Journal Issue: The Next Generation of Antipoverty Policies Volume 17 Number 2 Fall 2007
A Strategy for Success
The fact that the nation has made only modest progress against poverty over the past three decades does not mean that progress is impossible. As the decline in poverty among female-headed families during the 1990s shows, poverty can be reduced substantially. The success of welfare reform also suggests a general strategy for cutting poverty further— namely, by a judicious use of sticks and carrots to encourage or require responsible behavior by individuals and to reward responsible behavior with increased income or opportunity. Progress in the battle against poverty is also more likely if the nation can improve the education of poor children who currently fall behind their more privileged peers during the preschool years and never catch up. The articles in this volume, written by some of the nation’s top scholars, outline eight specific proposals that, following this general strategy, have a high likelihood of reducing poverty. Many of the proposals are expensive. But poverty is expensive too: it drains resources from the nation while simultaneously depriving it of human capital that would increase productivity and reduce social problems. Investments in these proposals, which could be financed out of savings from cuts in other government spending, are certain to produce numerous benefits in the long run.