Papers: Poverty

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Policies to Address Poverty in America, eBook Download

June 2014 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty

The Hamilton Project asked academic experts to develop policy proposals confronting the various challenges of America's poorest citizens, and to introduce innovative approaches to addressing poverty. When combined, the scope and impact of these proposals has the potential to vastly improve the lives of the poor. The resulting 14 policy memos are included in The Hamilton Project's Policies to Address Poverty in America. The main areas of focus include promoting early childhood development, supporting disadvantaged youth, building worker skills, and improving safety net and work support.
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Smarter, Better, Faster: The Potential for Predictive Analytics and Rapid-Cycle Evaluation to Improve Program Development and Outcomes

June 2014 • Scott Cody, Andrew AsherEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Poverty, State & Local, Technology & Innovation

In this policy memo, Scott Cody and Andrew Asher propose that federal, state, and local agencies conduct thorough needs assessments to determine if predictive analytics and rapid-cycle evaluation can be used to improve the delivery of social services programs. This proposal aims to provide more effective services for individuals living in poverty by targeting services appropriately, and by identifying effective program improvements. This proposal is chapter fourteen of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.

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Designing Thoughtful Minimum Wage Policy at the State and Local Levels

June 2014 • Arindrajit DubeEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, Arindrajit Dube proposes that state and local governments consider median wages and local costs when setting minimum wages, index the minimum wage for inflation, and engage in regional wage setting. This proposal aims to raise the earnings of low-wage workers with minimal negative impacts on employment. This proposal is chapter thirteen of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.

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Encouraging Work Sharing to Reduce Unemployment

June 2014 • Katharine Abraham, Susan HousemanEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, Katharine G. Abraham and Susan N. Houseman propose that the federal government subsidize state work-sharing payments during economic downturns, make work sharing a requirement for state unemployment insurance systems, change federal requirements to modify provisions of state work-sharing plans that may discourage employer participation, and provide states with adequate funding to administer work-sharing programs. This proposal, targeted at workers who would otherwise become unemployed during cyclical downturns, aims to reduce the number of layoffs during economic downturns. This proposal is chapter twelve of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.

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Building on the Success of the Earned Income Tax Credit

June 2014 • Hilary HoynesEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local, Tax Policy

In this policy memo, Hilary Hoynes proposes expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by raising the benefits for families with one child to be on par with the benefits for families with two children. This proposal aims to strengthen work incentives for low-income, one-child families; raise 410,000 people—including 131,000 children—out of poverty; and increase after-tax income by about $1,000 for one-child EITC beneficiaries, leading to improvements in health and children’s cognitive skills. This proposal is chapter eleven of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.

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Providing Disadvantaged Workers with Skills to Succeed in the Labor Market

June 2014 • Sheena McConnell, Irma Perez-Johnson, Jillian BerkEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, Sheena McConnell, Irma Perez-Johnson, and Jillian Berk offer proposals to help disadvantaged adult workers with the skills necessary to succeed in the labor market. The authors call for an increase in funding in the Workforce Investment Act Adult program. They also propose a series of four steps that state and local workforce boards can take to better assist disadvantaged adult workers in obtaining skills. This proposal is chapter nine of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Building Skills.

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Improving Employment Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students

June 2014 • Harry J. HolzerEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, Harry J. Holzer proposes the creation of financial incentives for public colleges and university systems to offer classes in high-return fields and for employers to offer more training to their employees. This proposal, targeted at disadvantaged youth who have some academic preparation for higher education, aims to generate better labor market outcomes and wage gains. This proposal is chapter eight of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Building Skills.

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Expanding Apprenticeship Opportunities in the United States

June 2014 • Robert LermanEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, Robert I. Lerman proposes a series of targeted federal and state-level initiatives to expand access to registered apprenticeship programs by creating marketing initiatives, building on existing youth apprenticeship programs, extending the use of federal subsidies, and designating occupational standards. This proposal, targeted toward at-risk youth and middle-skill adults in low-wage jobs, aims to improve human capital and raise earnings for apprentices. This proposal is chapter seven of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Building Skills.

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Addressing the Academic Barriers to Higher Education

June 2014 • Bridget Terry LongEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, Bridget Terry Long proposes that school districts, community colleges, university systems, and state and federal governments reform the college remediation system by improving placement in remediation classes, providing better remediation services, and adopting measures to prevent the need for remediation. This proposal, targeted at disadvantaged, academically underprepared students in high school and college, aims to reduce the need for college-level remediation and to better match underprepared students with effective resources to equip them with the skills they need to succeed in college and in the workforce. This proposal is chapter six of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Supporting Disadvantaged Youth.

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Expanding Summer Employment Opportunities for Low-Income Youth

June 2014 • Amy Ellen Schwartz, Jacob Leos-UrbelEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, Amy Ellen Schwartz and Jacob Leos-Urbel propose that the U.S. Department of Labor distribute federal grants to states for municipalities to provide summer employment to disadvantaged youth, first through a pilot program and then through a nationwide expansion. This proposal, targeted at low-income youth who are enrolled in or have recently graduated from high school, aims to increase school attendance, improve educational outcomes, and reduce violent behavior and crime. This proposal is chapter five of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Supporting Disadvantaged Youth.

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Designing Effective Mentoring Programs for Disadvantaged Youth

June 2014 • Phillip LevineEducation, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty

In this policy memo, Phillip B. Levine proposes that nongovernmental organizations—including nonprofits, foundations, and charitable organizations—as well as private-sector entities expand community-based mentoring programs, such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, in accordance with a set of best practices. This proposal, targeted at disadvantaged youth who have few or no adult role models in their lives, aims to improve educational and labor market outcomes for disadvantaged youth. This proposal is chapter four of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Supporting Disadvantaged Youth.

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Reducing Unintended Pregnancies for Low-Income Women

June 2014 • Isabel V. Sawhill, Joanna VenatorEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Health Care, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, Isabel Sawhill and Joanna Venator propose that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Population Affairs, in conjunction with state governments, reduce unintended pregnancies through a social marketing campaign to encourage more young women to use long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). This proposal, targeted at unmarried women between the ages of 15 and 30, aims to expand awareness so more low-income women use a LARC or other method of contraception, thereby reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and lowering the number of children born into poverty. This proposal is chapter three of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Promoting Early Childhood Development.

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Addressing the Parenting Divide to Promote Early Childhood Development for Disadvantaged Children

June 2014 • Ariel KalilEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, Ariel Kalil proposes that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families create a task force supporting the collection of evidence to develop more-effective parenting interventions and to promote improved child development in early years. This proposal, targeted at low-income families with young children, will collect evidence on successful parenting interventions for young children through rigorous experiments, and will develop new interventions that are lower-cost and better-matched to families’ needs. This proposal is chapter two of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Promoting Early Childhood Development.

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Expanding Preschool Access for Disadvantaged Children

June 2014 • Elizabeth U. Cascio, Diane Whitmore SchanzenbachEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, Elizabeth U. Cascio and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach propose a framework for state and local governments calling for the establishment of  high-quality programs in areas where preschool programs do not exist, improved preschool quality in states and localities with subpar programs, and expanded access in areas where high-quality programs already exist. This proposal aims to reduce the income-based gap in school readiness between disadvantaged and higher-income preschool-aged children, and to improve school outcomes for disadvantaged preschool children. This proposal is chapter one of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Promoting Early Childhood Development.

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Policies to Address Poverty in America, Introduction

June 2014 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. Harris, Karen L. AndersonEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local, Tax Policy

The introduction to The Hamilton Project’s new volume, Policies to Address Poverty in America, presents an overview of America’s poverty crisis, and makes the case for why poverty belongs on the national policy agenda. The introduction also  frames the 14 policy proposals that are part of the volume, and the particular aspects of poverty they address. The proposals fall into four general categories: promoting early childhood development, supporting disadvantaged youth, building skills, and improving safety net and work support. 

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Supporting Low-Income Workers through Refundable Child-Care Credits

June 2014 • James P. ZiliakEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local

In this policy memo, James P. Ziliak proposes converting the federal Child and Dependent Care Credit from a nonrefundable tax credit to a refundable one, capping eligibility at $70,000 and making the credit a progressive function of income, child age, and use of licensed care facilities. This proposal, targeted at low- and middle-income families with children under the age of twelve, aims to increase labor force participation, disposable income, and the use of higher-quality child care. This proposal is chapter ten of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.

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Ten Economic Facts about Crime and Incarceration in the United States

May 2014 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Poverty, State & Local

This Hamilton Project policy memo provides ten economic facts highlighting recent trends in crime and incarceration in the United States. Specifically, it explores the characteristics of criminal offenders and victims;  the historically unprecedented level of incarceration in the United States; and  evidence on both the fiscal and social implications of current policy on taxpayers and those imprisoned.

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Think Before You Act: A New Approach to Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout

May 2014 • Jens Ludwig, Anuj ShahEconomic Security, Education, Effective Government, Poverty, State & Local

A growing body of research in psychology and behavioral economics suggests that a great deal of everyone’s behavior happens intuitively and automatically, with little deliberate thought. In this paper, Jens Ludwig and Anuj Shah propose a five-year strategy for scaling out behaviorally informed interventions—such as the "Becoming a Man" (BAM) program —to help disadvantaged youths recognize high-stakes situations in which their automatic responses could be maladaptive and may lead to trouble.
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A New Approach to Reducing Incarceration While Maintaining Low Rates of Crime

May 2014 • Steven Raphael, Michael StollEconomic Security, Effective Government, Poverty, State & Local

The United States incarcerates people at a higher rate than any other country in the world. Large increases in the U.S. incarceration rate over the past three decades have decreased crime but generated substantial costs. In this paper, Steven Raphael and Michael Stoll propose reforms that would reduce incarceration while maintaining a low crime rate.

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The Unequal Burden of Crime and Incarceration on America’s Poor

April 2014 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Poverty, State & Local

Previewing a forthcoming event and paper series, The Hamilton Project highlights the disproportionate burden of crime and incarceration on America’s poor. For too many Americans, that means living in a community in which opportunities are limited, and fear of violence has shaped daily lives and altered childhoods.

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The Hamilton Project Policy Response to the 2014 State of the Union Address

January 2014 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Energy & Environment, Global Economy, Infrastructure, Poverty, State & Local, Tax Policy, Technology & Innovation

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke of a “breakthrough year for America” and foreshadowed a “year of action.” He focused on ways to expand opportunities for Americans by enhancing employment and education options for low-and middle-income citizens, developing more robust worker training programs, investing in America through infrastructure investments and energy innovation, the importance of making progress on immigration reform, and more. Since its launch in 2006, The Hamilton Project has released a range of targeted policy proposals that provide innovative, evidence-based approaches to addressing many of the policy priorities set forth in the Presidents address.

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Hamilton Project Work on Higher Education: Policy Proposals to Promote Access and Affordability

January 2014 • Economic Security, Education, Poverty

On January 16, President Obama hosted college and university presidents from around the country for a summit to discuss new approaches for promoting college access, with a focus on reaching low-income students. The Hamilton Project has produced significant work highlighting the importance of higher education for economic mobility, in addition to a series of papers by outside experts on improving college access and affordability. A menu of Hamilton Project work on this topic is included for easy reference.

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The “Ripple Effect” of a Minimum Wage Increase on American Workers

January 2014 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty

In this month’s Hamilton Project employment analysis, we consider the “ripple effects” of a minimum wage increase on near-minimum wage workers, finding that a minimum wage increase could benefit up to 35 million workers.

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The Importance of Unemployment Insurance for American Families & the Economy: Take 2

December 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty

In the absence of congressional action to extend unemployment insurance, 1.3 million Americans will immediately lose their benefits on December 28th. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project reexamines unemployment insurance and highlights evidence suggesting that extended benefits provide a sizable boost for workers and the economy.

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A Dozen Facts about America’s Struggling Lower-Middle Class

December 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, Tax Policy

These economic facts focus on two key challenges facing lower-middle-class families: food insecurity and the low return to work for families who lose tax and transfer benefits as their earnings increase.

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Giving Secondary Earners a Tax Break: A Proposal to Help Low- and Middle-Income Families

December 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Lesley TurnerPoverty, Economic Security, Employment & Wages, Effective Government, Tax Policy

The current tax system hampers low- and middle-income families who add secondary earners to the workforce to augment their primary breadwinner’s income. In a new Hamilton Project discussion paper, Melissa Kearney and Lesley Turner propose a secondary earner tax deduction that would help make work pay for dual-earner families.

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Strengthening SNAP for a More Food-Secure, Healthy America

December 2013 • Diane Whitmore SchanzenbachPoverty, Employment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government, State & Local

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly known as the Food Stamp Program—is an essential part of America’s social safety net. In a new Hamilton Project discussion paper, Diane Schanzenbach proposes five reforms that could strengthen SNAP, including incentives for participants to purchase healthier foods and improvements to the benefit formula.

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Hunger and the Important Role of SNAP as an American Safety Net

November 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Health Care, Poverty

In this month’s economic analysis, The Hamilton Project focuses on two critical issues related to SNAP: (1) the widespread existence of both food insecurity and obesity among low-income children in the United States, and (2) the role of SNAP in fighting poverty during times of weak labor markets. SNAP participation rises and falls in lockstep with the unemployment rate, highlighting SNAP’s role as a safety-net program that bolsters family resources when employment and wages are low.

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Sequestration’s Threat to America’s Most Vulnerable

March 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyPoverty, Employment & Wages, Effective Government, Economic Security

In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project looks at current poverty trends in the United States, the important role of government support programs, and how sequestration could remove critical aspects of the safety net in the midst of continued labor-market weakness. The Project finds sequestration could throw many American families back into poverty during this sensitive period of economic recovery by cutting the very programs that are helping them stay above water.

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The Hamilton Project Policy Response to the State of the Union Address

February 2013 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Energy & Environment, Global Economy, Health Care, Infrastructure, Poverty, State & Local, Tax Policy, Technology & Innovation

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama outlined an ambitious second-term agenda focusing on policies to help strengthen America’s middle class through broad-based economic growth. Since its launch in 2006, The Hamilton Project has released a range of targeted policy proposals that provide innovative, evidence-based approaches to address many of the priorities set forth in this year’s address, which we offer as a resource to policymakers in response to specific ideas mentioned by the President this week.

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The Marriage Gap:  The Impact of Economic and Technological Change on Marriage Rates

February 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEmployment & Wages, Economic Security, Poverty

The Hamilton Project examines the decline the marriages over the last 50 years, highlighting the correlation between income level and likelihood of marrying. The decline in marriage is concentrated among less-educated, lower-income Americans.

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Building America’s Job Skills with Effective Workforce Programs: A Training Strategy to Raise Wages and Increase Work Opportunities

November 2011 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEmployment & Wages, Education, Global Economy, Economic Security, Poverty

Amid the Great Recession and rapid technological changes, both workers with less education and workers who have been displaced from long-tenured jobs face challenges because they lack the particular skills that employers demand for good-paying jobs. In a new Hamilton Project strategy paper, Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney address the importance of developing workers’ skills through training and workforce development programs, and examine newly available evidence on policies that boost job opportunities and wages.

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Raising Job Quality and Skills for American Workers: Creating More-Effective Education and Workforce Development Systems in the States

November 2011 • Harry J. HolzerEmployment & Wages, Education, Economic Security, Global Economy, Poverty

Less educated workers often experience prolonged periods of unemployment and stagnating wages because they lack the skills necessary to compete in a global economy. In a new Hamilton Project paper, Harry J. Holzer proposes a set of competitive grants to fund education, training, and career counseling initiatives that feature private sector connections based on the experience of existing successful workforce development programs.

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Policies to Reduce High-Tenured Displaced Workers’ Earnings Losses Through Retraining

November 2011 • Louis S. Jacobson, Daniel G. Sullivan, Robert J. LaLondeEmployment & Wages, Education, Poverty, Global Economy, Economic Security

After being displaced from long-tenured jobs, workers often experience persistent, significant earnings losses. New research suggests that retraining in certain “high-return” fields can substantially reduce these losses. In a new Hamilton Project paper, Louis S. Jacobson, Robert J. LaLonde and Daniel G. Sullivan propose the establishment of a Displaced Worker Training (DWT) Program to distribute grants to displaced workers so they can obtain longer-term training to substantially increase their earnings. The DWT Program would also leverage the nation’s One-Stop Career Centers to assess and counsel grantees.

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June’s Employment Numbers Highlight America’s Increasingly Distressed Communities

July 2010 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEconomic Security, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local

June’s employment numbers highlight that our economic recovery is not yet on solid footing. An analysis by The Hamilton Project digs into the regional distribution of these unemployment trends and finds that, by one measure, the five hardest-hit states are Alabama, Delaware, Colorado, Georgia, and Utah.

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Improving the Measurement of Poverty

December 2008 • Rebecca M. Blank, Mark H. GreenbergPoverty

The Hamilton Project held a policy forum and released a discussion paper by Rebecca Blank and Mark Greenberg on the need for a new national poverty measure that better reflects the actual economic conditions of low-income Americans.

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From Prison to Work: A Proposal for a National Prisoner Reentry Program

December 2008 • Bruce WesternEmployment & Wages, Poverty, Effective Government

This paper proposes a national prisoner reentry program whose core element is up to a year of transitional employment available to all parolees in need of work.

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Getting More from Low-Income Housing Assistance

September 2008 • Edgar O. OlsenPoverty

Edgar Olsen examines shortfalls with the current system of low-income housing assistance and proposes a transition to an entitlement housing assistance program that relies exclusively on tenant-based assistance.
 

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New Hope: Fulfilling America’s Promise to “Make Work Pay”

December 2007 • Johannes M. Bos, Greg J. Duncan, Lisa A. Gennetian, Heather D. HillEmployment & Wages, Poverty

The New Hope program was designed to assist workers by providing work supports including access to quality child care and health insurance.  This paper evaluates the program and provides recommendations for scaling it up nationally. 

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Better Workers for Better Jobs: Improving Worker Advancement in the Low-Wage Labor Market

December 2007 • Harry J. HolzerEmployment & Wages, Poverty

This paper proposes a new federal funding stream to identify, expand, and replicate the most successful state and local initiatives designed to spur the advancement of low-wage workers in the United States.

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

December 2007 • Jason E. Bordoff, Jason FurmanEmployment & Wages, Poverty

This paper offers a strategy to reduce poverty and strengthen growth across the income spectrum by helping people find jobs, investing in human capital, and creating a strong social safety net.

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