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Legacies of the War on Poverty, Lessons for the Future Sheldon Danziger President, Russell Sage Foundation H.J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor.

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Presentation on theme: "Legacies of the War on Poverty, Lessons for the Future Sheldon Danziger President, Russell Sage Foundation H.J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor."— Presentation transcript:

1 Legacies of the War on Poverty, Lessons for the Future Sheldon Danziger President, Russell Sage Foundation H.J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan January 8, 2014

2 The Golden Age of the Economy: A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats,  Rapid Economic Growth, modest recessions  Rapid wage growth for most workers  Spread of employer-provided health insurance & pensions  Minimum wage rises relative to inflation  Rapidly falling poverty  Slowly falling income inequality

3 A Gilded Age of Rising Inequality, 1973-present  Poverty rises above 15% during recessions of early 1980s & 1990s  Poverty falls during recoveries, but not to 1973 level  Less-educated workers & median male worker no longer benefit much from economic growth (except for a few years in late- 1990s when unemployment rate was very low)  Inequality increases steadily  Effective safety net only for elderly

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6 Current Economic Climate  Unemployment remains high—could take several more years to replace all jobs lost  Real wage growth unlikely for less-educated  Income & wealth inequalities at high levels  States are still cutting social programs and public sector jobs  Deficit Mania threatens safety net as we know it

7 Policy Recommendations – Adults  Make permanent ARRA’s Food Stamp and Unemployment Insurance changes that have expired  Establish a subsidized jobs program for long- term unemployed  Expand EITC for childless low-wage workers  Raise minimum wage

8 Responses to Safety Net’s Critics  Labor market changes, not failure to take available jobs, are primary reason poverty and unemployment remain high  Safety net programs reduce poverty without large distortions in work and family choices  Modest tax increases to fund safety net expansion can reduce poverty and inequality without disrupting the market economy


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