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.

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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. 

Safety-Net Programs Underused by Eligible Hispanic Families
By Marianne Bitler, UC Davis, and Lisa A. Gennetian, Christina Gibson-Davis, and Marcos A. Rangel, Duke University

Historically, Hispanic families have used means-tested assistance less than high-poverty peers, with anti-immigrant politics and policies potentially acting as a barrier. In a recent study, we documented the participation of Hispanic children in three anti-poverty programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). We compared across age and parental citizenship, and also explored the correlation of participation with state immigrant-based restrictions.

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Raising the Minimum Wage Improves Nutrition Among Food-Insecure Households
By Mike Palazzolo, University of California, Davis, and Adithya Pattabhiramaiah, Georgia Institute of Technology

Blame for widespread food insecurity across the U.S. is frequently directed at the prevailing minimum wage. In a recent study, we examined whether and to what extent increases to the minimum wage improved the quantity and nutritional quality of food purchased by minimum-wage earners.

Poverty Associated with Stress Among California Adolescents of Mexican Origin
By Lisa E. Johnson, UC Davis; Luis A. Parra, Washington University in Saint Louis; Elisa Ugarte, UC Davis; David G. Weissman, Harvard University; Sasha G. Han, St. Bonaventure University; and Richard W. Robins, Amanda E. Guyer, Paul D. Hastings, UC Davis

Poverty is a chronic stressor, associated with disruptions in adolescent development. To illuminate those disruptions, we examined associations of chronic poverty and income changes experienced from pre- to mid-adolescence with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis stress responses in late adolescence.

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.