strain18_getty images_education Getty Images

What Poor Children Need

When it comes to helping poor children in America grow up to enjoy successful adult lives, progressives and conservatives each have half the truth on their side. There is strong evidence to support both broad public spending programs and policies designed to encourage personal responsibility and stable households.

WASHINGTON, DC – What is the best way to help lower-income children climb the economic ladder? Progressives want to spend more public dollars on health care, education, employment programs, and tax credits for poor families, whereas conservatives stress the need for more personal responsibility, stable households with married parents, and work incentives in social spending programs.

There is growing evidence that both sides are right.

A new book-length report published by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Reducing Intergenerational Poverty (we are among the authors), offers a rigorous analysis of policies that have been shown to help poor children improve their adult outcomes. In addition, a new book by economist Melissa Kearney, The Two-Parent Privilege, provides strong evidence that growing up with two married parents generates important and lasting advantages for kids throughout their lives.