A Hand Up: A Strategy to Reward Work, Expand Opportunity, and Reduce Poverty

Source: Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project

Poverty remains a pressing problem in the United States. Many of the 36 million Americans in poverty are working, but full-time work at the minimum wage does not provide enough income to escape poverty. This paper offers a three-part strategy to reduce poverty and strengthen growth across the income spectrum. First, the most effective antipoverty policy is to help people find a job that pays enough to support a family. This paper’s principal focus is on programs to reward and facilitate work. Second, a broader set of policies is necessary to prepare people to succeed, by investing in human capital and other critical needs. Finally, public policies should provide a more robust safety net and a set of social insurance policies to help people rebound if they do experience economic hardship, and reduce the likelihood of their falling below a certain economic level at any point. Together, these policies can raise the living standards of struggling families and allow everyone to share in our nation’s prosperity.

Full-text (36 pages)

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