Saturday, August 10, 2019

Derek Thompson - The Myth of Welfare Dependency

Cash assistance isn’t just a moral imperative that raises living standards. It’s also a critical investment in the health and future careers of low-income kids.

I have written here in the past about neuroplasticity and gene expression and that getting a good start is important for a child to do well later on in life. I added that welfare should be seen as an investment for society as it would lower taxes in the long run because children from very poor backgrounds are more likely to be successful when they become adults and so contribute more to the community. They would also pay higher taxes as they would have better jobs which would reduce the taxes on the rest of us. Everyone wins.

But the standard conservative critique of Medicaid and other welfare programs is wrong on another plane entirely. It fails to account for the conclusion of the Prospera research: Anti-poverty programs can work wonders for their youngest beneficiaries. It’s true north of the border, as well. American adults whose families had access to prenatal coverage under Medicaid have lower rates of obesity, higher rates of high-school graduation, and higher incomes as adults than those from similar households in states without Medicaid, according to a 2015 paper from the economists Sarah Miller and Laura R. Wherry. Another paper found that children covered by Medicaid expansions went on to earn higher wages and require less welfare assistance as adults.
“Welfare helps people work” may sound like a strange and counterintuitive claim to some. But it is perfectly obvious when the word people in that sentence refers to low-income children in poor households. Poverty and lack of access to health care is a physical, psychological, and vocational burden for children. Poverty is a slow-motion trauma, and impoverished children are more likely than their middle-class peers to suffer from chronic physiological stress and exhibit antisocial behavior. It’s axiomatic that relieving children of an ambient trauma improves their lives and, indeed, relieved of these burdens, children from poorer households are more likely to follow the path from high-school graduation to college and then full-time employment.
Derek Thompson - The Myth of Welfare Dependency

The Myth of Welfare Dependency

In most countries, rich and poor people alike worry that social programs for low-income households end up weakening work incentives and create an underclass of indigents. In fact, recent research suggests just the opposite: the longer families receive stable and predictable support, the better they and their children do.

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