Child Poverty In The U.S. Could Be Slashed By Monthly Payments To Parents

Child poverty in the U.S. could be slashed by monthly payments to parents – an idea proved in other rich countries and proposed by a prominent Republican decades ago

President Richard M. Nixon

Richard Nixon fumbled his attempt to secure benefits for American kids. 

Joya Misra, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Which former president pitched a Family Assistance Plan to the American people that would have provided many families with children a monthly stipend?

It may surprise you that it came in 1969 from Richard Nixon, a Republican who embraced cultural conservativism.

The House of Representatives twice passed his unprecedented plan to strengthen the safety net before it stalled in the Senate. Fifty years later, Congress and the nation are again debating a major boost in government support for families with children.

As a scholar who studies poverty and inequality, I have been contemplating that chapter in U.S. history while following recent proposals from President Joe Biden and other Democrats, and Sen. Mitt Romney – a Republican – to help cover the costs of raising children.

While the success of one of these measures or something similar is not assured, I believe that, thanks to the pandemic, there’s a good a chance the United States will finally begin building the foundation that Nixon called for and that families still need.

An outlier

The U.S. has long been an outlier in its lack of support for families with children.

That helps explain why child poverty in the U.S. is comparable to that in Mexico and Chile, and far higher than child poverty in other wealthy countries. Some 18% of U.S. children live in poverty, far above the 12% average for the 37 wealthy and middle-income countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation.

One reason most industrialized countries have lower child poverty rates is that they make monthly payments to families with children. These payments are standard in Europe and have been since around World War II.

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Disclosure: This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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