Reducing Poverty and Promoting
Family Economic Success
Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality
and Public Policy
Center for American Progress
May 4, 2009
U.S. Poverty and Child Poverty Rates, 1959-2007
Nearly 40 percent of children have incomes
below 200 percent of poverty
Under 100% 100%-200%
All children White Not Asian Black Hispanic
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 CPS data
Short and Long Term Poverty
• All Americans
– 1 in 3 are poor in a 13-year period.
– 5 percent are poor for at least 10 in 13 years.
– 35-36 percent ever poor in childhood.
– 6-8 percent poor 11 plus years.
• 23-28 percent African-American children, 3-4 percent
Sources: All – Blank, It Takes a Nation;
Children – Duncan, Longitudinal Indicators of Children's Poverty and Dependence.
Child Poverty in U.S.
high compared with other developed nations
• UNICEF report, using relative income measure:
– US ranked 24th of 24 nations on child poverty.
– US child poverty rate 22.7 percent, versus 11.3
– However, US ranked 5th on share of children in
household with working parent.
UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre: Child Poverty in Perspective:
An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Nations (2007)
Mobility Outcomes for Men Whose Fathers Were in Bottom Quintile
Remained in Climbed 1 to 3
Bottom 5th Quintiles Reached Top 5th
Denmark 25% 64% 14%
Finland 28% 64% 14%
Norway 28% 60% 12%
Sweden 26% 63% 11%
United Kingdom 30% 57% 12%
United States 42% 50% 8%
Source: Brookings Institution, summarizing findings from Jäntti et al. 2006. “American
Exceptionalism in a New Light: A Comparison of Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the Nordic
Countries, the United Kingdom and the United States”
Center for American Progress Task
Force on Poverty
• After Katrina, CAP convened Poverty Task
Force --- diverse group of experts and leaders.
• Task Force Charge:
– Make the case for why nation should address
– Make recommendations for what to do about it.
• Overarching recommendation:
– National goal of cutting poverty in half in ten
CAP Task Force Four-Pronged Strategy
Promote decent work: People should work, and work should pay
enough for workers and families to avoid poverty, meet basic
needs, save for future.
Provide opportunity for all: Children should grow up in conditions
that maximize their life chances. Adults should have opportunities
to connect to work, get more education, live in good
neighborhoods, move up in the workforce.
Ensure economic security: Americans should not fall into poverty
when they cannot work or work is unavailable, unstable, or pays
Help people build wealth: People should have assets that protect
them during unstable periods and permit them to climb the ladder
of economic mobility.
Guiding Principle of Progressive Universalism: Broad-based
help, with the most help to those who need it most.
Estimated Impacts on Reducing Poverty
Overall Poverty Child Poverty
Minimum -5% -6%
EITC -6% -4%
Child Tax -9% -20%
Child Care -8% -14.5%
Cumulative -26% -41%
Federal and State Roles
Parts of poverty reduction strategy necessarily federal:
• Single biggest program reducing poverty is social security
• Federal tax and other benefits programs play key roles
• Federal government can be countercyclical
• Can do more for states with least resources
Crucial role for states:
• Incubator for new ideas
• Organize service delivery for key populations
– unemployed workers, families, youth, others
• Coordinate, facilitate access to benefits
• Regulate and enforce on many business standards
President Obama and Poverty
• Goal of cutting poverty in half in 10 years.
• Extensive set of proposals, some already in Recovery
Act and Budget.
– refundable tax credits
– child care and early education, early learning challenge grants
– end child hunger by 2015
– Seven days paid sick days, expand Family and Medical Leave
– 20 Promise Neighborhoods (Harlem Children’s Zone replications
– $1 billion for transitional jobs and career pathways
– Green jobs, engage disconnected youth
– Prison to Work initiative
– Raise minimum wage
Minnesota: 6 broad strategies
• Restore work as a way out of poverty
• Refocus public assistance to streamline services,
support everyone’s capacity and potential
• Help Minnesotans build and maintain financial assets
• Revitalize communities through infrastructure and
person to person support
• Modernize education system
• Develop ongoing structure to monitor Minnesota’s
efforts to end poverty
New York City
• Mayor Bloomberg
– Commission for Economic Opportunity
– Center for Economic Opportunity
• Now operating multiple programs
– Expanded education access – CUNY ASAP,
accelerated LPN training
– Tax credits -- child care, EITC
– Office of Financial Literacy
– Opportunity NYC
NYC Strategic Approach
• Break cycle of intergenerational poverty by human
capital development strategy
• Toolbox to help working poor move up
• Skills and work experiences for out of school youth
• Intervene early for children 0-5
• Break down silos within government
• Use data and evaluation, allocate resources based on
• Share lessons learned, engage in national advocacy.
• Center for American Progress, From Poverty to Prosperity: A National
Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half,
• Legislative Report, Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020,
• NYC Center for Economic Opportunity, Early Achievements and Lessons
• Mark Greenberg, email@example.com or