These briefs are short and informative analyses of our research
relating to poverty policies. Policy Briefs deliver our
cutting-edge research directly to policy makers, researchers, and
stakeholders in an accessible format.
Some policy analysts, policymakers and scholars argue that
low-wage workers should “work their way out of poverty” by
acquiring the human capital that would enable them to leave
poverty-level jobs. A new study interviewing 25 low wage
immigrant workers by Center for Poverty Research Affiliates Vicki
Smith and Brian Halpin finds that while many of these low-wage
workers recognize the need to enhance their skills and
educational credentials, the conditions of their employment
trap them, making it nearly impossible to escape.
In July 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown overhauled the
state’s school finance system, which has long been criticized for
its complexity and failure to meet student needs. The prior
system generally did provide more revenues to districts serving
many disadvantaged students, but the new Local Control Funding
Formula (LCFF) dramatically increases the state’s investment in
those districts, and creates a more transparent and
equitable school finance system.
From 1900 through the 1960s, millions of black Americans moved
northward during The Great Migration toward economic
opportunity and away from Jim Crow in the South. However,
over the last few decades many of those destination cities
in the north have fared poorly.
There has been considerable debate about whether payday lending
alleviates or exacerbates financial distress. On the one hand,
payday loans can help a family weather shocks to household income
or expenditures. Many argue, however, that these high-cost loans
lead to greater financial difficulties in the long run.
Community-based organizations (CBOs) serve low-income immigrants
who face significant barriers to public aid. An increasing
proportion of these populations includes families with children
who live in poverty.
In recent years, ethnic concordance—matching the ethnicity of
healthcare workers to that of their patients—has been promoted as
an important measure for achieving “patient-centered care” for
minority patients in the U.S.
Health problems, such as diabetes, are often considered the
result of either genetics or individual choices. In fact, our
network of family, friends and co-workers can have a major impact
on how we measure and manage our health.
For decades, high school students have taken technical training
classes that prepare them for jobs, but little research has
examined the impact these classes have on whether those students
go to college.
Smaller classes help students, many argue, especially those most
“at risk.” Research shows that on average this is true. However,
when “risk” is defined beyond ethnicity or socioeconomic status,
the picture of who most benefits becomes less clear.
Research suggests that violence and low academic performance in
public schools play a big role in a family’s decision to use
state-funded vouchers to send their children to a private school.
However, little research has considered the impact of nearby
private and public school markets.
Transitions into and out of poverty often happen after major
events such as marriage, divorce, or changes in income. They are
also associated with economic factors, such as unemployment rates
or wages. Understanding the impacts of each can show the
difference between short-term, circumstantial poverty and
longer-term poverty associated with more permanent limitations on
earnings, employment and family structure.
For an extended period now, U.S. farms have enjoyed an abundance
of workers from Mexico who work for stable or decreasing real
wages. However, since 2008 the overall number of these farm
workers, both these working in the U.S. and those who remain in
Mexico, has shrunk substantially.
Those who come to the United States looking for work compete with
some groups of native-born workers but complement others. Since
wages and the local poverty rate play a part in how many arrive,
it is a challenge to quantify the effect they in turn have on
both, and whether they push native workers below the poverty
One in five children in the United States is the child of
immigrants. These new Americans, most of whom are U.S. citizens,
are more than twice as likely as children of natives to have no
health insurance. Prior research has shown that differences in
income or employment between native and immigrant parents do not
account for the disparity in coverage.
Linking income and health has been a notorious challenge for
researchers. With multiple sources of income such as earnings,
cash transfer and near cash transfer programs, it is difficult to
isolate their effects on health. The 1993 expansion to the Earned
Income Tax Credit (EITC), the largest and most recent of federal
expansions to date, provided researchers a unique opportunity.