federal benefits targeted at low-income families, according to a University of Calgary economist.

Figures released by Statistics Canada on Tuesday show Alberta's rate was cut in half between 2015 and 2017, falling from 10 per cent of children living in poverty to five per cent.

Economist Trevor Tombe says the decline is largely due to the Canada Child Benefit introduced by the federal Liberal government and the Alberta Child Benefit — a policy proposal introduced by former PC premier Jim Prentice and later enacted under Alberta's NDP government.

"So those two policies, combined, really dramatically increase the amount of child benefits that Alberta families receive, Tombe said.

The increase amounts to "a little more than double" what low-income families were receiving in 2014, Tombe said.

The child poverty rate was cut in half in Alberta between 2015 and 2017, according to Statistics Canada.

Why should adults with kids get more basic income?

What about this question instead:

"Why should kids get basic incomes too, and not just adults?"

They might look like they are basically the same, but they contain different viewpoints.

Here's the deal. I advocate a universal basic income of $1,000 per adult and $300 per kid per month. That's my suggestion as a starting point, and I think the partial basic income for kids is extremely important.

If you view a partial basic income of $300/mo per kid as a bonus for some adults, not others, and nothing for kids, you might view it as unfair.

If you view a partial basic income of $300/mo for kids as being for the kids themselves, while all adults earn $1,000, you might view it as entirely fair.

So, as is not entirely uncommon, it depends on how we look at it.

I want to make sure we understand each of these perspectives and how both can think of themselves as being the fair one, and the other the unfair one, so when we debate about this in the years ahead, we can better understand each other.

The question of child allowances
Healthier kids? Just hand their families cash.

It might sound like a commonplace, but if we want American adults to be healthier in the future, we should invest in children today. The food we eat when we’re young, the air we breathe, even our social and emotional environment, all shape the development of our bodies and minds. Poor children start out with a health disadvantage from the beginning, breathing dirtier air, drinking tainted water, eating inferior food, studying in bad schools which they leave sooner, and in general growing up with more stress and fewer opportunities. All of these factors have been shown to harm their physical health in the short and the long run. Poor children turn into unhealthy adults.

But what’s the most effective way to fight the health effects of poverty? That answer isn’t as obvious. The U.S. welfare system, which should combat poverty and its adverse effects, focuses primarily on ensuring that only the deserving poor receive aid. It employs stringent systems to assess eligibility for every program designed to help the poor. Conditions are attached on parental behavior, such as work requirements. And most support is in-kind: Instead of cash, the U.S. prefers to offer food to the hungry, and health insurance to the uninsured, etc. These policies seek to keep program costs down. But in the end, the U.S. has among the highest child poverty rates in the developed world, with almost 1 in 5 children growing up in poverty.

It sounds crude. But a welfare experiment from 100 years ago offers a dramatic lesson in what really helps poor children.