The Non-traditional Safety Net: Health & Education

Overview

The Non-traditional Safety Net: Health & Education

The U.S. safety net has changed substantially in the past two decades. The role of direct cash assistance has diminished, while the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has expanded. Traditional forms of non-cash assistance such as Food Stamps, WIC, and Head Start comprise a larger share of the safety net than ever before.

See below for more information on research projects and other resources related to this topic.

Overview

Research on the Non-traditional Safety Net: Health & Education

The U.S. safety net has changed substantially in the past two decades. The role of direct cash assistance has diminished, while the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has expanded. Traditional forms of non-cash assistance such as Food Stamps, WIC, and Head Start comprise a larger share of the safety net than ever before.

Our Research Affiliates are finding that many non-cash programs make a substantive difference in families’ well-being, even if these programs do not increase families’ cash income. Affiliates also actively pursue research agendas that embrace a broader set of programs that assist low income groups such as education and health care programs. Many of these programs have not traditionally been considered part of the safety net but play a crucial role affecting poor families’ well-being.

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Cash for Kids
Marianne P. Bitler, Annie Laurie Hines, Marianne Page (Affiliates in Economics)

Although a growing number of studies suggest that providing poor families with income supplements of as little as $1,000 per year will improve children’s well-being, many poor  children miss important sources of income support provided through the tax system because their parents either do not work or do not file taxes. Accessing assistance through means-tested programs is also challenging.

Article

Exposure to Same-Race Teachers and Student Disciplinary Outcomes for Black Students in North Carolina
Constance A. Lindsay, American University and Cassandra M. D. Hart, University of California, Davis

Girl at the chalkboard

In this paper Constance Lindsay and Cassandra Hart find consistent evidence that exposure to same-race teachers is associated with reduced rates of exclusionary discipline for Black students.

Overview

Policy Briefs on the Non-Traditional Safety Net: Health & Education

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. 

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Medicaid Expansion Reduces Mortality Among Most Vulnerable
By Sarah Miller, University of Michigan; Sean Altekruse, National Institutes of Health; Norman Johnson, U.S. Census Bureau; and Laura R. Wherry, UC Los Angeles

Medicaid covers more than 72 million enrollees and represents over $500 billion in government spending annually. But does it improve the health of its beneficiaries? In a recent study, we investigated the relationship between Medicaid enrollment and mortality. To do so, we compared changes in mortality for near-elderly adults with low incomes in states that did and did not expand Medicaid eligibility through the Affordable Care Act. We found a decline of 0.132 percentage points in annual mortality associated with Medicaid expansion for this population.

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Nutrition-Program Revisions Associated with Improved Maternal and Infant Health
By Rita Hamad, Daniel F. Collin, and Laura L. Jelliffe-Pawlowski (UC San Francisco), and Rebecca J. Baer (UC San Diego)

Mother baby poverty nutrition health welfare WIC

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) serves more than one-quarter of pregnant and postpartum women in the United States. In October 2009, the WIC food package underwent revisions to improve nutritional content. In a recent quasi-experimental study of more than two million California infants, we investigated the extent to which those revisions—which increased access to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk—resulted in improvements in maternal and infant health.

Safety Net Enables Faster, More Permanent Exit from Deep Poverty
By Ann Huff Stevens, UC Davis

Safety net

Living in “deep poverty” means living on an income less than half the official poverty threshold, or, for a family of three in 2017, living with annual income of less than $9758. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, 18.5 million individuals in the United States—5.7 percent of the population—lived in deep poverty in 2017. At such low levels of income, it may be particularly important to understand for how long individuals continue to live in deep poverty. My recent study investigates the long-term persistence of deep poverty. While most spells of deep poverty in the U.S.

Overview

Podcasts on the Non-Traditional Safety Net: Health & Education

Center podcasts are a great way to keep up with today’s poverty research and public policy. We record most of our conference presentations and talks by our seminar speakers. We also produce exclusive content, such as our Poverty in Focus series, as well as expert discussions on research.

Reducing Inequality through Education
Michal Kurlaender in conversation with David Figlio

In this podcast, David Figlio and Michal Kurlaender discuss how inequality before a child is even born can compound across a lifetime, and the difference high-quality schools can make for low-income children. 

Information Access and Student Achievement
Cassandra M.D. Hart in conversation with Peter Bergman

In this podcast, Peter Bergman and Cassandra M.D. Hart  discuss how access to timely, actionable information about how students are performing in school can help parents keep their kids on track. 

Podcast

Is Tinkering with Safety Net Programs Harmful to Beneficiaries? Evidence from the Medicaid Notch and the Minimum Wage
Jeffrey Clemens, University of California, San Diego

In this presentation, Jeffrey Clemens discusses his work on how the Great Recession affected employment and income for low-skilled workers. Clemens is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at UC San Diego.

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