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.
With obesity affecting over a third of the U.S. population,
public health advocates—including first lady Michelle
Obama—have called to “drink up” on water instead of sugary
beverages. In new work, supported by the Center for Poverty
Research, we find that low-quality drinking water is a potential
barrier to reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages
in high-poverty rural immigrant communities.
In recent years, inner-city school districts have worked to
balance budgets despite funding cuts and unpredictable enrollment
due to demographic changes. While redistricting—the process of
changing school boundaries, closing and/or consolidating
schools—can effectively address budget and enrollment problems,
it can disproportionally affect disadvantaged students and
With unauthorized youth at the forefront of immigration reform
discourse and policy proposals, understanding the diversity of
their profiles and experiences is necessary to create holistic
Some safety net programs, such as unemployment insurance (UI) and
food stamps (SNAP), have shown to automatically stabilize income
during financial downturns. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
raises millions of American workers out of poverty, but its
impact in times of crisis has not been explored.
Public insurance can provide needed medical coverage for those
who cannot afford it. Considering that private insurance is often
bound to employment, a public option could have an impact on the
labor market if it reduces incentives to work.
Growing up in poverty may have long-term impacts beyond the
chance of a better financial future. The stress of early-life
poverty may in fact be associated with serious health problems
well into adulthood.
Ongoing research by Center Graduate Student Fellow Natalie Troxel
and Faculty Affiliate Paul Hastings examines the association
between poverty and compromised adult health, which may have
implications for healthcare costs in the U.S.
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.
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.
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
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.